Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Standing up for a statue to honour Bud Grant

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SHORT SHOTS... I gather the Bombers fans who were there for Wednesday's opening of the magnificent Investors Group Field feel the completion delay -- and maybe even the predictable traffic lineups -- were worth the wait.

But, there's some unfinished business at the new home of our beloved football team.

The club needs to celebrate more of the Big Blue greats from the past.

Especially two of them.

Last week, I was contacted by former Winnipeg police officer and current director of the Athletes in Action Manitoba office, Dallas Williams.

He had read Doug Brown's Free Press column that impressively detailed some of the Bombers greats whose faces didn't make their way onto the four gates to the park.

But he felt there was one who still needs a special tribute.

He meant Bud Grant, the legendary Winnipeg Blue Bomber player and, more famously, coach who is enshrined in both the CFL and NFL halls of fame.

When Winnipeg won four Grey Cups in the late 1950s and early 1960s it was Grant who was the sideline mentor of quarterback Ken Ploen, arguably the greatest Bomber of them all. The football club is supposed to honour the 78-year-old Ploen with a ceremonial naming of a street near Investors Group Field, although that appears to be somewhere down the traffic-jammed road. That slow-moving salute to the team's past is understandable, I suppose, given the Bombers are still struggling to simply deal with the present.

But, like Williams, I'm concerned the organization won't suitably celebrate Grant, who is the Bombers' version of Green Bay Packers' iconic head coach Vince Lombardi. The Bombers say Grant will be included among a group of former stars, many of whom were included on Doug Brown's long short-list.

That doesn't sound to me as if Bud Grant, who stands above them all, really needs to be seen that way.

What I mean is we should a erect a statue at the new stadium that celebrates Grant, who represents an era that, so far, we can only dream we'll ever see again.

Ideally, it would show Grant with a Bombers ball cap and headphones standing on the sidelines next to a kneeling Ploen.

That would put the proper finishing touch on Investors Group Field, one that honours both what the past has produced and what the future should strive to emulate: winning, and doing it with class.

I've heard there's already been talk of a statue to Grant among the group the club has designated to honour and that the statue concept needs a nudge.

Consider this a big nudge.

Furthermore, consider this: The Bombers should start a fund to commission a statue to Grant, who's 85 now.

If they do, I'd not only champion it, I'd be among the first to donate to it.

Out of respect, though, I'd leave the honour of first donator to David Asper.

You're welcome, David.

 

-- -- --

 

SPEAKING OF ICONIC... Kelekis, the legendary Winnipeg eatery that closed in January after more than 80 years of continuous family operation, may yet be the place to meet and eat again in the North End, although it wouldn't be called that.

WOW Hospitality's Doug Stephen -- who originally wanted to take over the place as it stood -- still has his eyes on the building. He's shopped at least one new concept with an established local restaurant owner. There's no deal on the table yet -- and there may never be -- but Stephen has been chatting informally with one family member, although he hasn't spoken directly to Mary Kelekis, the person who ultimately makes the decisions.

Mary is wide open to someone reopening the restaurant, just not under the Kelekis banner.

"I'd be glad if someone did that," she said.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2013 B1

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