Ben Stiller’s Zoolander is one of my favorite comedies of all-time. Though it’s hardly a masterpiece, Zoolander, to me, at least, embodies the early 2000s in such a way that very few other films managed to do. Watching it now feels like traveling back to a simpler time — a time when Donald Trump was just a harmless business mogul (if such thing exists), the term ‘selfie’ had yet to permeate popular culture, and the Bombers won more games than they lost.
In the film, Stiller’s character Derek Zoolander is a superstar male model who has been brainwashed to kill the prime minister of Malaysia at a high-profile fashion show (just go with it…). While on the runway, Zoolander hears the voice of evil fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) in his head reminding him to focus on the task at hand. “Concentrate, Derek,” says the voice, “do not be distracted by the beautiful celebrities.” The ‘celebrities’ in attendance include Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, rapper Lil’ Kim, Lance Bass of N’Sync, and comedian Garry Shandling. As mentioned above, this movie truly captures the early 2000s.
Like Zoolander, so, too, must Bomber fans not allow themselves to be distracted by the beautiful celebrities. Allow me to elaborate.
Kirk Penton of the Winnipeg Sun reported Wednesday afternoon that the Bombers were closing in on a deal with former Saskatchewan Roughrider receiver Weston Dressler. Defensive end John Chick, another recent cut of the ‘Riders, is also said to be of interest to the club. These reports come just one week after the Bombers were rumored to be courting former Montreal Alouette standout Duron Carter. Not to be forgotten, BC Lion running back Andrew Harris is set to hit free agency early next month and Winnipeg, his hometown team, is said to be the front-runner to land his services.
Dressler. Chick. Carter. Harris. These are big names in the province of Manitoba — bigger than Durst, Kim, Bass, and Shandling, anyway — and it’s easy to understand why a fan base as underserved as the Bombers’ would be excited at the prospect of adding them into the fold.
There’s only one problem: Bomber fans have read this script already. Twice.
Nick Moore, Dominic Picard, Stanley Bryant, and Marc Dile were all high profile free agents who signed with the Bombers over the past two off-seasons. None lived up to the hype.
Moore proved he’s not a top-tier receiver in the CFL. Picard was a shadow of the dominant interior force he once was. Bryant played nothing like the two-time CFL all-star he was paid handsomely to be. And Dile failed to make the Bombers’ final roster in his first training camp with the club.
There is only one true way to measure the success of a football team: wins. Wins in the regular season are good. Wins in the playoffs are great. Wins in the Grey Cup are the reason you play the game.
Thus far, flashy free agent signings have done little to increase the number of wins the Winnipeg Football Club has been able to accumulate since 2014. That isn’t to say free agent acquisitions don’t have value — Ottawa’s 2015 Grey Cup berth doesn’t happen without the additions of Chris Williams, Ernest Jackson, Greg Ellingson, and Brad Sinopoli through free agency — but teams have to bring in the correct players at the correct price and utilize them the correct way in order to be successful. Under their current regime, the Bombers have not.
As tempting as it will be for Bomber fans to fawn over whichever big-name free agents the Bombers are able to sign — I’m willing to go on record as saying they’ll land at least two — fans should be reminded that games aren’t won on paper or in February. As the old expression goes: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Who would you like to see the Bombers sign or avoid in free agency? Please comment below with your response.
John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk