CFLs get final word in war with Winnipeg

November 21, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Ken Rosenthal contributed to this article.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ever since the Baltimore CFLs arrived here Thursday, they had been under siege.

Criticized in the local news media for everything from their etiquette to their choice of hotel, the CFLs had the last word yesterday.

It belonged to Don Matthews.

"Let's blow this burg," the Baltimore coach said as players filed out of the locker room after a giddy 14-12 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. "You know what? Those other guys have to live here."

When the CFLs awoke yesterday, they were greeted with a banner headline in the Winnipeg Free Press that said, "Baltimore ain't got no couth."

In the end, after Baltimore had survived a barrage of snowballs from angry fans, early-morning phone calls from a prankster and loud music from Bombers management, the CFLs decided the shoe was really on the other foot.

"They said we didn't have class," said cornerback Karl Anthony, "but I didn't think what they did was classy."

Anthony answered with a big first-quarter touchdown on a fumble recovery and a fourth-quarter interception that snuffed out Winnipeg's last gasp.

Several Baltimore players were hit by snowballs, even after Winnipeg's public address announcer said anyone caught throwing them would be ejected. Cornerback Irvin Smith said he got hit by three. Running back Mike Pringle was hit near the eye.

The missiles came from the stands with such regularity that Anthony opted to keep his helmet on while standing on the sideline.

"What do you expect here?" defensive back Stan Petry said. "They thought it was fun."

No less disturbing was the loud music played when Baltimore broke its huddle. The CFLs had registered a complaint with the league before the game, only to have Winnipeg turn the volume up, not down.

"The crowd noise was a big factor," said tackle Shar Pourdanesh. "They kept playing loud music. I don't know what the ethics are, but they certainly didn't act in an ethical manner.

"The whole game we're getting hit by snow and ice. Nobody was doing anything about it. All week, there was nothing but lies about us and the way we acted. They talked about us having no class."

Wide receiver Walter Wilson, who played with a separated shoulder, waved his arms at the crowd, inviting them to make more noise.

"The fans were terrible," he said. "They had no class at all. We can't throw snowballs at them. We're just football players coming out to play.

"They got fired up. I got fired up." One fan went to the trouble of awakening Matthews, Pringle and quarterback Tracy Ham with phone calls at 3:30 a.m. yesterday.

Said Pringle: "The guy said, 'This is your wake-up call. Forgive me for disturbing your sleep. Congratulations on your season. But it will end tomorrow.' I hung up."

Matthews said he thought the Blue Bombers' relentless sniping was an attempt to create villains -- and sell tickets. The Bombers complained about Baltimore's choice of hotel, about their late arrival at a luncheon on Thursday, and that a few players wandered onto the field to see the Bombers practice on Saturday.

"They did the same thing when Calgary was here," Matthews said. "Evidently, it's their marketing philosophy. I call it WWF [for the World Wrestling Federation]. I think the game will sell itself if they would let it. It had the makeup of a great game.

"I never complained about the music. They used the electronic stuff to make it louder to help the fans make an impact on the field. I don't mind the fans who are here making noise. That's the whole home-field advantage."

Baltimore nose tackle Jearld Baylis, playing with a torn calf muscle, laughed at some of the things he read in his short stay here.

"I enjoyed everything I read in the papers," Baylis said. "They thought us being young and experienced, it'd affect us.

"Well, we aren't young and we aren't inexperienced."

Slotback Chris Armstrong said he didn't pay much attention to the sniping.

"Winnipeg is a great football team with a great scheme," Armstrong said. "Some of the things said before were just hype. I ignored everything except Winnipeg, and concentrated on playing 60 minutes of football."

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