Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brown joins elite club

Bombers hasten ex-lineman's induction into hall of fame

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The Toronto Maple Leafs will suck. Politicians will lie. A small, but annoyingly loud, minority of Winnipeggers will oppose the expenditure of public funds on any major project.

And Doug Brown will be inducted into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame.

"What are things that are stone-cold locks, Alex?"

To the surprise of no one -- except Brown, that is -- the Bombers announced Wednesday that for just the third time in franchise history, the club was waiving its three-year waiting period and immediately inducting Brown into the club's hall of fame.

Perhaps you've heard of the only other two Bombers players to be inducted immediately upon retirement -- Milt Stegall and Bob Cameron.

Like those two Bombers icons before him, Brown was accorded special treatment and immediate honour based both on his longevity -- he retired this winter after an 11-year career with the Bombers as a defensive tackle -- and his contributions on the field.

In Brown's case, those contributions included 429 career tackles -- second all-time on the franchise list. Just as impressive -- and maybe even more so given the inside position he played on the defensive line -- were Brown's 52 career sacks, third all-time for the Bombers.

Against that backdrop, Brown was perhaps the only man in the room who was surprised when he faced the media Wednesday afternoon following the Bombers' announcement that he was being inducted less than a month after he officially announced his retirement.

"It's a tremendous honour. The timing of this -- the schedule that went down -- definitely caught me by surprise," said Brown. "It caught me a little off guard, but I couldn't be happier."

The two other men who will be formally inducted along with Brown at the Bombers' 2012 Legacy Dinner on June 18 -- former club presidents Ken Matchett and Reg Low -- had to wait considerably longer than Brown to receive their honours.

Matchett was president of the Bombers for two years in 1986-87, while Low also had the job for two years from 1994-95. Both men are still active volunteers with the club and both men recalled Wednesday shepherding the Bombers through turbulent times during their reigns at the top.

Low was president of the Bombers during the ill-fated CFL expansion to the United States -- an ultimately disastrous move that the Bombers were alone in voting against. It was a tough time, but Low's memory of the job is only positive.

"It was a wonderful, wonderful experience," said Low, a 54-year season-ticket holder, "and if asked, I'd do it again. Over and over."

Matchett was in charge of the Bombers during another difficult period in league history when the folding of the Montreal Concordes a day before the start of the 1987 season led to the Bombers being moved to the East Division. The lack of a TV contract around that time also forced the league to broadcast games themselves.

"It was a challenge just to break even," said Matchett, calling this year's move to a new stadium for the Bombers a "dream come true."

"We are very excited to be inducting three very worthy members of the Blue Bomber family into the Hall of Fame," club CEO Garth Buchko said in a statement.

"Both Ken and Reg were excellent examples of how to successfully oversee the Winnipeg Football Club during their tenures as president and Doug has just wrapped up a career in which he cemented himself as a true Canadian Football League legend."

Brown's induction into the Bombers hall of fame comes after a previous induction into the hall of fame of his alma mater, Simon Fraser -- leaving just the inevitable formality now of his induction into the CFL Hall of Fame.

While he's now retired, Brown described a life of public appearances that is just as busy as ever. He is speaking, for instance, in Minnedosa this weekend -- alongside CFL and NFL legend Warren Moon -- at the Minnedosa and District 15th annual Sports Dinner.

"It comes with a free hotel room in Minnedosa," Brown grinned.

Brown also revealed Wednesday he's been offered a job as a guest panelist as part of TSN's CFL coverage this coming season, but the details are still being worked out.

"I was told I'd make a number of guest appearances on their panel this year," said Brown. "I still don't know how many that's going to be or what games or anything like that. Going forward, I hope those things will be decided sooner rather than later and everything will fall into place after that."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2012 D2

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