December 9, 2019

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They were special on 'teams'

Field position and the threat of an explosive return on our gloriously wide open field has always made the return game an important facet of Canadian football.

Over the years the Bombers have had some great ones, and this week it's your turn to select a kick returner for our All-Time Bombers team.

Gordie Rowland

Gordie Rowland

The candidates come from all eras with Leo Lewis, Jovon Johnson, Albert Johnson III, Gord Rowland and Ron "Pepe" Latourelle selected by our panel.

We're now into our fifth week of the voting and the team looks like a world-beater.

Voters have selected Ken Ploen as the quarterback, Chris Walby as the offensive lineman, Greg Battle as the linebacker and Bob Cameron as the kicker of the Free Press/TSN 1290 All-Time Bombers Team.

We're presenting a position each week over a nine-week period with our panel's choices of the top-five Winnipeg Blue Bombers to ever play for the club at that spot.

Cast your vote at alltimebombers.winnipegfreepress.com or see the ballot on page B3 of the paper edition.

On Friday afternoons at 4 p.m., live on TSN 1290's Hustler and Lawless program, the Free Press and TSN 1290 websites, as well as the Saturday edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, we'll announce the winner and member of the All-Time Bombers Team.

The Free Press print and digital editions as well as www.tsn1290.ca will run stories every Monday putting forth the position of the week and finalists selected by our panel. Voting will take place on both websites.

Albert Johnson III

Albert Johnson III

Legendary Blue Bombers player and coach Bud Grant headlined our panel. Grant was joined by former Bombers player and GM Paul Robson, Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee and Free Press sports reporter Ed Tait, Free Press columnist and TSN 1290 host Gary Lawless and TSN 1290's Andrew "Hustler" Paterson.

Panelists were provided a statistical breakdown of the Bombers dating back to the 1950s as well as an anecdotal package of the early Bombers teams, when statistics were not recorded.

Each panelist brought a unique perspective and personal set of criteria. Grant joined the group via conference call from a cabin in the Wisconsin woods while the rest huddled around a boardroom table at the Free Press offices.

From Grant's gravelly voice emanating out of the telephone speaker, to Tait's vivid recollections of games and players, to Robson's cold analysis of players' strengths and weaknesses, to Paterson's views from the upper decks of our stadiums, there were strong opinions all around.

Some players were quickly selected. Others were hotly debated. Sometimes it came down to a clash of eras. Others made it on the merit of championship wins while those without rings on their fingers were often set aside.

Jovon Johnson

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jovon Johnson

Vote a maximum of once per day and help choose the Blue Bombers player you consider the best at the following positions, to be presented in this order: Quarterback, offensive lineman, linebacker, kicker, kick returner, running back, defensive lineman, defensive back and receiver.

We've done our part. The final decisions are up to you. So vote and vote often. You're the GM of this team. Make your choices.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

LEO LEWIS*

1955-66

His prowess as a running back is legend in these parts. What is often forgotten is how dangerous he was as a returner. Still holds the second-highest career kickoff-return average in CFL history at 29.1 yards (Larry Highbaugh is first overall at 35.2) and ranks fourth overall in yardage.

Leo Lewis

Leo Lewis

JOVON JOHNSON

2008-13

A solid punt returner who regularly provided the Bombers with excellent field position while also starting at cornerback. Ranks first in club history in punt-return yards.

ALBERT JOHNSON III

2000, 2006-07

Made an immediate impact as a receiver/returner, being named the CFL's top rookie and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player in 2000. Left for the NFL and returned six years later. Holds the CFL record for combined yards in a game, with 474.

GORD ROWLAND

1954-64

Retired as the Bombers' all-time punt-return yardage leader (since passed by Jovon Johnson and Paul Bennett). First came to Winnipeg from Montreal to play soccer and made the Bombers on his second try. Was the Bombers' top Canadian in 1958 and a five-time all-star.

RON 'PEPE' LATOURELLE

1955-64

A hometown product, Latourelle played a key role on the four Grey Cup championships during the 1958-62 run. He ranks fourth on the club's all-time punt-return yards list and was inducted into the club's hall of fame in 1994.

Ronald LaTourelle

Ronald LaTourelle

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History

Updated on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8:38 AM CDT: Adds links, adds video

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