By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — The man who has been under extreme criticism among Winnipeg football fans faced the media Thursday morning to discuss the widespread disappointment and underperformance of his team.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vice-president and general manager Joe Mack was met with a round of questioning lasting well over 20 minutes, ranging from his controversial personnel decisions, the team’s on-field performance, and his firing of head coach Paul LaPolice.
“I understand that you’re disappointed. So am I. And frustrated. So am I,” Mack answered in his opening response to fans concerns and calls for his firing.
“That’s something I can’t control… I’ve had the opportunity to deal with (the Bombers board of directors) for the last two and a half years. I find them extremely intelligent, hard working, very thoughtful, they are super-fans of the club. They are very aware of the legacy of the Bombers within the community, and I think the fans should know they will always do what they ultimately feel is best for the club.”
“I’m the general manager. It’s going to fall on me. If we don’t get better, obviously, the board will have to make some decisions.”
Mack is definitely on the hot seat with the Bombers board, as he sits at 17-30 as GM and 2-7 this season. But most of the heat comes on the heels of one of the club’s worst losses in franchise history, a 52-0 drubbing in Regina on Labour Day weekend.
“If you check the record, there have been Grey Cup champions who have that type of game during their Grey Cup champion seasons. In the CFL, sometimes it happens. Unfortunately, that was last week, and I understand how everyone would be frustrated, hurt, and maybe even a little bit angry.”
But since the board expressed earlier this week that they will stick with Mack through to the end of the season, it is the fans who want answers now. Mack paused to make a point to share his message to them.
“Our community and our fans are part of our team. They make a big, big difference when they are cheering for our players. And our players talk about it all the time.”
“Now, I would maybe suggest to our fans to make you realize how important you are to the team and how important the Bombers are to the community — and a team is somewhat like a family to some degree. And if your teammate or your family member is maybe struggling, what you may want to think about doing is maybe try and support them and give them a little bit of patience, and even a little bit of love, because that’s what family members and teammates do. I do think our fans will realize that.”