May 31, 2020

23° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?


Advertise With Us


O'Shea the right man

Bombers head coach is here to serve, and serve well

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/8/2014 (2108 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mike O'Shea is different than most of us in that he's spent most of his adult years getting paid to either play or coach a game. He's not different in that his hair grows and he needs to get it cut. Which led to the beginning of his Winnipeg experience on Friday.

The rookie head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers wrapped up his day winning a football game as his team pushed to a respectable and contending 6-3 mark at the midway point of the CFL regular season.

It can't be underscored enough. The Bombers were a tire fire last season. They won three games. Players quit. It was an abject failure and a disgrace to this franchise with a proud history and tradition.

O'Shea has erased all that. The Bombers, regardless of where this season goes from here, are a team again. One that fights and sticks together. They're short on talent, but they have will again. It all begins with the head coach. He's the supreme leader. He's the right man for this team. And this town.

Last season, an ugly slugfest like Friday's game -- which was a grind from beginning to end -- would never have gone Winnipeg's way.

But O'Shea's team knows how to hang in and persist. They don't know any other way. That comes from their coach.

O'Shea will remember this win. But he might remember a chance meeting in a barber shop even longer. In fact, he will.

Game day begins slow for a coach. The work is mostly done, and there is no practice, so little chores such as a car wash or a haircut fit into the schedule.

O'Shea walked into a barber shop on Pembina Highway and soon after a man named Tom Stanley slipped through the doorway.

"He was wearing a ball cap. Old school farmer or trucker style. It said 'veteran' on the hat," said O'Shea during a sideline conversation about 60 minutes prior to Friday's 24-16 win over the Montreal Alouettes. "I asked him if he served and he said he was a WWII veteran.

"I told him my dad had served in WWII as well. Then I thanked him for his service. He teared up a little and so did I."

O'Shea's father, Michael, died two years ago in July.

"I sized him up and guessed he must have been 88 or 89," said O'Shea. "He told me he was 94. Then he told me he walks nine holes at Wildewood (golf course) every day. He said, 'These people, I don't even know their names, they come up every day and ask me to play. I have a different game nearly every day.' "

Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea enjoys the passion and loyalty of Winnipeg fans, and his team gave the crowd something to cheer about Friday night.


Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea enjoys the passion and loyalty of Winnipeg fans, and his team gave the crowd something to cheer about Friday night.

With that, the two men went their separate ways. One to play golf and the other to try and win a football game.

O'Shea has talked a lot about why he wanted this job, and while being a head coach of any football team would have fit, he loved the fact the game means so much to this community.

Community and country matter to O'Shea. He loves being a Canadian. Football is important to him, but it comes well after family and country. Yes, the losses hit him hard and few like to compete and win more than O'Shea.

But he's got perspective as well.

He can froth up during a football game. But he's well aware there is a much bigger world, with struggles and despair of far greater import than professional football.

O'Shea doesn't have to speak loudly to announce his presence in a room. He's one of those guys, when he walks in, you know he's there. The longer he stays, the more of an impact and impression he's going to leave.

The Blue Bombers already know this. The city of Winnipeg will soon.

The Bombers' season was on the verge of taking an ugly turn on Friday night.

A loss to the Alouettes would have been the third in a row for the Bombers, with the scary proposition of a home-and-home series against the mighty Saskatchewan Roughriders next up on the docket. Three in a row could easily turn in to five in a row with the prospect of a post-season berth rapidly dimming.

But a win, albeit an ugly and fairly unconvincing one, keeps hope alive. The season still has purpose.

O'Shea's presence, however, isn't just about this moment in time. The Bombers very likely aren't winning the Grey Cup this season. The wounds are too deep and require more healing than one summer can offer.

But O'Shea brings promise. Promise that has no horizon. This isn't war and lives and freedom don't hang in the balance. Mike O'Shea isn't a hero.

Not like his father or Tom Stanley.

But he's the right football coach for this franchise. Friday's win alone doesn't bear that out. Nor does a 6-3 record and a remarkable turnaround. But time will. O'Shea is here to serve and Winnipeg is the better for it.

Twitter: @garylawless


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us