Last champs Walby, Tuttle excited for Bombers, fans to soak up drought’s end


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Chris Walby went back in time Sunday morning.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/11/2019 (1169 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Chris Walby went back in time Sunday morning.

A perennial all-star offensive lineman in his 16 seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Walby retired from the CFL in 1996. But with his beloved Blue Bombers preparing to face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 107th Grey Cup, his instincts kicked in.

“I got up in the morning (Sunday) and I was a bear. I was a bear — like I was playing again,” Walby said Monday afternoon. “Seriously. My wife said, ‘What’s wrong with you, you cranky old…? I’m like, ‘I dunno.’ But I had this feeling it was time. It’s easy to say now, because they did (win) but I really had no doubt.”

Former Bomber offensive lineman Chris Walby understands the flood of emotion from Blue Bombers fans after the game. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Blue Bombers, who returned home Monday afternoon after a night of celebrating a dominating 33-12 victory over the Ticats in Calgary, did as Walby, a TSN 1290 analyst and a member of Winnipeg’s last Cup-winning team in 1990, believed they would.

“When I did my pre-game show yesterday, I had two points,” said Walby. “I said my two real indicators of who wins is the turnover battle, because the Bombers had created eight in the previous two (playoff) games.

“It’s any easy thing to say, but I predicted if you win that turnover battle — I predicted they’d take the ball away — and I also predicted they were going to eat up and win the time of possession. I think it’s 13 of the last 14 Grey Cups, whoever wins the time of possession wins the Cup.”

Winnipeg won the turnover battle 8-1 and dominated time of possession, 35:31 to 24:29.

After the game, Walby tweeted out words of encouragement to Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill and his teammates.

“I said, ‘The torch is yours now, run with it,'” said Walby, 63. “It’s nice to give it up. Boy, they sure played well. My God, that was a good game to watch.”

Walby said he understood the flood of emotion from Blue Bombers fans after the game.

“I think it’s been so long, the province and the Bombers fans who are no longer living in the province are just emotional and they feel a connection with this team,” said Walby.

“I think that’s because (GM) Kyle (Walters) and (head coach) Mike O’Shea have created a culture, when you’re a community-owned team, they can identify with these players.”

When news of Winnipeg’s victory filtered down to Perry Tuttle’s home in Charlotte, N.C., it was a special thrill for the former wide receiver and Walby’s teammate on the 1990 squad.

“I have friends all over the country who, when they see a CFL game, they either text me or call me and let me know,” said the 60-year-old Tuttle, whose ability to watch games on television has been affected in recent years by vision issues as a result of macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“I can see, but I haven’t been able to do the things I’ve wanted. It was still a great day for the Tuttle family. I’ve gotta be one of the luckiest guys in the world.”

Tuttle has a lasting link to the city where he spent the final six seasons of his football career.

“Congratulations to the Bombers and I’m really happy for the city,” said the father of six, now the co-owner of a software company in Charlotte. “My two oldest children (son Korde and daughter Karsynn) are Canadians — Winnipeggers — and they brag about the fact they were born in Winnipeg and they consider themselves more Canadian than American.”

Tuttle said the two teams, despite coming from different eras, should be linked forever.

“I think it would be awesome, since the Bombers won it yesterday — they ought to connect those two teams together,” he said. “I would fly to Winnipeg in a heartbeat just to be a part of it.”

Whatever happens, Walby is relieved the talk of a Grey Cup drought is over.

“Rumour is we’re going to have some sort of a 30th anniversary (celebration next season),” said Walby. “But it’s not gonna be like, ‘Hey boys, last time we won…’ Now it’s just gonna be a reunion. I like that feeling.”

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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