CFL great Cal Murphy passes away

Legendary CFL coach Cal Murphy. (QMI Agency files)

Legendary CFL coach Cal Murphy. (QMI Agency files)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:26 PM ET

Cal Murphy, the driving force behind three Grey Cup wins for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers between 1984 and 1990, passed away on Saturday, according to TSN.

He was 79.

Murphy had been living in Regina for the last decade or so and was serving as a scout for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts at the time of his passing.

It was in Winnipeg, however, where Murphy will likely be remembered most fondly. After serving as Edmonton's offensive line coach for five consecutive Grey Cups, Paul Robson hired Murphy in 1983 to be the Bombers head coach.

He spent the next 14 years as either the head coach, general manager or both, and the Bombers won CFL championships in 1984, 1988 and 1990, the last time the franchise won a title. They also made it to the championship game in 1992 and 1993.

One of the hundreds of players he impacted issued his condolences via Twitter on Saturday night.

"He helped me get into this great league," wrote free agent offensive lineman Rob Murphy, who played for Murphy (no relation) in NFL Europe. "A true icon and builder. RIP.

"Man, this one shakes me to the core. Cal was one tough SOB. He used tell (me), 'Murph, ya should of seen me with my first heart."

Murphy, who was born in Winnipeg but grew up in Vancouver, was the CFL's coach of the year during his first two seasons with the Bombers, in 1983 and 1984. He moved to the GM seat in 1987, and the Bombers won titles in two of the next four years.

Murphy had to have a heart transplant in July 1992, but he was back on the job by the end of the year. He returned to the sidelines in 1993, guiding the Bombers to a first-place finish with a 14-4 record. It was the best mark of his CFL career.

The son of a Coca-Cola executive was known as a hard-nosed coach (players wore T-shirts that read 'I Survived Camp Cal'), but those who suited up for him said he was caring and loyal.

Murphy suffered heart attacks in 1978 and 1985. He ended up in a Regina hospital on life support in February 2010 but made a recovery.

Murphy won nine Grey Cups overall: three in Winnipeg, five in Edmonton and one when he was an assistant with the Montreal Alouettes in 1977. He also won a Super Bowl in 2007 with the Colts. He was most proud of his 1984 Grey Cup crown.

"Winnipeg hadn't won a Cup in 22 years, and that was exciting as hell," Murphy said on the day he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004. "Having 14 years in one city, that's pretty good. Not many people get that opportunity."

He was inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also instrumental in bringing the Grey Cup to Winnipeg for the first time in 1991.


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