Ploen believes Kelly has the right stuff

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Just after being named the 1960s' Most Outstanding Player of the CFL West, former Winnipeg quarterback Ken Ploen was named honourary captain for tonight's retro game between the Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes.

Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly, who has had QB woes since he took over, presented Ploen with a retro jersey of his own.

"Kenny, can you still play?" Kelly asked the CFL Hall of Famer, who led the Bombers to four Grey Cup victories.

Ploen was given the nod over Ottawa's Russ Jackson in fan balloting at CFL.ca.

"I'm extremely pleased and honoured to be recognized in such a category," said Ploen, 73. "Quarterbacks are as good as the team that surrounds them and I can tell you that, back in the '60s, I had some fantastic football players, a great coach and fantastic fans here in Winnipeg."

But it all started with head coach Bud Grant.

"Bud was a no-nonsense type guy," said Ploen, who lives in Winnipeg. "You either played well and played in the way he wanted you to play -- if not, you knew that you wouldn't be in there. I can't say enough about Bud Grant ... I don't think enough emphasis has been given to the coaches. It takes somebody out there to put (players) into a winning situation. It was something that Bud Grant had, that many others had, and I think we've got a guy sitting in this club right now by the name of Mike Kelly that's going to be in that same position."

Kelly asked Ploen to address his troops before tonight's contest. What'll he tell them?

"Kick butt."

Ploen and other Bombers from the 1960s will be at tonight's match, signing autographs in the south end zone.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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