Bombers rolling out red carpet for Muamba

May 7, 2011, 1:50 AM

Here is what we have known since Tuesday: the Blue Bombers will use the first overall pick in the CFL draft to take St. Francis Xavier linebacker Henoc Muamba.

Here is what sportsnet.ca has learned since:

– There is no contract yet signed by Muamba and the Winnipeg franchise

– Folks close to last year’s Canadian university top defensive player say it is unlikely, even when the NFL lockout ends, that Muamba, an incredibly athletic prospect who someone in the Blue Bombers organization calls “a lunatic out there, a real beast,” would be pursuing options south in 2011

– From all the dialogue on both sides of the border, it is clear there has not been a single NFL team that has reached out to Muamba

– While the Blue Bombers and Muamba have not come to terms on a deal yet, “they have come to an understanding and a gentleman’s agreement,” a source close to the negotiations said

The Blue Bombers are not denying the report that Muamba will be the franchise’s top selection, and refused the CFL’s request to have the 22-year-old in studio for the nationally televised draft, rather wanting him in the Manitoba capital to gain full marketing value on Sunday and Monday.

In fact, according to a report, the Muamba family is traveling to Winnipeg for the draft.

In addition to that national report on Friday evening, Sportsnet has learned the Blue Bombers are rolling out the red carpet — flying in four family members on the team’s tab, taking their soon-to-be top pick and his four family members out to a high-end Winnipeg restaurant and putting them up in a downtown hotel as part of the pomp and circumstance.

“They wouldn’t do that without having security,” said a source close to the negotiations. You also have to wonder if this would be happening if Muamba had signed a contract.

There has been a sentiment in CFL circles that Muamba will follow the NFL path of Cory Greenwood, taken third overall by the Toronto Argonauts in the 2010 draft, who played in all 16 games with the Kansas City Chiefs last season.

But there are many differences between the two.

For one, Greenwood is two inches taller and 25 months older.

The Concordia University product was not scouted from the CIS level. Rather, he was first identified as a special teams prospect, because of his ability to long snap and his connection to the renowned Parisi Speed School in the U.S., which has a good relationship with NFL teams — including the Chiefs.

And, of course, most importantly, a year ago, there was no lockout; there was free agency; the NFL’s doors were open for business.

“Nobody is calling anybody,” said a source. “Henoc is not going to the NFL.”

Muamba himself told sportsnet.ca’s Perry Lefko he plans to sign immediately with whichever CFL club drafts him.

“Of course, I want to play football this year and the CFL is where I’m going,” the Mississauga, Ont., native said.

Still, with terms not negotiated fully on a contract between the player and the Blue Bombers organization, it becomes a risky proposition for the football club, which would lose leverage the moment they announce Muamba’s name Sunday afternoon if a deal is not yet complete.

Interestingly, Sportsnet has been told Winnipeg general manager Joe Mack is not negotiating the financials of the pact with Muamba’s camp; instead Blue Bombers director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson is handling the majority of the talks.

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