Bomber cattle call

Maybe it was the tow-truck driver who showed up with a beer belly and no football experience.

Or maybe it was the endless parade of guys who starred at Timbuktu-U and insisted they’d make sure-fire pros, if only given a chance.

For whatever reason, Winnipeg Blue Bomber general manager Brendan Taman has never been a fan of holding free agent camps.

That’s about to change.

Two weeks from today, the Bombers will hold the first of five wide-open tryouts, and the first in Taman’s nine years with the team.

“I won’t turn anyone away,” Taman said. “This is a cattle call.”

And if you have a horseshoe stashed in the right place, a stud like Buck Pierce might show up.


That’s right, the B.C. Lions stumbled upon their promising quarterback at a free agent camp in Portland two years ago.

An unheralded pivot out of New Mexico State University, Pierce learned of the camp on the Internet, drove up from his home in California and immediately caught the attention of Lions boss Wally Buono.

“I’m not saying it happens all the time, but it happens,” Buono said. “There’s two reasons why you do 'em. You have players that you’ve targeted, and you work them out. And then you have the Buck Pierces that just show up. He just kind of fell into our lap.”

Today Pierce is the envy of every other team in the CFL, a backup quarterback whose team doesn’t miss a beat when he plays. And it’s only a matter of time – or another injury to Dave Dickenson – before he’s the Lions starter.

Of course, for every specimen like Pierce at these shows, there is a herd of three-legged cattle with absolutely no meat on the bones.

Or, as Taman puts it, “500 guys that probably shouldn’t be thinking football is their career.”

“People always want to point out the Pierces,” Taman said. “But you don’t want to know how many names you don’t point out. It’s endless.”

Like the guy Taman had at his last camp, with the Lions back in '97 or '98.

“A tow-truck driver that had never played football,” Taman recalled. “Never, ever. Not good shape. No, no, not good shape. He didn’t make it through the camp.”

Teams charge a tryout fee, usually $50-$100, in an attempt to not only cover costs, but discourage the delusional.

“We do it more just to keep all the riff-raff from coming,” Buono said.

But thousands remain undaunted, flocking to try out for teams they’ve never heard of, chasing a dream they can’t let go of.

Some are athletic enough, having played college ball in the past. Some are just out on a lark.

“They’re there for a million reasons,” Buono said, recalling a college professor who used to show up, year after year. “Every year we came, he’d come and work out for us. He was like a 45-year-old guy.”


Buono swears by the camps, having found several players over the years, including receiver Tony Simmons and defensive back Ryan Phillips.

Calgary found receiver Marc Boerigter at one.

The Bombers, too, have a decent history with these things.

Former player personnel guru Paul Jones used to run them in the deep south, finding Juran Bolden, the star defensive back, and K.D. Williams, the flashy linebacker, in '95.

Over the next several weeks they’ll look for the next diamond in the rough in Atlanta, March 31, Jackson, Miss., Apr. 1, Dallas, Apr. 21, Cincinnati, May 5, and back in Atlanta, May 6.

"What do they always say? ‘You’ve gotta always turn over as many rocks as you can,’ " Taman said. "Going into this year we’re not going to be able to say we didn’t try this or we didn’t try that.

“Maybe we can unearth another Buck Pierce.”


...glad to see the free agent camp returned....Taman is on the right track here....the more the merrier....ya just never know????...Bombers are sure signing a lot of Canucks lately...... another good sign...keep er going Brenden... :thup:

Taman either woke up out of that coma or someone pushed his fat butt out the door to get some players. :lol:

Boy, this is a relief, when I read the subject line, I thought the Bombers were advertizing for cheerleaders.

It's great to see and as I've said before Taman's history has yet to be written. It's funny to me that a long time loser like Paul Robson seemed to have such good will in the city and yet Brendan is in this cloud of ill-will.

Very good I can just see Taman herding them into the cattle Liners. :lol: Blue and gold cows!

Id say he had about $3 million new found reasons for starting the camps again 05, amazing how that happens.

Well Piggy a small minded person would think that way. But we all know that this team may be in trouble when that money runs out now don't we. Unless of course the BB savior Asper comes to save the day. :lol:

I will take that as speaking from personal experience 05. Name one other team in the league that has had the same owner for the last 75 years. You havent earned the right to insult an organization thats been around that long pal.

What you have to earn a right to an opinion? Are we grasping for straws here? I respect several teams in the CFL. Unfortunately the Bombers are not one of those teams. The answer to your question the