Dressler must convert family in move from Riders to Bombers

Weston Dressler has two big goals now that he’ll be catching balls for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

One, the veteran receiver wants to help end Winnipeg’s four-year playoff drought and claim a Grey Cup championship that has eluded the CFL team for 25 straight seasons.

Two, he’ll try to convert his fiance from Regina and her family to be Bomber fans, rather than cheer for the Saskatchewan Roughriders team he played with for eight seasons.

“They were obviously upset, or more saddened than upset I should say, to see me not be a part of that organization anymore,” Dressler said of his fiance and her family when he met with Winnipeg media on Wednesday.

“They’re obviously fans of the Roughriders. We’ll work on getting them in some blue and gold (Bomber colours), though.”

The 30-year-old native of Bismarck, N.D., signed with Winnipeg on Tuesday after he and defensive lineman John Chick were cut by the Riders on Jan. 14. New Saskatchewan head coach and GM Chris Jones said in a statement the team tried to negotiate “more cap-friendly contracts” with them. Chick signed with Hamilton on Wednesday.

Reports said Dressler was set to earn $240,000 with the Riders this season, including bonuses, and signed a two-year deal with the Bombers for about $170,000 per season.

The two-time CFL all-star didn’t want to expand on comments he made after his release that he didn’t feel he was in Saskatchewan’s future plans.

“I made that statement just basically because of how everything went down and I’m not really going to get into that now because it’s the past and that’s over with,” said Dressler, who was fan favourite and active in the community.

“Like I said earlier, sometimes things happen for a reason, whether you like the way they go down or not. You have to make the most of the next opportunity that comes from it and that’s what I’m looking forward to now.”

Dressler said he waited to receive an offer from another club late last week, but chose the Bombers because of their potential and familiarity. He had played under new Winnipeg offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice in 2008 and ’09, as well as with players such as Bombers quarterback Drew Willy.

Both had a hand in wooing him to move to Manitoba.

“There’s definitely more than one thing that you look at when you’re trying to decide on where you want to play next, but there was just a lot more positives here than I was looking at elsewhere,” he said.

The five-foot-seven slotback was the league’s rookie of the year in 2008 and has hauled in more than 1,000 receiving yards in five seasons.

Last year, he had 70 catches for 941 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games with the 3-15 Riders.

The Bombers weren’t much better at 5-13, but Dressler said fortunes can change quickly in the nine-team league.

“Sometimes it just takes a couple pieces here and there to turn a team around.”

His friends and former teammates have joked with him about going to the rival Bombers and how “weird” it will be, but he doesn’t think it’ll be long before he feels at home.

He described playing in Saskatchewan as a “great” part of his life, and lining up on the opposite side of the field with the Bombers in Regina for the Labour Day Classic will be odd.

“That’ll definitely be an interesting moment for me,” Dressler said with a laugh.

“I’m sure it’ll be unlike any other on the football field for me. That’ll be a tough day for different reasons, but ultimately at the end of the day, once we get to that point it’ll be about finding a way to win that game with the Bombers.”

– CP