December 4, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack and head coach Tim Burke agree on at least two things:
Too much partying was an issue on last year's Bombers team -- and it won't be on this year's team.
"I was concerned about it. Things drifted back. We tried to address it. Obviously, we had a certain amount of hurdles, if you will, last year," Mack said at the tail end of a news conference Wednesday afternoon called to discuss the upcoming CFL Draft.
"I know it's something (head coach Tim Burke) is going to address this year. And we think it's such a significant issue that players will be sat down if we have to. And if they don't come around, then they won't be here."
Mack made the comments one day after Burke told Free Press sports columnist Gary Lawless that there were incidents last year involving players partying late into the night and then showing up the next day hungover.
Mack agreed, saying part of the problem was Burke was spread too thin after he took over the head coaching duties in late August when Paul LaPolice was fired.
"I think probably part of the problem that made it more difficult for Tim, in fairness to Tim, is Tim was coaching defensive backs, he was defensive co-ordinator and head coach," said Mack.
"So I think Tim was juggling so many balls, I think it was maybe harder for Tim to put his thumb on that and really squelch it."
Mack said the other issue is that sometime Bombers players -- particularly the young ones -- are a bit too popular in Winnipeg for their own good.
"The other thing for us is there's a yin and yang to it," said Mack. "The Bombers have a certain high profile in the city, so our players get a lot of attention if they are out.
"And I think that sometimes maybe tempts them to, you know, enjoy themselves maybe a little too much as young men. So that's something I think we need to address."
Mack was asked if professional football players shouldn't be more self-policing.
"You would hope so," said Mack, "but they're young men and young men at times do not do very bright things. So they're 21, 22 -- they're active and they're going to get a lot of attention when they're going out in the evenings.
"As we all know, young people in general and in particular young men -- particularly athletes and football players -- they have a lot of energy, if you will. And sometimes they don't think about the long- term consequences.
"So we definitely have to emphasize that for them this year."
Bombers QB Buck Pierce said Wednesday that he didn't personally see any glaring discipline lapses on last year's team, but did agree that maturity was an issue for a very young team.
"You expect guys to be professional and take it as a business and as a job," said Pierce. "It's about maturity -- guys growing up and understanding the importance of what you have to do.
"If the coach noticed it and saw some things going on that he didn't like, then obviously it was a problem. I've been around a lot of teams and some teams are just more mature than others...
"We're a young team and there are some growing pains going on."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2013 D3
Updated on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:45 AM CDT:
replaces photo, adds video