For the third time this week … more on former Gryphon players working in the CFL. This time Justin Dunk did the writing. You can find his latest story – Bombers in good hands heading into the draft – over at CFL.ca. Dunk covers the background connections that brought Kyle Walters and Mike O’Shea together with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Then he tells the story of Walters selection of O’Shea as his head coach. And finally Dunk focuses on their work to rebuild the Bombers talent pool. First, through free agency period that began Feb. 11. Next, via the 2014 CFL Draft coming up on May 13.
Between now and draft day Walters, O’Shea and the third Gryphon on the Bombers staff, Pat Tracey, will make time to be back in Guelph for the Gryphons Football Gala Dinner on Saturday, May 3. A large turnout of their former teammates and players is expected. Tickets are still available but need to be ordered quickly here. [If you’re in that group (former teammates & players) and want to get seated at a table with friends from your era be sure to get in touch with Dan Crabbe (1990s) email@example.com or Randy Dimitroff (1980s) firstname.lastname@example.org]
By the way Justin Dunk will be the Master of Ceremonies and Kyle Walters is the Keynote Speaker. The Gala will have some new features – a wine tasting opportunity presented by Ziraldo Estates Winery, an early opportunity to taste the Gryphon Gold beer that Wellington Breweries will launch several weeks later, a licensed hospitality room after the Dinner is over. The Silent Auction will be the biggest and best ever. It was already better than anything I’ve seen at a similar event. Two-thirds of the CFL’s teams have contributed, plus the Atlanta Falcons, NFL Canada, the Hockey Hall of Fame and many, many more. If you want to stay overnight rooms can be booked at the special price of $112.
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A Winnipeg Free Press story – Bombers brass pleased with training camp – shares the thoughts of O’Shea and Walters on their initial mini-camp. In another WFP story –Remade Bombers looking like pros other people talk about the professionalism that Walters and O’Shea are bringing to the franchise.
… the biggest reason for Bombers fans to feel good about what their team accomplished at mini-camp this week has nothing to do with what they discovered about the 55 players who attended and everything to do with what the players discovered about the Bombers.
Just listen to what kicker Brett Maher — a highly coveted prospect out of the University of Nebraska who is being pursued by at least one NFL team — had to say about the Bombers organization after his workout Tuesday morning.
“I’ve definitely been very pleased with this organization and with the coaches and scouts and staff that I’ve been in contact with. That’s something that you can’t substitute in any business, is working with good people.
And … some excerpts from Justin Dunk’s article:
“There were a couple of general managers I know that offered their advice and I picked their brains. And the underlying comment I heard over and over again for it to work organizationally the general manager and the head coach have to be on the same page,” Walters explained.
“They have to have a working relationship, be able to close the door and hammer out their ideas and move on and both be pulling in the same direction.”
“The immediate first guy that popped into my head as the man I wanted as the head coach was Mike O’Shea, so of course you go through the process.”
“I think it’s very important that the head coach and the general manager have a good working relationship and see football in a similar light,” O’Shea added.
. . .
When free agency opened five days later on Feb. 11 the Bombers were rumoured to be targeting a number of players and they managed to land one of the biggest pieces on the market in receiver Nick Moore.
“It was a chaotic day, and Mike and I went out to Earls and had a few beers and kind of took a deep breath. For the first time it was like holy mackerel this is the real deal,” Walters said.
. . .
With all of the preparation work put in, Walters envisions a smooth and simple procedure come draft day.
“It shouldn’t be a panic it should be a nice controlled environment where we’ve done all the work and we just have to check mark down a list.”
Walters and O’Shea will experience yet another football event together by selecting their inaugural draft class in Winnipeg as the top decision-makers for a professional franchise. Adding another chapter to their history with one another in the Canadian game.