Love for CFL’s toothless Lions brings torment, taunting

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I was lounging on the couch in our den Monday afternoon when, suddenly and without warning, a text popped up on my cellphone.

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I was lounging on the couch in our den Monday afternoon when, suddenly and without warning, a text popped up on my cellphone.

“Go look out your living room window!” the cryptic message on my iPhone’s screen commanded.

When I peered out the window, my weary eyeballs were greeted by an obnoxious sign that had been hammered into our front yard.

“THE CUP LIVES HERE!” screamed the sign, which was adorned with a photo of the CFL’s Holy Grail, the Grey Cup, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ “#ForTheW” motto.

And so it begins. I am referring here, of course, to the steady stream of good-natured abuse that will be directed my way all week because, if I am famous for anything, I am famous for openly and obnoxiously rooting for the B.C. Lions, the team I have been relentlessly cheering for since I was a pasty-faced kid growing up on the West Coast.

The onslaught of abuse will be especially intense this week because the only thing that stands between the hometown gridiron gang and a third consecutive berth in the Grey Cup game is my beloved and frequently forlorn Leos, the team they will be tackling tomorrow afternoon in the CFL’s West Division Final at IG Field.

Getting back to the sign in my yard, it was stuck there by three dear friends who (and this will come as no surprise) are hardcore Bomber supporters. I know this because they also texted me a photo of themselves squatting behind the sign while sporting evil grins and little stickers adorned with the Bombers’ logo stuck to their rosy cheeks.

Ever since I moved to Winnipeg 49 years ago, I have been routinely ridiculed for my over-the-top obsession with the Lions. In truth, my ongoing love affair with the Lions doesn’t make much sense today. But, as they say in the movies, I just can’t quit those guys.

Even as a teenager, I knew deep in my heart that just because you switch CFL cities, it doesn’t mean you should abandon the team you have adored since the day you were born. The end result, of course, is that I have endured a lot of abuse over the years, because my Lions have become famous for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Even strangers are comfortable mocking my obsession. “OHMYGAWD! YOU DON’T CHEER FOR THOSE GUYS, DO YOU?” a kindly-looking fellow out walking his dog chirped at me the other day, pointing at my official B.C. Lions souvenir jacket, a gift from my Bomber-loving friends Tony and Kathi on my 66th birthday.

Call me deranged if you must, but I think I would be disappointed if no one gave me grief over my love of the lions, which I have been shamelessly expressing in this column for years.

Whenever the Lions get declawed by the Bombers, my “friends” will break into their happy dance, wag their fingers at me in a taunting manner, and break into the following cheeky chant: “NEENER! NEENER! NEENER! B.C. SUCKS!!!”

On Tuesday morning, the day after sticking the sign in my front yard, my friend Kathi — who loves the Bombers so much she bought a bikini featuring the team logo — texted me a video in which she waved her Bombers flag and rang her Bombers cowbell.

Seconds later, she sent me photos of one of her two French bulldogs, Taz, wearing the canine version of a Bombers jersey and posing with the aforementioned cowbell.

If you stick your head out the nearest window, you will be able to feel the mounting tide of excitement in this city over the possibility of the Bombers winning a third straight Grey Cup, which has me worried about how intense the anti-Lions abuse is going to become with only one sleep left before Sunday’s big game.

I am praying that the Lions’ Winnipeg HQ — I’m talking about my house, by the way — does not see a repeat of the spine-chilling incident that occurred several years ago when I foolishly invited my closest “friends” over for a barbecue, wherein we would chow down on burgers and watch the Lions tangle with the Bombers in a televised game.

What you need to know here is that, parked on the couch in our den, was my beloved Teddy bear in the baby-sized Lions souvenir jacket he has sported since he was given to me by my maternal grandmother shortly before she passed away.

When I marched into our den to check on the game and let everyone know the burgers were ready, I was confronted by a sight that chilled me to the bone — my friends, led by Bomber fanatic Kathi, had found some rope, which they wrapped around my bear’s neck before hanging him from the ceiling.

So there I was, covered in barbecue sauce, a burger flipper clutched in one hand, looking at my teddy bear swinging back and forth in front of the TV, hung in effigy, as my “friends” laughed their cruel little laughs.

“You people are monsters!” I snorted at the time. “Also, what’s the score in the game?”

The emotional scars from that dark day have healed, and I think I am ready to face the pressure of watching Sunday’s showdown.

Will I be wearing my Lions jersey to a game where I will be surrounded by wild-eyed Bombers backers? Not a chance. I may be a crazy Lions fan, but I’m not an idiot.

dougspeirs65@gmail.com

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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