When you are having the type of season the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are, any kind of diversion is welcome. And so the Bombers annual Legacy dinner, which welcomes the football club's all-time greats into its Hall of Fame, comes at just the perfect time.
On Wednesday night, the doors to the exclusive club that includes the likes of Bud Grant, Ken Ploen, Dieter Brock, Joe Poplawski, Milt Stegall, Cal Murphy and so many other Canadian Football legends swung open to welcome builders George Graham and Ralph Warrington and one of the teams most spectacular on-field performers, Charles Roberts.
Graham served as club President in 1982 and 1983, and was instrumental in the hiring of Paul Robson as General Manager.
It was under Robson's guidance that the Bombers ended a 22-year Grey Cup Drought, winning the 1984 Championship in the first ever Grey Cup game played at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
Like all the presidents before and after him, Graham served the club tirelessly and with passion, giving of his time and energy without expecting anything in return.
Warrington's contribution to the Blue Bombers was somewhat unusual. He was the General Manager of the team’s radio rights holder, 680-CJOB, during some of the football club’s most difficult financial times in the 1990s. More than once, the Bombers were in danger of missing payroll or even financial collapse. Each time, they appealed to Warrington, who went above and beyond any reasonable call, writing cheques that kept the club afloat.
Roberts signed with the Blue Bombers on May 22, 2001 after a sensational career at Sacramento State. Little did anyone know what this small package of dynamite would achieve in the ensuing years.
At 5-foot, 6 and 170 pounds, Roberts defied the odds and proceeded to shred the clubs record book. For six consecutive years – starting in 2002 – Roberts rushed for more than 1,000 yards and was named to the All-Canadian all-star team each of those six seasons.
He finished his Bombers career with a club record 9,470 rushing yards, surpassing the great Leo Lewis. He holds the all-time Bomber mark with 37 career 100-yard rushing games, and his 79 touchdowns are second only to Milt Stegall in the Bomber record books.
Roberts was tough, durable,fearless and had that rare magic few athletes possess---the ability to lift the fans out of their seats.
Those of us, fans and media alike, should count ourselves lucky to have had the pleasure, indeed the privilege of being able to watch Charles Roberts’ wondrous talents during his eight years with the Blue Bombers.
And so, as the Bombers get set to meet the Eskimos Friday in a matchup, the induction of Graham, Warrington and Roberts into the football club's Hall of Fame is a pleasant reminder of the Blue Bombers glorious past.
Bob Irving has covered the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for CJOB Radio in Winnipeg since 1973. Bob is the Sports Director at CJOB and is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, reporters division. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobIrvingCJOB