WINNIPEG - Doug Brown kept a promise on Wednesday afternoon when he officially announced his retirement after 11 spectacular seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The all-star defensive tackle made a vow with his late defensive line coach, Richard Harris, that they would walk away from the game together. Harris died last July at Canad Inns Stadium, and on Wednesday Brown announced his retirement in the same building in which his mentor passed away.
“We had developed such a relationship, we actually made a promise to one another, a pact between us, that we’d started our careers in the CFL together — not on the team but at the same time — and we should end ‘em together,” Brown said. “He always told me he didn’t want to coach a defensive line group that I wasn’t a part of. And I always told him I didn’t want to play for anybody that was coaching me that wasn’t him. That was the extent and the strength of the relationship we had.”
Brown was a seven-time CFL all-star, an eight-time division all-star and was the league’s top Canadian in 2001. He made it through a 15-year pro career, including four seasons in the NFL, without needing surgery and missed only 10 games in 11 seasons with the Blue and Gold.
What endeared the B.C. native to Bomber fans the most was he made Winnipeg his home and was usually the most visible Bomber every off-season through his media work on the side.
“The fans, the people who are passionate about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, have been incredible throughout this province,” Brown said. “We’ve obviously travelled all over it, and the way the people feel about this football team, that’s the biggest thing you have behind your back. People like to ask me that I didn’t win three Grey Cups here and is it disappointing, but I like to focus on what I did get from this community. And it was a tremendous experience I had here, and I really feel like I’ve been a product of my environment in Winnipeg, playing for this football team.”
Brown said prior to the 2011 season that he was planning to retire, and he almost won his first Grey Cup in his final attempt. The Bombers, however, fell 34-23 to the host B.C. Lions in November.
“It’s a jackpot for this organization to be able to have him for 11 years,” Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said. “As we continue to look at the next people, there’s no better role model than Doug was.
“He was one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league, no matter what his nationality was.”
Brown won’t be saying goodbye to the CFL, as he will do guest appearances on TSN’s football panel this season.
“We’re really going to miss what you represent as a CFL player,” commissioner Mark Cohon said in a taped message during the press conference.