Bombers look for fairy-tale ending to season
Vicki Hall, with files from Herb Zurkowsky, the MontrealGazette , CanWest News Service; Edmonton JournalPublished: Sunday, November 25, 2007
TORONTO -- The plot would fit beautifully in one of those cheesy Hollywood sports movies that are supposed to leave the audience weeping as the final credits roll.
Some unknown kid (Ryan Dinwiddie) from Boise State makes his first professional start in the 2007 Grey Cup and leads the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to victory over the neighbouring Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In doing so, Dinwiddie gives all-star slotback Milt Stegall the chance to walk off into the sunset with his first Grey Cup. He also provides kicker Troy Westwood the opportunity to end his career a hero instead of a tormented figure who looks a lot like Charlie Brown trying to kick the ball, only to have Lucy pull it away.
Sound unrealistic? Crazy? Not to the Blue Bombers, who are left with no choice but to believe in a fairy tale that may or may not come true today at Rogers Centre.
"It could be a classic movie one day," Stegall said Saturday. "You never know. Of course, I would be the star, but I know what you're saying. It would be fame and glory. It would be nice for it to happen. He deserves it. He works hard.
"He didn't come up here to be a backup. He's going to get the chance to play, and he's going to get his opportunity."
Is he ever. Dinwiddie, 26, draws into the lineup with starter Kevin Glenn on the sidelines with a broken arm.
"We won a Grey Cup with Sean Salisbury as our quarterback - no disrespect to him," Bombers president Lyle Bauer said. "And we had our chance to win one with Sam Garza. There will be 41 other guys out there trying to make a difference. There's something about Ryan that might surprise people.
"It's one game. We're not looking for him to lead us to first place or a 12-6 season. We're just looking at him to execute our offence. It's one game. Anything can happen."
So the result of the 95th Grey Cup comes down to whether Dinwiddie can play it safe, avoid turnovers and get the ball into the hands of his talented receiving corps and running back Charles Roberts.
And even if he can do that, will it be enough to beat a Saskatchewan team led by quarterback Kerry Joseph, the CFL's most outstanding player?
"Dinwiddie is an unknown," said Saskatchewan centre Jeremy O'Day. "One thing people have to understand is that every star quarterback had a first game some time in their lives."
Maybe so, but the six-foot-one, 190 pounder - considered too short and too light to play in the NFL - is making his first professional start start on the CFL's ultimate stage. A former water boy and big man on his high school campus, Dinwiddie has a chance to make a name for himself in one afternoon.
For better. Or for worse.
"It is Hollywood," Dinwiddie said. "I just want to win this game, and all that other stuff will come. I just have to be like a point guard. Distribute the ball to the playmakers and let them go win the game.
"I don't have to be Superman. Just make a few throws. Let the guys make plays. You know, they're the ones who got us here. I just have to get the ball in their hands."