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May 6, 2016

Good, Striving for Better

What a great time of year. One week from now, we will be on the field for the first time in 2016, running through five practices in three days with our entire offence led by Head Coach Mike O’Shea and our new Offensive Coordinator, Paul LaPolice.

But before we get to that, last week, noise was made off the field with the club announcing a combined profit of over $11 million dollars in 2015; fantastic news for the organization in a year where we struggled on the field. As we prepared to make this announcement last Wednesday and coordinated media interviews, I sat in President & CEO Wade Miller’s office and sensed that there was something bothering him.

11021531_971988456167449_2193440107991644765_o“This is a good number, but we could’ve made more,” he explained. And that, in a nutshell, sums up the man running this organization. Is he pleased and grateful for the tireless work our staff and volunteers who made the 103rd Grey Cup such a success? Absolutely. Is it still burning him up that we struggled on the field – enough to make Wade frustrated as it is – and in turn likely missed an opportunity to make more? Most definitely.

“That’s what keeps me up at night,” he told me. A record profit for this organization is a great thing, and he gets it, but nobody in our office sits back and puts their feet up because of it. Case and point – following the Fan Forum last Wednesday, Wade hosted alumni and staff for a reception at the stadium where some stayed late into the evening talking football and all things Bombers. It was one of a many positive moments for this organization over the past off-season.

But this is only a small victory on the way to the ultimate goal – winning a Grey Cup. And that’s how the current Winnipeg Blue Bombers organization is operated. Great work one day, but move on to do better the next. And the boss? Well, I received his first text message the next morning at 4:46 a.m. discussing a matter that upcoming day.

‘Yesterday was great, tomorrow let’s be greater,’ is his way of thinking. It’s taking this organization in the right direction, on and off the field.

A topic that is going to continue to creep up, including in an article written by the Winnipeg Free Press’ Paul Wiecek, is the contract status of our Head Coach, who enters 2016 in the final year of his three-year contract. Let’s be blunt; it’s going to come up, and often. It already has and will continue to. Sitting with the Coach in his office Monday afternoon, I asked him if he had read the story. He looked up from his computer and gave me a sly smile. He generally doesn’t read newspapers – and by generally, I mean never. But this time, he had. As you may know, Coach O’Shea doesn’t like to talk about himself. He doesn’t want credit when things go right, and wants the blame when they don’t. “I really don’t think about it (the contract), you know this,” he told me. “I’m not concerned because I have confidence in this team that all of those things will take care of themselves.”

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As I mentioned, our offensive mini camp gets underway at Investors Group Field on Monday, with the first of two practices of the day at 10:00 a.m. Players will begin filtering in later in the week, with the bulk arriving on Sunday. The three days are structured very similarly to training camp, with the players eating breakfast and lunch at Investors Group Field, having meetings throughout the day, and dinner together every evening. The practice times change each day based on what Coach O’Shea wants the offence doing, and we will send out a complete practice schedule in a few days. All offensive players under contract will be on the field, but as I’ve previously written, with no defence on the other side, Coach LaPolice will be using this three-day period to install and implement some items so that players are on the same page and rolling come the first day of training camp.