Coach Kelly comes clean

Bomber fans put the team's change agent in the hot seat


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He was, admittedly, preaching mostly to the converted and the diehards, those that are with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/04/2009 (5083 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He was, admittedly, preaching mostly to the converted and the diehards, those that are with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.

But if there was a star at the Bombers’ annual fan forum Tuesday night — an event that featured the release of a healthy financial statement and hinted at a spiffy new marketing campaign — it was new head coach Mike Kelly. He spoke first about restoring the pride in the team and, in a Q & A session with the flock, challenged fans who were critical about the extreme makeover of the roster, wowed others with his answers and tiptoed around a few questions with the skill of a polished politician.

And in the course of an hour he may have momentarily stepped out of the crosshairs after an off-season that has been all about change.

Asked afterward if he was at all nervous about facing the Bomber faithful, Kelly continued to stand true to his convictions and his belief in his blueprint.

"I feel good about what we’re doing in my heart and in my head," Kelly said. "I know we’re doing the right things for this football club. It’s not a single person that’s making these decisions, it’s a group effort and we try to gather as much information as we can on all aspects of it. We don’t want to be verbose in what we’re doing, but we’re confident in what we’re doing."

Playing to a packed house at the Blue and Gold Room that featured a number of Bombers alumni and a handful of current players, Kelly — who had a pipe burst in his condo and will be out of his new home for three months — kept the audience on the edge of their seats with his answers. He even fielded a playful complicated Xs and Os football question from Matt Dunigan, who is in town for a charity event and to visit Kelly, one of his closest friends.


Among the hightlights from Kelly’s performance:

On free-agent quarterback Casey Printers, who was invited to attend the club’s camp in Florida last weekend:

"Casey who? Casey isn’t a member of the Blue Bomber organization, so for me to comment on Casey I don’t think is appropriate. It was a private workout and we’re going to keep it private. We have our evaluations, we looked at players we wanted to look at. We sat down as a staff and we’ll make a determination on what we saw."

On the massive personnel changes:

"That’s what people in leadership roles have to do. You have to make decisions that are best for your organization. The quarterback position? That’s all I heard about when I first got the job: ‘What are you going to do about the quarterback? What about Kevin Glenn? What’s going on?’ I did something about it and then everybody is, ‘Ohhh, you got rid of Kevin Glenn!’ We’re going to continue to get better all the time. In this business you can’t attach yourself to a player, no matter how much you love him."

On the kicking situation:

"We did see a young man (at the Florida free-agent camp) that we’re very interested in. This is (Alexis) Serna’s job to lose, but certainly at every position we want to bring in people to compete with the ones we already have. It’s truly going to be an open camp. Come in and win a job. I don’t care if you’re making $10 or $2, whoever the best player is, is going to have a job."

On the comparisons to Jeff Reinebold’s reign of error:

"I got rid of all my earrings and the tattoo removal is going very well. All those things are in the past. I had nothing to do with it. I wasn’t here."

And, finally, as is customary at these kind of gatherings, there were also the usual shots at the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Regina, referred to by one fan as ‘the crotch of Canada.’ Later, Kelly spoke of taking talent from the Edmonton Eskimos and Riders: "We kind of raided the toothless, green, watermelon-helmet-wearing people from the crotch of Canada." That brought down the house.


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