June 19, 2012
Bombers pick up Hall of Fame game
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - The regular season is yet to begin, but Winnipeg has already scored a CFL victory over East Division rival Toronto.
The Blue Bombers have snatched the Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction weekend from the Argonauts, after Toronto dropped the ball on the event.
The festivities were originally pegged to coincide with the 100th Grey Cup game, also set for Toronto in November.
"It was a complex change of things," is all Hall of Fame executive director Mark DeNobile would say, Tuesday, about the last-minute switch. "The board felt it would be advantageous going to Winnipeg."
The Bombers hope to provide a better atmosphere than the last time they hosted the event.
The Hall of Fame festivities of 2009 came as head coach Mike Kelly lorded over one of the most controversial and damaging seasons in the Bombers' long and storied history.
This year's event, Nov. 1-3, will coincide with the final regular-season game at the old stadium, Nov. 3 against Montreal.
It also means Blue Bomber greats Milt Stegall and the late Tyrone Jones, two of this year's inductees, will have their ceremonies at the site of their star-studded careers.
"My wife has never seen me cry, so I might shed a tear that day," Stegall, here for the announcement, said. "Because it will be a special moment, not only for me but so many people who allowed me to get to that point."
While Stegall will be honoured at his old stomping grounds, two other high-profile inductees, Damon Allen and builder David Braley, have strong connections to Toronto, Allen as a former quarterback, Braley as the Argos owner.
But the Argos, their hands full promoting the Grey Cup game in a city where the CFL remains a hard sell, let this one slip away, forcing the Hall to look elsewhere.
"They put the best package together," Hall of Fame board chairman Steve Howse said of the Bomber organizers.
Joining Stegall, Jones, Allen and Braley in the class of 2012 are players Jack Abendschan and Eric Lapointe and builder Peter Connellan.