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January 6, 2020

Top Bombers of the decade

Andrew Harris (33) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after winning the 107th Grey Cup game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, AB, Sunday, November. 24, 2019. (Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL)

The decade that just was, the 2010s, gave the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a little bit of everything.

There were tear-downs and rebuilds. There was a division title in 2011 and then, mercifully, the end of a long championship drought just over a month ago with a victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 107th Grey Cup.

Along the way, football fans saw both some spectacular football and some, well, not-so spectacular football (see: Bombers 2012-15).

And now as the calendar turns to a new year – and a new decade – it seems ‘tis the season for lists, whether it be for music, movies or sports.  We just finished our annual Top 10 Bombers stories of 2019, but all the rage right now are the decade-ending lists.

In the spirit of that  – and admittedly, we’re not averse to ‘borrowing’ a good idea when we see one – bluebombers.com thought we’d begin another list that is certain to generate debate, with our Top 10 Blue Bombers players of the decade.

We wrestled with some of the parameters here before settling on our team, like what to do with players like Canadian Football Hall of Famer Doug Brown, who retired after the 2011 season, but really carved out the meat of his career in the decade previous. Ditto for Brendon LaBatte, who is stll playing and also destined for the CFHOF, but left the Bombers for the Saskatchewan Roughriders after 2011.

We also debated whether a player like Willie Jefferson – the newly-minted CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player – belongs on this list given he played only one season for the Bombers in the decade, as dominant as it was.

In that end, what follows are some rather obvious choices and also those who made an indelible impression for the Bombers during a decade that offered some good, some bad and some ugly. Call it the ‘Blue’s Best of the 2010s’…


ANDREW HARRIS

Position: Running back
Years with Wpg.: 2016 – present
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL Most Outstanding Canadian Player (2017); West Division Most Outstanding Canadian Player (2017, 2018); CFL All-Star (2016, 2017, 2018); Division All-Star (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019); 2019 Grey Cup MVP and Most Outstanding Canadian; CFL rushing champion (2017, 2018, 2019); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Canadian Player (2016, 2017, 2018).
Why he’s on our list: There really doesn’t need to be an explanation here, does there? He’s been everything as advertised, and then some, since signing with his hometown team as a free agent in 2016.

STANLEY BRYANT

Position: Left tackle
Years with Wpg.: 2015 – present
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman (2017, 2018); West Division Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman (2017, 2018 2019); CFL All-Star (2017, 2018, 2019); Division All-Star (2017, 2018, 2019); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019).
Why he’s on our list: Consistent, durable and the best O-lineman in the CFL over the past three years, at least. Let’s take it one step further: he’s a future Blue Bombers and Canadian Football Hall of Famer.

JOVON JOHNSON

Position: Cornerback/kick returner
Years with Wpg.: 2008-13
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2011); East Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2011); CFL All-Star (2011); Division All-Star ( 2010, 2011, 2012);  Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2011); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2011); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Special-Teams Player (2010, 2011).
Why he’s on our list: He was simply dominant at the start of the decade, winning four different Bombers Most Outstanding awards (outstanding, defensive and twice for special teams) while being the first defensive back in CFL history to win the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player honours.

JUSTIN MEDLOCK

Position: Kicker
Years with Wpg.: 2016 – present
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player (2016); West Division Most Outstanding Special Teams Player (2016); CFL All-Star (2016); Divisional All-Star (2016); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Special Teams Player (2016, 2017, 2018)
Why he’s on our list: Remember when some thought the Bombers had over-paid for Medlock when they signed him as a free agent in 2016? Now think of all the clutch kicks he has hit and all the perfectly placed punts. He’s already fourth on the Bombers all-time scoring list and among the most-accurate kickers in CFL history. Here endeth the discussion.

MATT NICHOLS

Position: Quarterback
Years with Wpg.: 2015 – present
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2016, 2017)
Why he’s on our list: The Bombers traded for him in September of 2015 when Drew Willy was injured, and when Nichols became the unquestioned starter the following summer the team’s fortunes began to turn for the better. That wasn’t by coincidence. A pending free agent, he is 39-21 as a starter here in Winnipeg, led the club in passing for five straight years and moved past Tom Clements into fifth place on the Bombers all-time passing yardage list last summer.

CLARENCE DENMARK

Position: Receiver
Years with Wpg.: 2011-17
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2014); Division All-Star (2014); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Rookie Player (2011).
Why he’s on our list: He was a consistent contributor, even during some dark days after his rookie season. Upon his retirement he ranked fifth on the Bombers all-time receptions list and 8th on the Bombers all-time receiving yardage list.

HENOC MUAMBA

Position: Linebacker
Years with Wpg.: 2011-13
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2013); Divisional All-Star (2013); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2013); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Canadian Player (2012, 2013); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2013).
Why he’s on our list: Try not be jaded by the fact he left for the NFL and opted, a couple of times, to sign elsewhere after he returned to the CFL. His three years in Winnipeg – his first three as a pro – were damn good and he piled up the hardware along the way.

TERRENCE EDWARDS

Position: Receiver
Years with Wpg.: 2007-13
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2010); Divisional All-Star (2010, 2011); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2010); Inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame (2017).
Why he’s on our list: He led the Bombers in receiving in both 2010 and 2011 and was a CFL All-Star and the club’s most outstanding player in 2010. He retired fourth on the Bombers all-time receiving list behind only Milt Stegall, James Murphy and Joe Poplawski. Heady company.

ADAM BIGHILL

Position: Linebacker
Years with Wpg.: 2018 – present
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2018); West Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2018);  CFL All-Star (2018); Divisional All-Star (2018); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2018); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2018).
Why he’s on our list: It says something of how spectacular Bighill’s 2018 season was that his follow-up campaign, which featured 61 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, two tackles for a loss in 15 games – plus some superb work in the playoffs – is considered a ‘down’ year.

MAURICE LEGGETT

Position: Defensive back
Years with Wpg.: 2014-18
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: Divisional All-Star (2016); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player – 2014, 2016.
Why he’s on our list: Leggett twice led the Bombers in interceptions (2014, 2016) and had a knack for making critical plays during critical moments.


Those who were on the ‘bubble’ – feel free to debate among yourselves whether they should have been included in the Top 10:

Taylor Loffler

Position: Safety
Years with Wpg.: 2016-18
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2016, 2017, 2018); Divisional All-Star (2016, 2017, 2018); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Rookie Player (2016).

Willie Jefferson

Position: Defensive end
Years with Wpg.: 2019 – present
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2019); West Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2019); CFL All-Star (2019); Divisional All-Star (2019); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2019); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2019).

Chris Randle

Position: Cornerback
Years with Wpg.: 2014 – 18
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2017);  Divisional All-Star (2017);  Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2017).

Doug Brown

Position: Defensive end
Years with Wpg.: 2001 – 11
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2010); Divisional All-Star (2010, 2011), Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Canadian (2010); Inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 2012); Inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2015).

Darvin Adams

Position: Wide receiver
Years with Wpg.: 2015-
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: Division All-Star (2017, 2018); Led Bombers in receiving yardage in 2017 and 2018; Has 296 receptions as a Bomber and close to moving into the club’s Top 10 in receptions.

Glenn January

Position: Offensive tackle
Years with Wpg.: 2009-15
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: Division All-Star (2011, 2012, 2013); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman (2012, 2013, 2014)

Brendon LaBatte

Position: Guard
Years with Wpg.: 2008 – 2011
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2011); Divisional All-Star (2010, 2011); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman (2010, 2011 also 2009)

Jamaal Westerman

Position: Defensive end
Years with Wpg.: 2015 – 17
Awards with Wpg. during the decade: CFL All-Star (2015); West Division All-Star (2015); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Player (2015); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Canadian (2015); Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2015).