Any team rife with inconsistent and underachieving performers is likely to also host a number of athletes commonly referred to as "Coach Killers" in industry circles.
"Coach Killer" is a term used in professional football that describes a certain breed of player. The reason they are termed this is because if you find too many players of this design on your roster, any number of your coaches are soon to be terminated and headed to the front of the unemployment line.
The makeup of a Coach Killer is complicated. Often times they are the most physically gifted players that play the most impacting positions. In fact, their performance, when firing on all cylinders, is so dynamic and impressive it is what enamours you to them and forges the bond and allegiances that head coaches and practically everybody else has with them at one point. They are game changers that can take over a game, that can contribute significantly to the outcome, and their skill set and physicality are of a nature that scouts and personnel men salivate over. They quite often have amusing nicknames, too, that stem from the key element they are missing.
The overwhelming problem with these players is they are not consistent on a game by game basis, like a light switch that turns on and off, or because of successive injuries. When you need them most, they aren't there for you, for one reason or another. As big of a play as they might make one game to win you a contest, they blow up just as big or don't play again for three weeks.
When franchise players or perennial all-star players have an off day, they aren't as noticeable or impacting. They play just like an average player when things go wrong. When a Coach Killer has a bad game, things go south in a hurry from mental and physical perspectives and they largely affect the outcome of the game.
Without pulling out a media guide -- the football equivalent of your high school yearbook -- one of the first Coach Killers that popped into my head, from my time with this team, was Kamau Peterson, or as he became known during his stint here, Kamau "Incompleterson."
Kamau was a gifted Canadian receiver with good speed, tremendous athleticism, good size and excellent work habits. Kamau could catch anything you threw at him, as long as it was in practice. Once the bright lights came on, his performances were highly erratic -- at least during his time here in Winnipeg -- which is another problem with "Coach Killers," and why they are so hard to part with; They don't always stay with this designation.
In fact, when Kamau left the Bombers, then the Tiger-Cats, and signed with Edmonton, he became one of their best receivers, was a two-time nominee as their Most Outstanding Canadian, and won the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian award in 2008.
Another player that came to mind as a Coach Killer while he was here was Adarius Bowman, or formerly known in Winnipeg football circles as "Adarius Bustman." Once again, this was a player with all of the promise and potential in the world, but for the most part it went unrealized and his performances could not be counted on. It almost seemed like he would either catch a ball and threaten to score, or drop or fumble it. Yet once again, he eventually became a 1,000-yard receiver, and even had a game last season where he gained 226 yards and scored two TDs.
There are a number of Coach Killers currently on the Bombers roster -- athletes can deny it all they want, but Paul LaPolice is living proof of it.
The latest one that came to mind after the Calgary game was Demond Washington, who fumbled his eighth punt return of the season. He is easily one of the most explosive and athletically gifted players on this team, but his fielding miscues have cost the Bombers almost as much as his sometimes exemplary play has benefitted them, and he is not alone.
Now that it has been determined Demond will no longer return punts and can focus on his play as a defensive back, I'm confident this tagline will fade from him.
Let's just hope it happens before he is cut loose and is on another team.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.