Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Bombers reeling from loss of Harris

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It's an emotional time for the Winnipeg Blue Bomber players.

The CFL team was back on the practice field at Canad Inns Stadium Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the sudden passing of defensive line and assistant head coach Richard Harris.

Harris suffered a massive heart attack in his office Tuesday afternoon. He was 63.

A handful of players spoke to the media about Harris and what he meant to the club and the city. The coming game, a tilt with the B.C Lions Thursday night, was merely an afterthought as the focus was still on the shock and disbelief that Harris won't be on the sidelines anymore.

Veteran defensive tackle Doug Brown said the loss of the popular coach has left the club with a big hole — one that will never be filled.

"It’s very difficult today," an emotional Brown said following the club’s walk-through. "We’re kind of lost out there defensively, especially our group. We’re without direction right now… without our leader.

"He was more than a coach. He made more of an impression on me than any coach I’ve been around. He’s one of the guys… everyone he met he affected. Obviously right now it’s difficult to think about the game (Thursday) but at the same time, the only tribute you can make to the guy is try to do him service on the field."

The Bombers' walk-through was eerily silent through most of the session. No player raised his voice, and coaches gave out orders with less volume than usual.

"It’s a real shocker and everybody is taking it hard," RB Fred Reid said. "But we’re going to rally around that (Thursday) and we’re going to win it for Coach Harris, because (that’s) what he would want if he was still here."

The club will wear stickers on their helmets that read ‘RH’ and a moment of silence will be observed before the game. Fans are trying to organize a grassroots "Richard Harris" chant for the game, as well, to show the rest of the country how beloved the coach was in this community.

"It’s very tough to even walk in the building," veteran SB Terrence Edwards said.

Thursday’s kickoff is at 7 o’clock.

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