WINNIPEG — Korey Banks was parachuted into Winnipeg to be an influential leader in the Blue Bomber clubhouse and a difference maker on the field.
Instead, he will be neither as it appears his days in blue and gold are over before they even really began.
The 11-year CFL veteran linebacker/defensive back, acquired in the off-season in a deal with the B.C. Lions for Kito Poblah, asked Sunday for his release, not being happy with a diminished role in the defence.
Banks did not play in Thursday’s season-opening win over the Toronto Argonauts after being put on the one-game injured list.
On Sunday morning, he used his Twitter account to say: “New chapter begins today.”
“Korey came into Kyle’s (Bombers general manager Kyle Walters) office today, spoke to Kyle and I and asked for his release,” head coach Mike O’Shea said. “We don’t have to make any decisions about our roster until 48 hours before the game (this Thursday). The focus right now is preparing for Ottawa.
“He wasn’t willing to accept the role that we had for him for this week.”
Banks had been banged up during training camp with hamstring and back issues and during his absence appeared to have lost his starting role to Johnny Sears, Jr. Glen Suitor of TSN reported prior to Thursday’s win over the Argos that Banks was a healthy scratch, a point that O’Shea vehemently denied after the game.
On Saturday, when asked if Banks had a future with the club, O’Shea said, “As of right now …”
The Bombers acquired Banks during the winter after the Lions weren’t willing to rework his contract. Bomber management saw the chance to add an experienced winner to their lineup as part of their rebuild.
Said Walters at the time of the Banks trade:
“Korey Banks is a leader of men. He exudes confidence and leadership. He’s a winner. The best thing about the trade was — and we can debate his on-field play — is what he’s going to bring to that locker-room. We need some guys to come in here and say, ‘This is not acceptable. This is the way you practise. This is the way you prep, this is the way you watch film. If you guys want to be winners, follow me.’ That was the primary point to making this trade.
“It’s not just about height, weight and how fast they run. There’s more to a team that.”
But clearly there have been some disagreements in how that voice might be best heard. Banks, quite obviously, feels he is ready to play and his influence is best displayed in a starting role.
The Bombers, meanwhile, don’t want to mess with a lineup that got them a win in the opener and so Banks was likely destined to spend another week on the one-game injured list. In the meantime, they have been trying to shop him around the league to gauge any interest before deciding whether to grant his wish and release him outright.
“I think there was still a role for him on our team,” O’Shea said. “Johnny Sears played very well, so did Teague Sherman. He wasn’t the only player to play that position.”
Asked if Banks’ reaction to his status wasn’t the kind of leadership they were seeking, O’Shea added:
“I don’t think he was willing to accept that type of leadership role. He believes leadership comes in a different way. I believe leadership comes from being out there on the field. My Utopian idea is that when a player says, ‘What’s your goal? What do you want to do this season,’ the answer is ‘Anything I’m asked of by the organization to allow us to win a Grey Cup.’ That’s the answer. That’s my perfect answer I like to hear, it’s not the answer everyone gives.”
» Winnipeg Free Press