So the Toronto Argonauts don’t want to play in Wade Miller’s bubble?
According to reports on Friday, the people who run three-down football’s most ignored squad have a problem with coming to COVID-friendly Manitoba for a nipped and tucked campaign this fall.
This despite the fact Miller, the Grand Poobah of the Blue Bombers, has put together a plan that impresses federal and provincial government health officials.
“From my perspective, from a public health perspective, we are quite encouraged by the model being put forward,” Dr. Howard Njoo, this country’s deputy chief public health officer, said on Friday.
It’s the second consecutive week Dr. Njoo has been Mr. Yes when it comes to Miller’s plan.
Provincial pandemic guide Dr. Brent Roussin has also said he likes what he’s seen.
So what’s the problem with the team from the Centre of the Universe and, we’re told, a couple of others around the CFL?
It can’t be the idea of playing before a sea of empty seats. The Argos do that every home game.
Hamilton seems to be fully on board.
Ticats president Scott Mitchell took a poke at the plan’s critics on Twitter, Friday.
“Amazing that the @CFL could work exhaustively with world class physicians/advisors, the CFLPA and both the province of Manitoba and a very very strict federal health authority who speak positively about the plan yet some people think they know better than all those listed above,” Mitchell tweeted.
Maybe they don’t like the notion of being restricted to bubble life in Winnipeg: hotel-bus-stadium, rinse and repeat, every day.
It seems to be working just fine for the NHL.
If players making millions a year and used to living in sprawling palaces can do it, what’s the big deal for a five-figure salary CFLer?
The league might not be able to afford the 14-restaurants and 13 fitness centres the Winnipeg Jets had access to in Edmonton, complete with basketball courts, pool and ping-pong tables and theatres.
But I’m sure Miller could arrange to set up a couple of those Toys “R” Us hoops in the parking lot and have a few hot-dog carts pulled in.
Besides, it gets cold here in October, so everybody will want to stay inside and play video games anyway.
Getting approval from the health experts and some cash from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gang, now down to a $30-million, interest-free loan, were supposed to be the hardest parts of the CFL’s return-to-play plan.
The cheque from Ottawa isn’t in the mail, yet, although that may have more to do with the slow machinery of government than anything.
But if some teams aren’t even on board, this is like throwing a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game while your O-line has stopped blocking and your receivers are walking off the field.
LITTLE NOT AN RV MAN
Those season-ending gab sessions with Jets players, coach Paul Maurice and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff produced a few tidbits I wasn’t able to squeeze into this space on Friday.
Like Bryan Little explaining how he couldn’t fly to Cambridge, Ont., because of the surgery he had on his damaged ear, so he rented an RV to get his family home.
Suddenly, Little felt like a rookie again.
“I think the RV was far too big for my comfort,” he said. “It went smoothly with the two-year-old in the back and a couple dogs, but it was windy up north and those things blow all over the road. So definitely would get a smaller one next time, or something I’m more comfortable with.”
CODY, MEET BRYAN
Little says one of the hardest parts of being hurt most of the season was being apart from teammates who’d become his friends.
They’d go on the road, he’d stay home. When they played at home, he was in and out of the facility for treatment before their days began.
“Obviously we kept in touch as a team over the summer and had our Zoom calls to talk about what’s going on with the league and the return-to-play stuff,” Little said. “Other than that, there are some guys on the team that I barely know. Cody Eakin, I think I had one conversation with him when he first got here, and then I didn’t really see him again.”
The Jets acquired Eakin at the trade deadline in February.
HERE’S TO A FULL RECOVERY
One Little comment that stood out came from the medical practitioners who treated him.
“A lot of the doctors said I was unlucky, but lucky,” he said. “Unlucky about the chances of it hitting me in that spot and the injury, but lucky it could have been a lot worse.”
One of the most likable and cooperative athletes I’ve ever dealt with, Little was remarkably candid about the battles, physical and mental, he’s been through since taking a slap shot to his left ear in early November.
Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and can do whatever he wants whenever his playing career does end.
Maybe even rent another RV some day.
I’ll end the week with a rare plug.
Local curler and tennis instructor Sean Grassie has produced a book in conjunction with Manitoba’s 150th birthday.
Iconic Stories from 150 Years of Sport in Manitoba tells you why skeleton racer Jon Montgomery had a turtle painted on his helmet when he won a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics and how sprinter John (Army) Howard became Canada’s first Black Olympian, just to name a couple.
The 150th story capping the 383-page book: the Bombers’ drought-busting Grey Cup title last year.
It sells for a fitting $20.20 to mark the year of our 150th, and the best part: all proceeds go to KidSport Manitoba (get it at the KidSport website).
That makes it a winner already.
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