Blue Bomber Report Record: 4–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers Glenn January living in a country song

Union backlash, dad has heart attack, dog dies...

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Glenn January tosses the ball back to quarterback coach Gene Dahlquist during the first official day of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Glenn January tosses the ball back to quarterback coach Gene Dahlquist during the first official day of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp. Photo Store

First, his dad suffered a heart attack back home in Houston last week.

Then, his dog died.

And then, just to top things off, his union executive served up a steaming pile of a collective-bargaining agreement over the weekend and asked him to sell it as filet to his teammates inside the Winnipeg Blue Bombers locker-room.

Throw in a 24-22 pre-season loss to the Toronto Argonauts and it was small wonder Bombers offensive lineman and player representative Glenn January was a bit hang dog in his locker stall Monday night as he pondered the last seven days of his life.

"I've had one hell of a training camp, I will tell you," January said. "It's been a really rough go. Just one thing after another."

The good news is January's dad is feeling better and was released from hospital earlier this week. As for the dog -- an English mastiff named Dixie January has owned since college -- well, there are warm memories.

"That dog," January says, "was a sweetheart."

But this new CBA?

Well, that's not getting any better -- or leaving behind any fond memories for a group of CFL players who had their expectations pumped up to delusional levels by a union executive that proved unable to deliver on their lofty promises of riches.

A tentative agreement reached last weekend between the CFL and CFLPA offers the players a modest salary cap increase, a bump to the minimum salary and some non-economic benefits, but the new deal fell far short of the union's ambitious demands and the final agreement has players across the country lashing out at their executive this week for mishandling contract talks and/or caving to league demands too soon.

Caught in the middle of it all are player representatives like January, who played no role in negotiations and yet now finds himself caught in the unenviable position of serving as the intermediary between a very agitated union membership and a very defensive union executive.

"The player reps have all been asked to go back the individual players and make sure they understand the complexities of the deal and everything that goes into it.

"Whatever decision is made, we have to be unified. And that's what we have to decide as a team," said January, adding a scheduled day off today would be used to brief players on the new deal.

January said a date for a ratification vote hadn't yet been set but the vote would definitely take place this week and possibly as early as today.

While players have been vocal in their distaste for the new deal -- particularly on Twitter -- the general consensus in the Bombers locker-room and across the league is that the players will hold their noses and vote in favour of the new deal rather than risk a lengthy work stoppage.

And the new deal is not without its supporters.

"I think we're going to vote to play," said Bombers defender Korey Banks. "I'm very happy with this deal. Business is business and I'm looking at it from both sides... It could be better, but it's fair."

Bombers wide receiver Clarence Denmark said he's going to trust the judgment of the representatives his team elected when it comes time to vote on the new deal. "I really don't know everything about it. I'm trying to let our player reps handle it and focus on football. Once you start focusing on stuff like that, you lose focus on the things that are really important."

But January said he's never been a salesman and he has no intention of becoming one now.

"At the end of the day, this isn't an executive thing, it's not a player rep thing -- it's a player thing. And the players have a right to make a decision for themselves. Whatever the players decide, it's not my place to sway them. But I'm definitely going to lay everything out for them and make sure they understand whatever decision they make...

"The most important thing to me is that whatever decision we make, we're unified and we don't have fighting that continues on throughout the season. We have to make sure we're all on the same page and whatever we decide, that's it."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2014 C1

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