The River City Renegade

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: From Brittle Buck to Wonky Willy, the beat(ing) goes on

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Down goes Willy! Down goes Willy! Down goes Willy!

Drew Willy, of course, always gets up and dusts himself off because, as we are reminded ad nauseum, he’s one tough dude. Trouble is, he doesn’t always finish what he starts. That is, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback too often is seen staggering off to the infirmary while his understudies are left to pick up the broken pieces of another fine mess the offensive line has gotten them into.

Such was the case yet again on Sunday afternoon at Timbits Park in Hamilton, where the Tiger-Cats beat up Willy. Then they beat up Brian Brohm. Then they beat up Robert Marve.

Why, I haven’t seen QBs get beat up like this since…well, since the last quarterback to play behind the Blue and Gold O-line. Guy’s name was Pierce. Buck Pierce. Had more owies than the ER at the Health Sciences Centre. Buck was as brittle as a piece of burnt toast. He doesn’t play football anymore, though. He got out before medics had to put a tag on one of his big toes.

Why do you think the Bombers’ starting pivot gets paid such large coin? His wage isn’t based on merit. Willy’s base salary is $100,000. The other $300,000 is danger pay.

I swear, if I’m Willy, I’m marching into general manager Kyle Walters’ office this morning and demanding to renegotiate. I want to cut a better deal. Except Willy can’t march, can he? At best, he can limp after being chased from the fray in the third quarter of Sunday’s skirmish, a 38-8 paddywhacking by the Ticats, who look to be the finest outfit in the eastern precinct of the Canadian Football League.

How bad was the O-line? The Tabbies had seven sacks in all, five in a laughable first half. Cripes, man, Caitlyn Jenner gets better protection than that from her fleet of hangers-on.

That’s not to say this face plant is all on the hogs up front. The Bombers specialty teams did some toe-stubbing, as well. Like on a punt that was partially blocked, and on a botched kickoff return, both plays leading to Ticat TDs as the home side put the game out of reach with a 21-0 advantage seven minutes in.

It was a good, old fashioned mollywhomping. That, at least, is how Milt Stegal described it in the TSN studio once the damage had reached 31-nada. The Bombers were “getting mollywhomped,” he declared, and I didn’t bother to look up the word “mollywhomped” in the dictionary. But I’m sure there’s a pic of a big, ol’ can of whup-ass beside the definition.

I must say, though, I’ve seen worse. Honest. I have. Hey, when you’ve been watching large lads grab grass and growl for more than half a century, you’ve always seen worse.

There was a playoff game in 1996, for example. It was 31-1 at the half. It was 68-7 at the finish. For the other guys. And that was a playoff game. That shameful exercise on a slick, snow-covered patch of earth at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton cost Cal Murphy the one thing he cherished almost as much as his transplanted heart—his job as head coach of the Bombers.

A 55-10 loss in the Banjo Bowl half a dozen years back wasn’t exactly the Mona Lisa, either. Nor was a 52-0 licking in the 2012 Labor Day Classic.

So, sure, the goings-on of Sunday afternoon were ugly. This was Tiger Woods golf game ugly. It was Donald Trump hair ugly. It was Jeff Reinebold head coach ugly. But it was far from the ugliest of the ugly. And ugly won’t even begin to describe what the Bombers will look like if Wonky Willy is unable to start another game he won’t finish due to his gimpy right knee.

Mind you, it doesn’t really matter who takes the snaps, does it. He’s a lamb going to slaughter. Make room in the infirmary for Robert Marve or Brian Brohm.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.

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