September 19, 2016

Honouring Bob Molle

Bob Molle Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1992. Photo Scott Grant

This is how it always works with Bob Molle: a quick chat turns into 30 minutes. And his energy and zeal is so contagious that it has anyone who comes into his circle ready to knock down walls, real or imagined, and do the ‘carpe diem/seize the day’ thing.

Yes, Bob Molle might turn 54 on Friday, but he still seems to squeeze more out each day than the average Joe does in a week.

An Olympian, Grey Cup champion, and award-winning coach by the time he was 26 – and triathlete, sales rep, author, father and motivational speaker since then – Molle will soon officially add another line to his already juicy resume at this week’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers Legacy Dinner:

Member, Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame.

“I told my mom and dad this the other day, and I think they were concerned: ‘If I died tomorrow you could pop a bottle of champagne because I’ve had the best life in the world,’” began Molle with a hearty laugh in a recent chat with “From the Olympics right into pro football to coaching a CIS (University of Manitoba Bisons wrestling) team at the same time in a sport I loved…

“I mean, it’s like a Cinderella story. I can hardly describe it or put it into words.”

Bob Molle

Born in Saskatoon, Molle’s athletic rise to prominence really began while attending Simon Fraser University and excelling in both wrestling and football. He won a silver medal as a super heavyweight at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and in 1985 was drafted ninth overall by the Bombers.

He was part of two Grey Cup championship teams in Winnipeg, in 1988 and 1990, and was one of the team captains, spending a good chunk of his career lined up at right guard between centre Lyle Bauer and tackle Chris Walby.

Bob Molle Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1992. Copyright photograph Scott Grant

“I go back to all the great relationships I had in Winnipeg,” said Molle. “The football was great, but it’s the relationships that are lasting. It’s the locker room I miss most and all those times I would just laugh my guts out with the guys.

“That camaraderie was amazing. Every second year I was there we were in Grey Cup. I got to Winnipeg in 1986, we won in 1988, won again in 1990 and lost in 1992. Two out of three ain’t bad, is it?

“We all got along so well. The thing that excites me the most is going back to see all the people. It’s sad, but when get together now, we don’t shake hands, we hug. From that Grey Cup team in 1990 we’ve lost Warren Hudson, Tyrone Jones, Steve Rodehutskors, Matt Pearce, Jeff Croonen…  I remember all those guys.

“I was so fortunate, so blessed to be drafted by one team and stay with one team my entire career. The book ‘Outliers’ by Malcom Gladwell talks about timing and how that affects things. Cal Murphy took over before I got drafted, Mike Riley and I got along so well, that O-line was so tight… so, the timing was absolutely perfect for me.

“I had a wonderful career. I never suffered a concussion and still have such good memories. You know, it’s funny how times change: I retired after seven years and back then they said, ‘Bob, you could play another four or five years.’ They told me I was crazy for retiring. Now, they say, ‘Bob, you only played seven years… you’re pretty smart.’”

Molle was always thinking two-three steps ahead during his playing days. An example: during Grey Cup week in Toronto in 1992 he would leave practice and head to Oakville where he was already beginning training to transition into the business world with a pharmaceutical company.

After he hung up his cleats, he shed a lot of his playing weight and began to attack other passions in his life. Vigorously, of course

“I hit 300 pounds when I retired,” Molle explained, “and my wife handed me a pair of running shoes and said, ‘You don’t have to bench over 400 pounds anymore.’”

Molle ran marathons, competed in 40 triathlons and two body-building competitions and then broke away from the business world to write a book — ‘Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable’ – that he has since parlayed into a career as a motivational speaker which takes him all over North and Central America.

Those tours will soon expand to South America after his publisher had his book translated into Spanish last fall.

So, there are 86,400 seconds in a day… and Molle seems determined to be active in every last one of them. Case in point: on the day we chatted with him, he had been up since 5 a.m. to deal with some business before heading out on a long bike ride.

“Hiking, climbing, biking… I can’t sit still,” Molle explained. “What can I say? I’ve been hard-wired my whole life. I’m lucky.”

Bob Molle Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1987. Photo John Bradley


A first-round draft pick of the Blue Bombers in 1985 (9th overall), Molle arrived in Winnipeg an already-accomplished athlete after capturing an Olympic silver medal in wrestling at the XXIII Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.

Molle also won four Canadian heavyweight wrestling championships, a bronze at the 1983 Pan American Games and the 1984 World Cup.

Molle would begin his career with the football club on the defensive line, but was switched to the offensive side and spent seven years with the club, much of it at the right guard spot alongside Chris Walby.

He was a member of both the 1988 and 1990 Grey Cup championship teams and is the only athlete to have both an Olympic medal and Grey Cup championship ring.

Molle is also a member of the Simon Fraser University Hall of Fame (1990), the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Hall of Fame (1991), the Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame (1992), the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame (1993) and the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1995).