Touchdown would be sweet for Brown

Blue Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown works out during practice at Canad Inns Stadium in...

Blue Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown works out during practice at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., Sep. 28, 2011. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:13 AM ET

WINNIPEG - A shoe collection worth thousands, Milt Stegall’s imaginary horse — and a touchdown.

His one and only CFL touchdown.

These are Doug Brown’s favourite snapshots of Calgary, the scene of his first regular-season game, 10 years ago, and the scene of his last, this Saturday.

“I never even thought about that,” the Winnipeg Blue Bombers elder statesman said, Thursday, reminded of where he started his career. “You know what that means? It’s time to score another touchdown.”

And with that, Brown got on a roll, almost like the one he was on that July day, a decade ago.

“Remember that? It was 22 yards. Denny Fortney caused a fumble. It bounced right into my hands. I had Fred Childress chasing after me, so I didn’t really have to run hard. All the way to the end zone. It’s a beautiful thing to score in your first game. It’d be nice to score in my last game, too.”

Never mind scoring. How about just winning?

Brown’s Bombers licked the Stamps, 48-20, that day, on their way to a magical, 14-4 season that gave the B.C. native his best chance, yet, to end a pro football campaign with a championship.

It all must have seemed so easy, then.

And so much fun for someone who’d spent the first three years of his career in the buttoned-down NFL.

“We smoked out there in ’01,” Brown continued. “That was when Milt was pretending he was riding the horse up and down the sideline. That’s something that definitely stands out about winning in Calgary, was Milt riding the imaginary horse, over and over and over again.

“I didn’t even understand it at the time. It was my first time in Calgary. I said, ‘Who is this 85 clown, playing with phantoms on the sideline?’ I didn’t get it at all. But now I understand. It was a beautiful tribute to the Stampeders.”

A year later, still steaming from the Grey Cup that got away, stolen by those same Stampeders, the Bombers romped in the foothills again, by 15 points.

It would be the last time Brown and Co. emerged from McMahon Stadium with two points.

That visit also produced another colourful shot for the big man’s mental photo album.

“All I remember is Fred Fateri and how he used to talk about his shoes,” Brown said, recalling a former and laughable Stamps executive who knew more about fashion than football. “He had shoes that were worth thousands of dollars and he was very proud of that and he liked to express that to many people.”

Fast forward to the present, and the Stamps are a rebuilt organization three years removed from a Grey Cup title and gunning for another.

The Bombers, well, they’re still waiting to end a drought that began when Brown was still in high school.

A win this weekend would give the team and the man their best chance, and first division title, since Brown was a rookie.

Who knows, it might even create another one of those lasting, CFL postcard moments.

“Now I might do it,” Brown teased. “If we actually win the game, you might see me pretending to ride an imaginary horse up and down the sideline. Because there’s been so much frustration built up over the years over there.”

Giving Brown some hope: this edition of the Bombers always seems to win when, and where, it’s not supposed to.

“It’s a perfect situation for this team,” he said. “Because that’s all we do, things out of the ordinary. Anything that is usual, expected, regular — we’re not going to do that.

“In Backwards-land, where the favoured fail and the underdogs prosper, we have a great chance.”

For one person, at least, it’s also a last chance.

A last chance to add a matching bookend to the one he acquired 10 years ago.

And a last chance to create the defining snapshot for that album nestled on the shelf.

Worth more, even, than Fred Fateri’s shoe collection.


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