Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A lesson in True Blue brotherhood

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT... Between the traffic jam leaving the stadium and the train wreck he's been witnessing inside Investors Group Field, one of my long-suffering Bomber-fan neighbours is almost ready to give up on the season tickets he's had for decades.

"They've taken the football out of me," my exasperated pal remarked sadly on the weekend.

Not so quick, Bomber fans.

I have a happy Bomber story to relate, one that harkens back to the team's storied past.

With a twist of the present.

Biff Fliss is little known today, but he has one of those unforgettable football names. Biff was a bull of a Canadian fullback who played for the Bombers from 1948 to 1953. At least that's what I pieced together from a Free Press archives search.

He was on the same teams as three legends: Jack Jacobs, Bud Grant and Tom Casey, and fellow Canadian stalwarts Nick Miller, Bud Irving, Harold "Hal" Neufeld and Paul Cholakis, among others.

In a Free Press feature from 1949 -- a thumbnail called Know Your Bombers -- Biff was described as a 6-foot-2, 235-pound "Man Mountain" who was a "powerhouse on plunges."

Today, Biff gets around in a wheelchair and resides at the Middlechurch Home.

Naturally, given Biff is an old Bomber, and Middlechurch was opening its refurbished sports-themed lounge last week, the home turned to the Bombers for some support.

Eventually that support would come from Roy Rosmus, the-co author of Quiet Hero: the Ken Ploen Story, and a group of Bomber alumni who heard about Biff being there -- not from the Bombers, but from Rosmus and others. So it was last week they showed up to celebrate Biff, a guy who last put on a Bombers uniform 60 years ago. While they were there for the festivities they were introduced to some other former athletes -- from curlers to hockey players -- who now share a home with Biff.

Bomber board member and Hall of Fame player Trevor Kennerd was one of the visitors, and he brought one of Biff's former teammates, Bud Irving, who is in his mid 80s, but still keeps early morning office hours at the D'Arcy & Deacon law firm.

Two of Biff's other former teammates, Nick Miller and Harold Neufeld, were there for him, too. As was another Bombers off-field great; 91-year-old Gordie Mackie, who was the Bombers athletic therapist for more than a decade, during much of the Bud Grant Grey Cup era.

And then there was the always-classy Joe Poplawski, who gathered some "stuff" from the Bombers and brought it for Biff and the sports lounge.

As for Biff, he looked spiffy in his Bombers jersey. And happy to be with his old pals, again.

I don't know if Roy Rosmus and the alumni being there means anything to disgruntled Bomber fans like my neighbour, but to me the band of Bomber-brothers spirit Biff and the boys represent is what being True Blue is really all about.

Stand by your teammates.

And your team.

-- -- --

THE TOM AND LARRY UPDATE... It's been a few weeks since I wrote about former radio partners Tom McGouran and Larry Updike wanting to get back together. This week I emailed Tom for an update on reaction to the column and how the job search is going.

"We've had a tremendous response," Tom wrote. "Everywhere I go people say they saw it and ask where we're going to be. To that end, we have been in contact with all the companies in town and are awaiting meetings, etc. A lot is on hold till the Bell/Astral/Pattison station sales are final. Very excited to get back on the air."

-- -- --

LOOKS LIKE SOMEBODY IS READY FOR HIS CLOSEUP... Last week I was telling you about my six-year-old grandson Jacob's role as the body- or photo-double for Connor Corum, the child star of a film being shot here called Heaven is for Real.

But I've since learned the director has also given Jacob a couple of speaking parts in the movie.

So Wednesday, I texted my daughter on the movie set, where they've been spending most of the summer, and asked Erin how he's doing with all the hours he's putting in.

"He is enjoying it very much," Erin wrote. "He said he wants to do this again."

But next time, Jacob told his mom, he wants to be "the actor."

Do you laugh at that?

Or cry?

For now, I choose to laugh out loud.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2013 B1

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