May 20, 2014 2:56 pm
Updated: May 21, 2014 8:05 am

Winnipeg Blue Bombers hungry for new contract

WINNIPEG – Move over Buck’s Barbecue chips, Nick’s Quick Score chips are on the way.

The cracked black pepper and balsamic vinegar flavoured snack is one of a dozen new Winnipeg Blue Bombers food items that will soon line the shelves of Red River Co-op stores. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.

“It’s going to be cool,” said Nick Moore, whose face will adorn each bag of chips. “Just growing up as a kid, I never dreamed to be on something like this.”

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The receiver hasn’t even caught a pass with the Bombers yet after signing as a free agent — and it may be a little longer before he does. CFL players could go on strike in just over a week’s time with the league and the CFLPA at an impasse when it comes to contract talks. The league’s old four-year collective bargaining agreement expires May 29, right before the start of training camp.

“At this point, we all have to stick together as one,” said Moore.

The biggest sticking point is money. Owners have reportedly offered to raise the salary cap by $100,000 per team. The players say that amount is not nearly enough with a new television deal coming into affect this season that is thought to give each team an extra $2 million a season.

“I’m just looking at the big picture and hoping everything gets worked out for both sides,” said Moore. “Not only for us but for them, too, to be fair to everybody.”

The CFL has silenced teams from publicly discussing negotiations. Former Bomber Chris Walby said it’s time the league anted up.

“You have to start treating these players better,” said the 16-year CFL vet. “They’re out there doing the same thing that any other football league in the world is doing, which means risking injury on every potential play.”

Most players have gone since October without a paycheque.

The CFL has had only one work stoppage, a 12-day strike back in 1974.

Historically, the union has not been unified, but after recently electing Scott Flory as its new president, the union has already begun preparing strike ballots.

“It’s like anything in a strike vote, you have to have solidarity,” said Walby. “I think they’ve got it, but it’ll be interesting because it’s a secret ballot.”

Bargaining talks are expected to resume Wednesday.

THIRD DOWN: The Bombers signed two new players Monday — running back Kevin Smith and defensive end Louis Nzegwu. Smith spent five seasons with the NFL’s Detroit Lions, racking up 2,346 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 54 games. He also caught 123 passes for 1,082 yards and five touchdowns. Winnipeg also released import defensive end J.D. Griggs.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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