In the ashes of a losing season, it's time to remember a winning one: the Bombers will honour their 1988 Grey Cup-winning team at the game on Saturday.
While some members of that team still live in Winnipeg, others have flown in for the weekend, where they will be honoured at a half-time ceremony during the tilt against the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Bombers will also wear their new third jerseys in honour of the 1988 squad.
Some of the retired players will be at the Bomber Store at Investors Group Field from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. tonight for an autograph session. On hand will be Chris Walby, Bob Cameron, James Murphy, James West, Sean Salisbury and kicker Trevor Kennerd, who booted the 30-yard field goal that finally gave the Bombers the lead in the final minutes of the game.
Also in town are Lyle Bauer, Paul Clatney, Darryl Sampson, Terry Cochrane, Darren Yewchyn, Leon Hatziioannou, David Black, Bob Molle, Nick Bastaja, Randy Fabi, Stan Mikawos, Rob Prodanovic and Jeff Smith.
On a bittersweet note, among the guests are the family of Steven Rodehutskors, who won two Grey Cups with the Bombers. Rodehutskors died of cancer in 2007, at age 43. His wife Tracey and sons Justin and Thomas, who wasn't quite two years old when his father died, will join Rodehutskors' teammates on Saturday.
Muamba's last Bomber practice?
IN just a few days, players will start to pack up their lockers, go their separate ways and start the process of putting this sad season behind them. Some players leave on a higher note than others. Consider Henoc Muamba, who was announced as the 2013 winner of the Bombers' Ed Kotowich Good Guy Award on Thursday for his service in the community. This year, the third-year Canadian linebacker launched the Muamba Perfect 10 program, which gives kids from poor or difficult social backgrounds a chance to see a Bomber games and meet Muamba afterward.
The award came a day after Muamba was named the team's most outstanding player, Canadian and defensive player in the annual team awads.
Muamba, who is heading into free agency and is expected to weigh his opportunities, described the last day of practice as being bittersweet.
"Probably next week already, once playoffs start I know I'm going to be at home watching and I'm going to miss it," he said.
"At the same time, you look back on the season that was. There was some good things that happened, and you keep that in your back pocket, but obviously the things that didn't work out, you want to improve on, and that's what we're going to do. So you kind of reflect, but look forward to next year as well."
Last chance to prove their worth
ON that note, the final practice of the year was "upbeat," coach Tim Burke said, "probably because it was the last practice."
Which is good, because despite the fact all the Bombers are battling for now is a chance not to tie their worst-ever 18-game season record. The plan is still to win on Saturday, for the fans and for the future too -- though whether Burke will be there for that remains unknown.
"I think everybody wants to win a game," Burke said. "I think guys want to make sure they put out a good resumé for whoever is the coaching staff next year, or if they're free agents in the league."
Meanwhile, Burke declined to specify Thursday which players he was referring to earlier in the week when he spoke of the "handful" of Bombers who had shown their "true colours" by checking out of practice already by Tuesday. He added those players won't play on Saturday.
"I would say you'll see in the off-season," he said. "They won't be here."