Fans of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were made just one promise by the club's new brain trust at Monday night's annual Fan Forum at Investors Group Field -- and it wasn't more wins this coming season.
Instead, the 200 or so fans who turned up were told again and again that whatever the final scores up on the board in 2014, they will be impressed by the effort their team will show in the upcoming CFL season.
'Whatever the result, I can assure you will be impressed by the effort. I will not stand for a lack of effort'
"Whatever the result, I can assure you will be impressed by the effort. I will not stand for a lack of effort," head coach Mike O'Shea told the crowd. "I guarantee you will leave the stadium and be proud of the effort that was put forth."
The Bombers have missed the playoffs in four of the last five years and are coming off a 3-15 season, so it was by design the club's new leadership did not write any cheques they couldn't cash to its fanbase.
Instead of focusing on wins and losses, O'Shea, GM Kyle Walters and CEO Wade Miller all spoke about assembling a team that will at least try hard, something not always in evidence last year.
'It's on myself and Mike now to put a winning product on the field and we're ready for that challenge'
"(O'Shea) won't take any BS from the players. You're either in or you're out," said Walters.
"I think you guys are going to enjoy the way Mike runs this football club."
Walters also pointed out money will no longer be an excuse for poor performance on the field, noting a 13 per cent year over year increase in spending on football operations means half the money the Bombers now spend is on football operations and the club now has a coaching and scouting staff as big as any in the CFL.
"You will certainly be able to question certain decisions if they don't work out," Walters told the crowd. "But nobody in this room will be able to question the time, energy and thought that goes into the decisions being made by this football operations department.
"It's on myself and Mike now to put a winning product on the field and we're ready for that challenge."
Here's some other tidbits to come out of the forum:
- Walters said the Bombers will announce in the next 24-48 hours they have signed a "recognizable name" at middle linebacker. Among the experienced CFL middle linebackers on the free agent market right now are Brandon Isaac and Ejiro Kuale;
- Brock Bulbuck, chairman of the Bombers board, said changes to the board structure in the past year and changes in the way the club conducts business has made the Bombers "one of the most, if not the most, transparent community organizations in the province."
- Bulbuck said the annual financial report the Bombers released Monday might be the most detailed the club has ever released;
- Changes for gameday at Investors Group Field in 2014 will include two new bars on the 200 level to mitigate crowding on the main level concourse; an enhanced "tailgating" experience beginning two-and-a-half hours before game time and five new charging stations inside the stadium for cellphones;
- The Bombers are hoping Patrick Neufeld, who was acquired from Saskatchewan in a mid-season trade last year, will challenge this year for a starting job at right tackle.