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June 5, 2019

Alumni Profile | James ‘Wild’ West

James West Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1988. Photo John Bradley

Years with the Bombers: 1985-1992
Position: Linebacker
Currently resides: Atlanta, Ga.
Occupation: Fellowship of Christian Athletes Staff Representative – ‘Empowering the world for Jesus through the influence of coaches and athletes.’
Family: Married to my beautiful Queen – Regina Clark West – for only eight months now. My mom, who is full of love and peace, is 85.My biological father passed away in an accident at his work when I was 13. My super-step dad passed away two years ago. I have two surviving brothers, but lost four brothers and a sister.
My beautiful daughter Corrie has been married 21 years to John Pollard and they have four children – three boys and one girl. Two are in college, with the oldest playing football at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

5 Quick Facts about James West

  • West spent 12 years in the Canadian Football League, first coming north to the Calgary Stampeders in 1982 after a tryout with the Oakland Raiders. West spent the next three seasons with the Stamps and was a West Division All-Star in 1983, before heading to the USFL with the Houston Gamblers and also getting a look from the St. Louis Cardinals.
    He joined the Bombers as a free agent in September of 1985.
  • West enjoyed the best years of his career with the Bombers, being named an East Division All-Star and CFL All-Star in both 1987 and 1989 and being part of two Grey Cup championship teams in 1988 and 1990.
  • West’s 1987 season was one of his best statistically as he registered 75 tackles to lead the Bombers and added seven sacks. He was named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player that season and finished as the runner-up for league’ honours for that award to B.C.’s Gregg Stumon.
  • West earned the nickname ‘Wild West’ for his flamboyance on the field, his enthusiasm for the game and his zeal for life. Paired with Tyrone Jones, the two became inseparable and gave the Bombers swagger long before the term became trendy in Winnipeg.
    He still ranks eighth on the Bombers all-time quarterback sacks list and fifth on the all-time tackles list.
  • He was traded to B.C. in 1993 and finished his career with the Lions. West was inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

Fondest memory playing for the Bombers: Playing with my buddy Tyrone Jones. My relationship with him was monumental. Our lives together on and off the field left me with so many memories. It’s something people make movies about. I truly miss that brother.

Proudest football accomplishments: Winning my first Grey Cup in Ottawa in 1988 against the B.C. Lions – especially after being picked by so many to lose.

Proudest non – football accomplishment: Finding my destiny and purpose in life through this game. Football doesn’t build character, it reveals it. Not many find this place after football. Sports is something we do, it’s not what we become.

Favorite hobby/ pastime: I love to fish and play golf whenever I can. I love weekend driving trips to the mountains with my wife. Most of all, I love serving others. Bi-weekly we’re picking up donated furniture and other household goods and then giving it back to people who, amazingly, have nothing.

Prized football possession:  My 2016 Canadian Football Hall of Fame ring. I didn’t play the game for that and didn’t even think about it until after retirement. Then I saw guys getting into the hall that had smaller resumés than me. I took 21 years to be inducted, but I’m in.

Four former teammates you’d love to have dinner with again: The late, great Tyrone Jones, of course. Also: Lyle Bauer, Michael Gray, Delbert Fowler and Chris Walby.

Most talented Bomber player you played with was: James Murphy.

Bomber coach who had the most influence on you: Really? You’re asking me this? Of course one of the most impactful people in my life was my coach for many of my days in Winnipeg, Mike Riley. #BroCrush.

What you miss about playing football: I miss the locker-room experience. Arriving earlier than we needed to was important to me because it was a connection time. It was a safe haven for those who chose to be there early. Oh, and I miss the stories – especially those about the night before.

What you don’t miss about playing football: I don’t have any at all. I have more memories than regrets. I played out my time with football on my pace and quit on my own terms after accomplishing everything I wanted from the sport. It altered my life entirely. The pain that I felt was part of the process and no one can avoid the ‘Principal of Pain.’ It challenges us to get up when we get knocked down, only to get up and try again. With teammates like these guys we were Never Alone (credit Lyle Bauer).