Blue Bomber Report Record: 5–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Legends left lasting impressions

Westwood and Miller did things their own way

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Wade MILLER is not your typical Hall of Famer. Ditto

Troy Westwood.

A pair of special teams aces, however, along with two of the club's finest builders in Ted Bartman and the late Bruce Robinson, will highlight the 2011 Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame class.

A kicker and a backup fullback is the easy way to describe Westwood and Miller but a deeper look into the pair reveals two Blue Bomber legends who left their own special marks.

Miller spent 11 seasons with the club and was considered one of the league's best special team players, leaving the CFL as the all-time leader in special teams tackles and holding the league record for most special teams tackles in a single season.

"To me this shows how football has evolved and all three components of a team, offence, defence and special teams, are respected," said Miller.

Miller was not blessed with great physical attributes but there was no questioning his football mind.

"I showed up at every training camp expecting to be cut. I still can't believe I played for 11 years. It's an honour to play that long for any team let alone the team in your hometown," said Miller, who filled the role of special teams coach for a season while still playing. "I spent a year working with my teammates as a coach. It's very unique for a 25-year-old to be a leader within an organization like that. It was a great learning experience for life."

Westwood kicked for 18 seasons with the Bombers and was a polarizing figure across the nation. Fans loved to hate him and detractors took great joy when he stumbled.

The Dauphin native spent his entire career with the Blue Bombers and left the league holding numerous records. Westwood came out of retirement during the 2009 season and has never been comfortable admitting he was done.

"I guess this means it's officially over," laughed Westwood at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Let it go," chimed in Miller, as the two laughed and enjoyed another moment in the spotlight.

Westwood was a three-time all-star and holds a number of club records and one league record.

"This is the cherry on top. It was such a great run. Living a dream every single day," said Westwood.

At times the public could be hard on Westwood but he remembers the high points.

"At the end, there were some well-documented internal struggles but the fans and the people of Winnipeg have always treated me exceptionally well. There was a blip on the screen after the 2001 Grey Cup but that's to be expected when you don't play well in a huge game. But on the whole there were just so many great memories."

Westwood had some infamous moments, including a feud with Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Ed Phillion and his "inbred bango picking" comments about the fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Bartman served on the club's board of directors for many years along with Robinson and he was thrilled to be entering the Hall of Fame at the same time as his dear friend.

"It's an honour to go into the Hall with all of these people but in particular with Bruce. He was such a great friend to me and to the football club," said Bartman.

Robinson's children, Brett and Leigh, were present on Tuesday.

"We used to always say to our dad, 'Someday when you go into the Hall of Fame,' and he would just shrug," said Brett. "It's not why he did it. But he would be proud to go in. Just like we're proud to represent him."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 6, 2011 C5

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

 

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