Bob a punting pioneer

Popular Bombers punter Bob Cameron said he's thankful to be named as an inductee into the Canadian...

Popular Bombers punter Bob Cameron said he's thankful to be named as an inductee into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (QMI Agency/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Bob Cameron just couldn't -- or wouldn't -- take the hint.

Eight times he was told he wasn't good enough, yet the stubborn kid from Ancaster, Ont., just wouldn't take no for an answer.

He refused to give up on his football dream, taking odd jobs and living at home while looking for that next chance to kick a football at the professional level.

Good thing, too, because on Tuesday the longest-serving player in Winnipeg Blue Bomber history became the first punter inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

There is no full-time punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, either, so Bob Cameron is not only a Hall of Famer.

He's a pioneer, too.

"I always said it's going to be a long time before any (punter) gets here," Cameron said Tuesday. "I couldn't be happier. And more thankful."

Cameron will join former Bomber defensive end Elfrid Payton, Saskatchewan Roughrider receiving great Don Narcisse, quarterback extraordinaire Tracy Ham and builder Joe Pistilli in the Class of 2010.

The always confident Payton figured he had a hall of fame career but was still surprised when he got the call. He said Winnipeg, where he played three times during his career, is a big reason why he's bound for the hall.

"It was huge," the man they call SWAC said Tuesday from New Orleans. "In fact, I talk about it all the time. Just everything about it, it grew on me.

"Cal Murphy basically giving me an opportunity and believing in me, that was a start."

It was quite the journey for Cameron, who had his dream dashed early and often in the late 1970s both during and after a stellar career as a quarterback/punter at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S.

He was cut (in order) by the Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders, Philadelphia Eagles, Ottawa Rough Riders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Buffalo Bills. The Toronto Argonauts took a serious look at him at an Ontario senior game in 1978 but traded for someone else the next day. The Bombers cut him for one week early in his rookie season of 1980.

He returned for the next game and never left again, appearing in 353 consecutive games -- a CFL record that will likely never be broken. He finally called it a career in 2002 at the tender age of 48.

"I couldn't be more fortunate," Cameron said. "I never led the league in punting. I did a pretty good job for a number of years. I had coaches that stuck with me when I was struggling. And that's how you hang in there as many years."

He figured his three Grey Cups wins probably didn't hurt his staying power, either.

"Once you win Grey Cups, everyone is sprinkled with that Grey Cup dust," said Cameron, who was the Most Valuable Canadian in the '88 championship game. "You were part of winning teams, winning organizations, and you've always got that in your background. For some reason they think you're a winner."

Payton, who is second to Grover Covington on the CFL's career sack list, said two moments stand out for him: being named the league's defensive player of the year in 2002 at age 35 and winning the Grey Cup with the Baltimore Stallions in 1994.

He ended up three sacks shy of Covington's record, but he noted that he didn't get credit for half sacks or forced fumbles by quarterbacks.

"I got 154 the hard way," Payton said. "But it's all right. I was recognized for it, and I really am appreciative of it."

The date and location of this year's induction ceremony is yet to be determined.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos