Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers laughingstock of CFL, and that's not funny

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This should be their finest hour. An organization on the verge of trotting into the country's finest football stadium. Instead, it's a steaming bag of disappointment, mistrust and incompetence. Ladies and gentlemen, meet your Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the biggest joke in Canadian professional football.

Even when they're handed a game, they somehow manage to give it back.

There's absolutely no way the Bombers should have lost on Sunday. Except they did, by playing scared and stupid football down the stretch to let the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders steal a 25-24 last-second victory.

Should we be surprised? Not really. These are the Bombers and they do very little right as an organization. Most of us see it on the field, but this year we've been made privy to any number of front-office gaffes as well. The Bombers, as they are currently constituted, are a can't-win proposition.

I have to wonder how confident Premier Greg Selinger feels in his investment these days. He's spent close to $200 million on a new stadium and is supposed to get $85 million of it plus interest back from the Blue Bombers.

Well, the Bombers' business is football and they don't have a clue when it comes to our three-down game. Sooner or later, that's going to hurt.

Expecting them to meet their debt demands is like hoping you will win the lottery. You buy your ticket and check your numbers and quietly crumple up the losing ticket. It's a disappointment but it's what you expected all along.

Let's call the loan what it is and that's charity.

The Bombers are a charity. They open their doors and take money and give nothing in return. Well, that's not entirely true. Lots of people left the stadium with something on Sunday. Heartburn from awful food and heartache from worse football.

The strong ticket sales are about to stop. The Bombers have cruised on the buzz of a new stadium and great summer weather. But that's grinding to a halt. The sun is fading and so is the goodwill in our community.

The Bombers aren't a good 2-8. They're a bad 2-8 and many will argue they should be 1-9.

They've fired a coach and are now embarrassing another.

The offence hasn't scored a touchdown in nine quarters.

The record is 16-30 since the start of the 2010 season. Sixteen wins in 46 tries.

The defence allowed Drew Willy, who is not even close to Joe Willy Namath, to beat them on Sunday.

They lost 52-0 a week ago and followed it up with a loss on Sunday to the very same Roughriders. The Bombers had every reason to win this week and still couldn't turn the trick.

Pride? Heart? I guess we saw a bit but not nearly enough. Those characteristics aren't a sometime thing in a team. They're a way of life.

The petulant players blockading a reporter from another newspaper over some perceived slight was typical of this group. Minutes after watching their season likely go washing down the drain they had the presence of mind to try and persuade one another not to talk to a person trying to do his job.

For real. That's what was on a good number of their minds.

They are immature on the field and immature off it. Why shouldn't they be?

No one is accountable for mistake after mistake after mistake.

The team trotted out GM Joe Mack last week to explain the misery that is the football team he's assembled. He cracked jokes and then in a move that media and executives around the league labelled reprehensible, he attempted to hide behind last summer's tragic death of defensive line coach Richard Harris.

 

Leadership? Sorry but there's a shortage around here.

Looking at their schedule it's hard to imagine this team winning many more than two games the rest of the way to finish at 4-14 or so.

The football is intolerable. Bad penalties. Inexperienced coaching. Lack of execution. It goes on and on. The front office had a worse off-season than the GM. One customer relations fiasco after another.

Hey, let me put it to you this way. If the Bombers were a publicly traded company would you buy stock? Maybe, because they would have to be trading at an all-time low right now. But it would still be a gamble. There is just nothing in this organization, despite a number of good people within its walls, that suggests a positive return.

What do we as a province need to see before we get change? The model is clearly broken.

The self-appointed board of directors are well-meaning people and have a collection of skills but the concept doesn't work. No one is accountable. That just doesn't work in business. The results have been in for some time, however, the stakes are now higher than ever.

The new stadium can give the Bombers new life. But they need new leadership. Selinger must have provisions to change the leadership structure of the franchise. And he needs to step in. Now.

The Bombers aren't playing with house money. They're playing with ours. And we need to get more for it.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

 

'The model is broken'

It's been 22 years since the Blue wore Grey, but more troubling going forward are a series of events and statistics from the last three seasons:

The club has 16 wins and 30 losses since 2010

They've fired a coach and are roasting another

Public- and customer-relations gaffes continue to mount

The offence hasn't scored a TD in nine quarters of play

There is no sense anyone is accountable

The club has an $85-milllion debt repayment -- plus interest -- about to begin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 10, 2012 D1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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