Working with Bob (Knuckles) Irving came with a laugh track

I sometimes hit the mute button on my TV remote when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are grabbing grass on TSN, and it has nothing to do with Glen Suitor crushing on Keith Urban.

It’s just that I’d rather lend an ear to Bob (Knuckles) Irving, who’s been painting blue-and-gold word pictures from the CJOB broadcast booth with his smooth, calm delivery most every year since 1974, when he was fresh-scrubbed and greener than St. Paddy’s Day.

shania Twain

Knuckles’ voice is comfort food, like a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on a chilly Manitoba morn, and I can’t imagine him swooning over Mr. Nicole Kidman during an in-game interview. (Mind you, as I recall, he had a thing for Shania Twain back in the day, so if she were to poke her head into the booth I’m guessing his play-by-play call suddenly would become about as smooth as a long stretch of unpaved country road.)

The thing is, Knuckles doesn’t have much roadway left, just three more Bombers skirmishes, including the Dec. 5 West Division final at the Local Ball Yard In Fort Garry. And maybe—just maybe—he won’t pull the plug until after the Grey Cup game in The Hammer a week later, should the blue-and-gold clad lads advance to the Canadian Football League title joust.

In any event, Knuckles made his adios as voice of Winnipeg FC official this morning, at age 71, and I’m certain his retirement notice received an enthusiastic okie-dokie from his bride Daye, who’s watched her hubby swan off hither and yon every summer for nigh on half a century.

It kind of reminds me of the lyrics in a wonderful tune by country songstress Kathy Mattea, Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Roses: “Charlie’s had a good life, and Charlie’s got a good wife, and after tonight she’ll no longer be counting the days.”

Those of us who were privileged to work alongside Knuckles are counting down the days, though, because he ranks at, or near, the top of anyone’s list of good guys among news snoops. Anyone in the Winnipeg media more respected than Knuckles? Nope.

I started in jock journalism three years before Knuckles had his Bombers broadcast baptism in 1974 and, to this day, I’ve yet to hear anyone utter a discouraging word about the man who took the long way around the barn (Regina, Estevan, Brandon) before finding his wheelhouse in Good Ol’ Hometown. But why would they? He’s very funny, extremely witty, admirably thoughtful, and not at all prone to vanity in a business full of people who like what they see in mirrors. He’s as down to earth as a fresh layer of top soil.

The thing I remember most fondly about Knuckles is standing on the sidelines at Bombers grunt sessions, or in the stands during training camp, and laughing. Laughing at stupid things. Laughing at silly things. A lot of self-deprecating humor, like his acute fear of flying, which inspired his nickname.

Knuckles Irving

One year at Camp Cal in Brandon, for example, the two of us were perched on some wooden bleachers on the edge of the yellow, gnarled practice field near the university dorms, and Knuckles took note of a group of young boys loitering nearby.

“Punks,” he said, nodding in their direction.

“Punks?” I responded. “What makes you think they’re punks? They look like nice kids to me.”

“They’re teenage boys, aren’t they? All teenage boys are punks. Punks!”

He was smiling while yanking my chain.

“Punk is a good word,” I said. “It’s a descriptive word. Tells you right away that there’s a rough edge to a kid. And you can only call a boy a punk. Girls aren’t punks. Never.”

We watched a beat-up, old car rumble down the road.

“Jalopy,” Knuckles observed. “That’s a good word, too.”

“Also descriptive,” I agreed. “Soon as you say ‘jalopy’ everybody knows you’re talking about a rusty, dented ol’ beater of a car. And only guys drive jalopies. Women don’t drive jalopies. Never.”

Like I said, it was stupid stuff. Silly stuff. Kind of like a Seinfeld episode. About nothing.

But, hey, we had to humor ourselves while baking in a hot, summer sun for two hours, while awaiting Cal Murphy’s call to terminate training exercises.

Knuckles and I are the same age (okay, I won’t be 71 until Nov. 27), and I’ve often wondered why and how he kept trucking on. I wonder the same thing about a sports scribe like Terry Jones of Postmedia Edmonton. I thought the same about Bob Picken, who covered curling almost until the day he departed for the great misty beyond. Why and how? Why and how? After all, I bailed due to burnout after 30 years.

Well, it’s simple: They love(d) what they’re doing.

Knuckles still does, but he’s heard and acknowledged Father Time’s whispers about health challenges, and there’s a different kind of road to travel with his bride.

I doubt that means there’s an 18-wheeler in their future, but a few Shania tunes might be.

Don’t believe what they say about Winnipeg, Nate Schmidt…it’s (mostly) lies

Top o’ the morning to you, Nate Schmidt.

Have you been out back chopping wood and contemplating life today? I don’t have to tell you that’s good for the health and good for the soul.

I used to do something similar back in the day, Nate, when I owned 15 acres just outside St-Pierre-Jolys. I’d give the horses their morning feed, turn them out and then muck out the stalls and/or chop firewood. Very therapeutic. Came to some life-altering decisions while knee-deep in horse manure or whacking a tree with an ax.

So I can kind of relate to your soul-searching in recent days, wondering if leaving the Vancouver Canucks for the Winnipeg Jets was the right thing to do.

They tell me you had strong reservations about changing your postal code from the Great Wet North to the frozen tundra. They say you were as reluctant as a tax cheat heading to an audit. More to the point, like a lot of National Hockey League players, you had Good Ol’ Hometown at, or near, the top of your no-trade list.

Not sure what your hangups were, Nate, but I can assure you that whatever you’ve heard about Winnipeg is lies. All lies.

Except the weather, of course.

It gets cold, Nate. Bitterly cold. Cold enough to freeze the brass monkeys off the Golden Boy. You’re going to need all that firewood you’ve been chopping.

Nate Schmidt

Winnipeg won’t be anything like Vegas or Vancouver, where you could loiter on an outdoor patio in January, sipping a latté and staring at your smart phone, or whatever it is that young millionaires do with their down time. But you already knew that because you’ve spent time in Good Ol’ Hometown with the Washington Capitals, the Golden Knights and the Canucks.

The thing is, Nate, you haven’t seen Pegtown in its best bib and tucker. It isn’t the armpit outriders would have you believe. I can assure you that it’s not 10 months of winter and two months of bad skating.

Why, if you were to come up from your hideaway in the wilds of Minnesota this very weekend, I’d wager you’ll find that most of the snow from last winter is gone. What drifts remain are probably only ankle high now.

It’s true, though, Nate. You’ll be trading in your Shangri-La La Land umbrella for a snow blower, but you figure to make $6 million playing defence for the Winnipeg Jets next autumn, winter and spring, so you can afford to hire a kid from down the street and let him or her do your grunt work.

Just don’t chintz out on their Christmas tip, Nate, because I’m sure you know what it’s like to be on the business end of a shovel. You’re from St. Cloud, which sees plenty of the white stuff.

You’re also just a hoot and holler up the road from Minneapolis-St. Paul, which means you likely root, root, root for the Vikings.

Did you know that one of our favorite adopted sons is the greatest coach in Vikings history, Nate? That’s right. Harry Peter Grant is his name, but everyone in Good Ol’ Hometown knows him as Bud, and some even kiss his ring finger whenever he puts away his fishing pole to grace us with his presence on special occasions.

Bud coached our Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup titles, which is why he’s deity.

Win the Stanley Cup just once, Nate, and the locals might not be inclined to kiss your ring finger but they’ll probably never let you buy a beer again. Ever.

Meantime, I think it’s important that we discuss Winnipeg’s WiFi, Nate. You’ve visited enough to know that it’s just another lie. The WiFi doesn’t really suck, no matter what the San Jose Sharks say. I know this because I’ve used it. My connection never broke down more than two or three times every half hour.

So let me just leave you with this final thought, Nate: Winnipeg isn’t all about a wonky WiFi connection. It’s all about a good block heater.

Toronto doesn’t stink when the Blue Jays are beating Uncle Sam at his own game

I’m a Prairie girl, born and raised, and I don’t hate Toronto.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

There. I said it. I don’t hate Toronto.

I know, that’s positively blasphemous. I mean, it’s the sworn duty of every plow jockey’s daughter and/or son to look upon the Republic of Tranna with absolute disdain and associate the big city on the shores of Lake Ontario with all that is pungent. Indeed, we are taught this while barely off our mother’s breast. Mom, upon wiping our butt after the little jar of Gerber’s prune goop had kicked in and soiled our diaper, would recoil and gasp, “Oh, my, this smells just like Toronto.”

So, just like Prairie people long have known that New York is big but Saskatchewan has a burg that is Biggar, we’ve always known that Toronto stinks.

What I’ve never been able to figure out is this: Why is Toronto the subject of such scorn from the rest of Canada?

Oh, I know. It’s big. So what? Something or someone always has to be the biggest. Why not Toronto? Then there’s that whole Centre of the Universe thing, whereby those of us who reside in the colonies are made to feel inferior. Sorry, but that’s not of Toronto’s doing. That’s of our doing. It’s not like Toronto is going, “Na, na, na, na, na…I’m big and you’re not.” It is my experience, having worked and lived there on three different occasions and having visited numerous times, that very few Torontonians actually think that way. Apparently, the fact that we think they think that way is enough for us to dislike and distrust them.

If anything, we should be grateful to Toronto for providing us with wonderful sources of humor. The Maple Leafs. Rob Ford. Calling in the army to shovel snow. It’s all guffaw-worthy. And who doesn’t like a good giggle? So what’s not to like, right?

And now Toronto has been kind enough to share with us its Blue Jays.

The Great White North is in a state of baseball enthrall, and we seem to have decided that Muddy York doesn’t stink as much as our mothers led us to believe. We are root, root, rooting for the Toronto Nine in the Major League Baseball playoff tournament. We do so because they have become the home side and, for this, we need not place a clothes pin on the end of our nose.

What is it about this swaggering, bat-flipping Blue Jays outfit that makes you forget that you don’t like Toronto?

Well, for one thing, they aren’t the Maple Leafs. They aren’t the Toronto Argonauts, either. The Argos, of course, are the one sporting operative in the Big Smoke that has actually experienced success this century, most recently in 2012 when the Boatmen won the Grey Cup. Thing is, we only greet their achievements with mild annoyance because nobody in Toronto cares about the Argos, so why should we?

Apparently, Toronto also houses a National Basketball Association team, as well as an entry in Major League Soccer. But it’s like, who knew? There have been laughable efforts by marketing misfits and some dude named Drake to create a national identity for the Raptors. As if. That might have worked had they signed Steve Nash back in the day, but, as it is, their fandom is mostly parochial. The rest of the country doesn’t seem hip to the hoopsters.

stanley and world seriesThe Blue Jays, though…they’re a different head of lettuce and I believe I know why they make those among us who hate Toronto forget why they hate Toronto: Since we can’t win the Stanley Cup any more, we’ll happily settle for the consolation prize—the World Series Trophy.

Nothing could possibly climb up American noses more than a Canadian-based outfit besting Uncle Sam at his national pastime, especially if the Toronto Nine were to vanquish, say, those loveable losers from Wrigley Field in the Fall Classic. Everybody loves the Chicago Cubs, right? How can you not embrace a club that has stepped aside to allow other teams to win every World Series title since 1908 (hey, anybody can have a bad century)? Thus, beating the Cubbies in the rounders final would be akin to piddling on the White House lawn while the Obama kids are in frolic.

This is why us hosers have hopped on the Blue Jays bandwagon, like so many circus clowns cramming into a Volkswagen Beetle. The Americans think they’re so smug hijacking our hockey? We’ll take their baseball hostage. And if it’s a Toronto team doing our dirty work, we’re all on point.

Once the dirty deed is done, of course, you can resume regularly scheduled dislike for all things T.O.

Humble beginnings in a small, second-floor mail room

For those of you, like Amelia, who have asked (and keep asking), yes, it’s true, I once worked as a sports scribe. But please don’t hold that against me. I’ve reformed. I don’t write about jocks anymore. Quit cold gobbler just last week.

I began my journalism career in the mail room of a Winnipeg newspaper in 1969, the same year man first walked on the moon. The moon is still there. The newspaper isn’t. I would lug two, sometimes three, large sacks of mail from the post office across the street to the business office at the Winnipeg Tribune. Twice a day. Then I’d sort it and distribute it to the various departments of the six-story structure. It was my baptism in a career that stretched across three decades, followed by an after-life as a freelance writer/blogger.

I might write a book about it—Mail Room to Menopause: That’s all She Wrote after 45 Years. Here are the gory details…

Winnipeg Tribune—1969-80: Mail room, editorial copy runner, sports reporter.

Covered: Winnipeg Jets in the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Western Canada Hockey League, Canadian Amateur Senior Hockey League, Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League, amateur and professional boxing, tennis, high school football, university football, junior football, provincial curling championships, figure skating, auto racing, horse racing at Assiniboia Downs, Manitoba Junior Baseball League, high school track championships, bowling, Canadian national tennis championships…

Toronto Sun—1980-82: Sports columnist.

Covered: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Argonauts, Toronto Blizzard, North American Soccer League, National Football League, Super Bowl, Grey Cup, Major League Baseball, world championship boxing, world curling championships, minor league baseball, ATP tennis, Virginia Slims tennis, Canadian Open tennis, Canadian Open golf, horse racing at Woodbine, Harlem Globetrotters, 1981 Canada Cup, world junior hockey championships, world hockey championships…

Calgary Sun—1982-85: Sports columnist, sports editor

Covered: Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders, Grey Cup, Super Bowl, Pacific Coast League baseball, Pioneer League baseball, World Cup skiing, Stanley Cup final, local tennis, the Brier, Calgary Stampede rodeo, horse racing at Stampede Park, Seniors PGA tournament…

Toronto Star—1986: Sports copy editor.

Winnipeg Sun—1986-99: Sports columnist, Jets beat writer, sports editor (twice)

Covered: Winnipeg Jets, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Winnipeg Goldeyes, the Grey Cup, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, world championship boxing, local boxing, the Pan-American Games, horse racing at Assiniboia Downs, the Brier, world curling championships, provincial curling championships, Olympic curling trials, Morris Stampede rodeo, Manitoba Open golf tournament, junior golf, ladies’ Canadian Open golf tournament…


  • Only living sports reporter to cover both the Jets final game in the WHA and first game in the NHL.

  • Only living sports writer to cover Winnipeg Jets’ first rookie training camp in Ste. Agathe, Que.

  • Only sports writer to ever play an official game for the Winnipeg Jets (as a replacement for Patrick Daley in the final exhibition of rookie training camp in Ste. Agathe).

  • Only living sports writer to cover the last three Winnipeg Blue Bombers Grey Cup victories.
  • Only living sports writer to cover the 1975 World Junior Hockey Championships in Winnipeg.

  • One of only a handful of sports journalists to cover the Don Lalonde-Sugar Ray Leonard title bout in Las Vegas.

  • One of only a handful of living Canadian sports writers to cover Muhammad Ali’s final fight in the Bahamas.

  • One of only a handful of Canadian sports journalists to cover Canada’s first World Junior hockey championship gold medal victory, in Rochester, Minn., 1982.

  • Covered Edmonton Oilers’ first Stanley Cup championship.

Major events covered: Super Bowl-6

                                                Grey Cup-10

                                                Stanley Cup final-2

                                                World Hockey Association final-2

                                                World Hockey Championships-1

                                                World Junior Hockey Championships-2


                                                World Curling Championships-3

                                                Olympic curling trials-1

                                                World boxing title fights-2

                                                World Series-1

                                                Special Olympics-1

                                                Canadian Open golf-2

                                                Canadian Open tennis-1

Radio: Color commentary on Winnipeg Jets broadcasts, WHA and NHL; Host of Prime Time Sports on CJOB; daily sports commentary on CJAY in Calgary.

Television: Regular guest on Global late night sports, Sports Hot Seat (Calgary).

Freelance sports writing: The Hockey News (Winnipeg reporter), MVP magazine, Calgary Magazine, Canada History magazine, Tankard Times, Heart Chart, The Huddle magazine, Manitoba Hockey News magazine.

Work has appeared in: Every major daily newspaper in Canada, plus the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, the Denver Post.

Freelance work: Statistician and PR for Canadian Amateur Senior Hockey League.

                               Statistician and PR for Manitoba Junior Baseball League.

Post-mainstream media career: Copy editor, Canwest News Service in Winnipeg.

                                                                    Sports reporter, Victoria News

                                                                    Copy editor, Victoria Times Colonist

                                                                    Freelance writer, Monday Magazine

                                                                    Author of 10 books, including five with sports-related themes and one based in Winnipeg/St-Pierre-Jolys

Writing awards: 2012 Q Award for writing on LGBT issues in Victoria.

In the Community: Represented Winnipeg Tribune and Winnipeg Sun at countless charity functions.

                                         Bi-weekly contributions to Harvest food bank.

                                         Played for West Kildonan North Stars of the MJHL.

                                         Most valuable player in 1969 Greater Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association Juvenile tournament.

                                         Played for various teams in local slo-pitch and fastball leagues.

                                         Coached Peanuts League baseball at Bronx Park Community Club.

                                         Coached Midget hockey team at East End Community Club.

                                         Refereed and umpired kids’ hockey/baseball at Bronx Park.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders fans ready for Banjo Bowl

How can you tell if a Roughriders fan is a married man? There’s tobacco juice running down both doors of his pickup.

By patti dawn swansson

My friend Doug is one of those annoying Green People and, with the Banjo Bowl scant hours away, I knew he’d be paying me a visit in advance of the opening kickoff.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

Sure enough, he sauntered into the pub yesterday and, given that Doug is from Regina, it goes without saying that he was fashionably challenged—green Saskatchewan Roughriders sweater, green Rider shorts, green Rider socks (with black sandals) and, no doubt, green boxers.

“OK, Green Man,” I said in greeting, “my Winnipeg Blue Bombers are the worst team in the Canadian Football League and your Riders are the best team, so tell me your Bomber jokes. Give me your best shot. Fire away. Let me have it with both barrels.”

“Whatever do you mean?” he replied with a crooked grin. “Why would I poke fun at the Bombers?”

“Oh, Doug, don’t play dumb with me…oh wait…you’re a Regina boy. You have no choice but to be dumb. Dumb is in Regina’s drinking water.”

“Then your quarterback must have drank a gallon of water in Regina last Sunday, because that little routine he did in the end zone was about as dumb as dumb gets. I can’t believe he actually mocked Kory Sheets and taunted the fans.”

“Well, I’ll grant you it wasn’t the brightest thing Justin Goltz has ever done. But you have to understand that my Bombers get into the end zone about as often as your Riders win the Grey Cup. What’s it been, three Grey Cups in 100 years?”

“Why do you Bomber fans always bring that up? You’re always going on about our three measley Grey Cups and how we can’t count to 13. You people are as stale as a Jay Leno monologue. Don’t you have any fresh material?”

“You want fresh? I’ll give you fresh.

  • Did you hear about the Roughrider terrorist who tried to blow up the Bombers’ team bus? He burned his lips on the tailpipe.
  • How can you tell if a Roughriders fan is a married man? There’s tobacco juice running down both doors of his pickup.
  • What are the vital statistics of Miss Saskatchewan Roughrider? 36-24-26…and the other leg is the same.
  • How do you get Miss Roughrider out of your dorm room? Grease her hips and push.
  • What do Roughrider fans use as birth control? Their personalities.
  • How many Roughrider fans does it take to eat an armadillo? Two. One to do the eating, and one to watch for cars.
  • How did the Roughrider fan die from drinking milk? The cow fell on him.
  • Why do Roughrider fans like smart women? Opposites attract.
  • What’s the definition of mass confusion? Father’s day in Regina.
  • Why do seagulls fly upside down over Regina? There’s nothing below worth crapping on.
  • Did you hear that the Premier’s home in Saskatchewan burned down? Almost took out the whole trailer park!
  • As I was walking home from work last week I noticed a Saskatchewan Roughriders season-ticket nailed to a tree. I thought to myself ‘I’m having that!’ ’cause you can never have enough nails, can you?
  • What do you do if Darian Durant throws a grenade at you? Pull the pin and throw it back.
  • How many Roughrider jokes are there on this page? Only two. The rest are true stories.

“There you go, Green Man. How’s that for fresh?”

“Is that the best you’ve got, Bomber Girl? Pretty lame. You know why the Bombers are like Chinese food? ‘Cause you beat ’em once and half an hour later you want to play ’em again. What’s the difference between the Bombers defensive backfield and a bikini? At least the bikini can cover something. What do the Bomber coaches and the Pope have in common? They can both make 30,000 people stand up and scream “Jesus Christ, man!” Why did Buck Pierce cross the road? Because the hospital was on the other side. Now, before I go, I’ve got a little story for you. Have you heard the story about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bomber Girl?”

“Of course I have. Everybody’s heard that story.”

“Well, they left out part of the story in the original. It seems the dwarfs were marching through the forest one day and they all fell into a deep, dark ravine. Snow White raced to the edge of the ravine and peered down into the darkness. ‘Is everyone all right?” she called out. “Please, somebody say something.” From the depths of the dark ravine came a voice. “The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are Grey Cup contenders,” said one of the dwarfs. Snow White took a deep breath, then gasped, “Oh, thank goodness, at least Dopey is still alive.”

Enjoy the Banjo Bowl, kids.

Two kids, a watermelon and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers

I’m a member of Bomber Nation because of a watermelon. Yes, a watermelon.

My friend Chester and I, you see, were two kids who would hop on our bikes and pedal from Melbourne Avenue in East Kildonan to Canada Packers Field across the street from a rendering plant in St. Boniface. We would make this journey twice every day, morning and afternoon. We did it because Packers Field is where we would find our football heroes, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. These were the Bombers of Kenny Ploen and Leo Lewis and Ernie Pitts and Pepe Latourelle and Herb Gray et al, and while they grabbed grass and growled in taking the first steps in a season that inevitably would lead to another Grey Cup conquest, we would stand on the sidelines of this sun-scorched field and observe as if we actually knew something about football.

“I see the jury has arrived,” Ernie Pitts said as he greeted us upon arrival one day.

Chester and I looked at each other. The great Ernie Pitts, the all-star receiver, had spoken to us. We didn’t know how to respond or react, so we did what most kids would have done. We giggled.

Shortly thereafter, Bud Grant, the legendary coach, blew his whistle to signal a halt to the on-field activity. He gathered his players, spoke to them briefly and they began to trudge toward the sideline, most of them walking past Chester and I as they headed toward a white cube van parked near the west end of the field. They were sweaty. And stinky. This had been the final session of their two-a-day workouts, the most demanding, onerous and imposing portion of training camp. We followed them and watched with childlike curiosity as a man with a lumpy waistline opened the back door of the van. Watermelon. Inside was a truckload of beautiful, refreshing watermelon.

That was the players’ post-practice reward for making it through the two-a-days.

Chester and I collected our bikes and were about to leave when we heard a voice calling out. We turned and looked back. It was Bud Grant.

“Here,” he said, “you kids have been out here all week just like the players. This is for you.”

He handed us a watermelon. A member of the training staff cracked it open and two kids sat eating watermelon with the Grey Cup champions.

I’ve been a member of Bombers Nation since that day.

I share that fond recollection with you because I wonder about the current-day Bombers and their relationship with the fan base.

I mean, there are eight teams in the Canadian Football League and seven of them have been using the Winnipeg Football Club as a pinata for the past 22 years. Make that 22 years and counting, because the locals are rolling in the deep again this season and a Grey Cup parade down Portage Avenue in late November is as likely as palm trees sprouting in January.

Naturally, some in Bomber Nation are, shall we say, annoyed. They’re calling for a blood-letting. Off with their heads! Off with their heads!

Before we sharpen the blade on the guillotine, however, there’s something I’d like to know. That is, do the people responsible for this sporting travesty know why we take it so personally each time the Bombers stub their toes? Do they actually know why we rant, rave and demand that Gary Crowton be tarred and feathered? I ask that because of something Tim Burke said in the wake of yet another failed mission, this one a 27-20 loss to the B.C. Lions on Monday in Vancouver.

“I just ask everybody to give us patience,” the head coach of this 1-6, last-place, oh-for-the 21st century outfit told the Winnipeg Free Press.

Excuse me? Patience?

Yo, Tim! What part of 22 years without a Grey Cup don’t you understand? Seriously. Twenty-two years of face-plants and 30,000 people are still making the pilgrimage to the pews to watch Crowton’s pea-shooter offence. If that doesn’t say “patience” then Buck Pierce has never missed a game due to injury.

Bombers loyalists are patient like Bill Gates is rich.

Some, of course, might call us damn fools. Or suckers for punishment. After all, we keep running to No Wins Field out there in Fort Garry or, in my case, turning on the flatscreen just to watch our team find a fresh way to trip, stumble and fall, in large part because of an offensive co-ordinator who’s still operating with training wheels. But we aren’t fools or suckers. We’re owners. We, the people of Bomber Nation, own the Winnipeg Football Club. We care. That’s why many of us get royally PO’d when we endure yet another dreary defeat, then hear the head coach pleading for patience. Tim Burke just doesn’t get it. I doubt many of the Bombers get it.

The lads won’t be in a three-point stance again until Aug. 24 and I’m thinking they could use that down time for a crash course in Blue Bombers Football 101. They could recruit Kenny Ploen as their class prof, and I’m sure he’d repeat exactly what he told an audience the night the 1962 Bombers were inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

“How fortunate we were to play in a city like Winnipeg, with the fans that we had,” he said. “It was always a great feeling to represent the province of Manitoba and city of Winnipeg. It was a thrill representing the Blue-and-Gold. It was an honor to wear their uniforms.”

An honor to wear the uniform. What a concept.

Do today’s Bombers feel the tug of tradition when they pull that blue-and-gold sweater over their heads? Do they recognize that it once served as a symbol of excellence? Somehow I doubt it, but it’s time they did.

Pass out the watermelon, fellas, then start winning some football games.

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