IT goes almost without saying that the four Winnipeg Blue Bombers pegged for East Division all-star honours would probably trade that title to have had a better season.
But what's done is done, and so here's a silver lining: Running back Will Ford, offensive tackle Glenn January, defensive tackle Bryant Turner and Canadian linebacker Henoc Muamba were all announced Wednesday as all-stars in their division. The all-stars were voted in by 77 football reporters and division head coaches.
"It's nice to have individual acknowledgment, but I sure wish I was playing this weekend," said January, who nabbed the honour for the third year in a row.
Well, January has a new job of sorts. At a press conference at Investors Group Field, the Bombers veteran joked that he was willing to act as Henoc's de facto agent to get the pending free agent re-signed in Winnipeg.
"I think they should throw whatever it takes," he said. "Henoc's a huge asset for us. Whenever you look at a player in this league, and you aren't able to differentiate between Canadian or American... I really hope that Henoc's back."
The good news is that Muamba, Winnipeg's nominee for most outstanding player, defensive player and Canadian, is in discussions with the Bombers to do just that. Yeah, this past season was difficult, he agreed, but the coaches and the locker-room vibe made him comfortable.
"I always talk about being able to be comfortable in where I stay, and that's definitely a huge part in the next step," he added.
It would be a boon to the Bombers to get Muamba back. He finished second in the league with 106 tackles this season, and is durable to boot having started every game. Negotiations are moving forward, Muamba said, and he hopes there will be a resolution "soon." How soon, time will tell. Interestingly, although Muamba said he enjoyed working with his coaches, the uncertainty around the coaching staff won't be a big part of his decision, he said.
"I'd love to know that as well, it would be great," he said. "It's part of it, but I don't think it's a major part."
The all-star recognition is also a nice feather in the cap for Ford, who the Bombers nominated as their top special teams player. Ford, in his second year in Winnipeg, had a breakout season, cashing in 594 yards and two touchdowns on 113 carries. One of those, a 70-yarder against Calgary in October, was the longest touchdown run by a running back this season.
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