Friday 13 May 2011

Popp-ing Off at the Mouth May Awaken a Sleeping Tiger

It happens a lot in sports. Person goes on the radio, shoots their mouth off; fallout ensues.

Usually the culprit is a player, but in this instance it is a General Manager, and one of the most successful General Managers in CFL history.

Jim Popp, General Manager of the Montreal Alouettes, decided to go on the radio and take a few shots at the Ti-Cats.

He called out former Alouette Running Back Avon Cobourne (who signed with Hamilton in February) as well as the entire Ti-Cat organization for signing Cobourne, questioning why they'd do so.

Popp said that when members of the Ti-Cats' staff previously worked for Montreal – Marcel Bellefeuille, Tim Kearse and Brad Miller all worked for the Alouettes in 2007 – they "didn't want [Cobourne] playing in the backfield." He then implied that the move to get Cobourne was orchestrated by Tiger-Cat President Scott Mitchell and probably did not have the support of the team's coaching staff.

That has been refuted by the Spectator's Drew Edwards, who stated that he believes that if Bellefeuille "didn't want Cobourne, [Cobourne] wouldn't be [in Hamilton]."

Popp also claimed that Cobourne has "knee and ankle problems." While I'm sure Cobourne has some wear and tear on him (every player does at his age), he's looked fine to me that last few years in Montreal.

What Popp said isn't as important as why Popp said it. And that question still remains: Why did Jim Popp go on the radio and bash another team, let alone the Tiger-Cats? Yes, he was asked a question, but how many times have coaches and GMs ducked questions so as not to spark a controversy?

My take on the matter is that Popp can see the end of the Als' dynasty coming. Brian Chiu left last year; Ben Cahoon left this year; Anthony Calvillo has one or two years left in him; Marc Trestman will get an NFL opportunity sooner rather than later. The Als may be on their last legs, and Popp might see the Cats as their biggest threat.

That is not meant to discount either Toronto or Winnipeg. The Argos improved significantly under Jim Barker last year and got to the East Division Final. With their acquisition of Steven Jyles, they might be able to improve on their 9-9 record of a year ago. Winnipeg was the worst team in the CFL, finishing with a 4-14 record, but they lost a record 10 games by a touchdown or less. Lady Luck is unlikely to treat the Bombers so harshly two seasons in a row.

These comments aimed at Hamilton sound like those of a man who is starting to get scared. They come off like the GM of one of the best-run franchises in North-American sports is worried that his team is nearing the end of its very impressive run.

In taking shots at the Ti-Cats, Popp may have awoken a sleeping tiger.

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