The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are anxious for the opportunity to defend their historic Grey Cup victory, but like many things during the COVID-19 pandemic, their season remains on hold.
Grey Cup MVP and hometown hero Andrew Harris told 680 CJOB it’s frustrating — especially as training camp would have started this week, with the first preseason game scheduled for May 24 — but waiting is the right thing to do.
“It’s kind of tough, to be honest, because you don’t know how things are going to play out,” said Harris.
“You try to do what you can to stay in shape and have the edge of, ‘here we go, here we go, here we go’ … but usually, we have timelines and dates that we have to be ready for, and right now, everything is all over the place.
“For the moment, we’re just waiting to see what happens and being optimistic and hope for the best.”
Harris said he’s as excited as the Bombers fans to see IG Field back in action, with the Grey Cup banner being hoisted for the first time in almost 40 years, but that’ll come when it’s safe to do so.
“At this point, right now, the fans are very excited — the province as a whole is still very excited about what we accomplished — there’s a lot to be proud of.
“Stay together, everyone has each other’s backs, and we’ll get through this.”
Concerns about the 2020-21 season go well beyond just the potential for the Bombers to defend their title.
The Canadian Football League (CFL) made headlines earlier this month after they requested up to $150 million in financial assistance from the federal government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie testified Thursday at a House of Commons committee that the league’s future is “very much in jeopardy”, and that the most likely scenario is that the upcoming season gets cancelled outright.
“Ours is a big brand but not a wealthy business,” Ambrosie said. “Unlike large U.S.-based leagues, our biggest source of revenue is not TV — it’s ticket sales.
“Governments coping with COVID-19 — for reasons of public health that we totally support — have made it impossible for us to do what we do. Our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season. And our most likely scenario is no season at all.”
For Harris, the paused — or worse — season means staying physically sharp and ready to resume play if and when it happens — and to sit back and relive some old glories with the benefit of distance.
“It was amazing to be up there. I was crying, I was in tears, there was so much going on. It was an amazing moment,” he said.
“(But) honestly, the whole process just kind of flew by. You don’t really realize it because everything’s going by so fast — playoffs, media, the practicing.
“It’s kind of nice to relive the whole thing again and look back on certain moments you appreciate and took for granted.”
Bomber fans will have the opportunity to relive the team’s historic Cup run beginning this Friday on 680 CJOB.
The station will be airing encore presentations of key games — including the home finale, the west semifinal, the west final, the championship game and all of the post-game and parade coverage — each night from Friday through Monday, beginning at 7 p.m.
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