February 3, 2020

Alumni Profile | Chris Walby

Chris Walby smiles before CFL action between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes in Winnipeg Saturday, November 3, 2012. (CFL PHOTO - Marianne Helm)

Years with the Bombers: 1981-96
Position: Offensive tackle
Currently resides: Winnipeg
Occupation: Analyst, TSN 1290 Blue Bombers coverage
Family: Wife: Vera; Children: Brandon, Clayton, Christien, Matthew: Grandchildren: Ayden, Declyn, Levi, and newly arrived granddaughter Sawyer.

5 Quick Facts about Chris Walby

1. Walby grew up in Winnipeg’s North End, Polson Avenue to be exact, and didn’t start playing football until Grade 12 at St. John’s High School. He played with the Winnipeg Rods and then at Dickinson State in North Dakota.

2. Walby played junior hockey before turning to football, suiting up for 52 games with the West Kildonan/Kildonan North Stars of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League over the 1975-76 and ’76-77 seasons, scoring four goals and adding nine assists while racking up 275 penalty minutes.

Near the end of the 1977 season, he got into a fight in the pre-game warm-up with a player from the Dauphin Kings and Walby and another player were taken away by police and then involved in a two-day trial during the push at the time to take some of the violence out of hockey.

“Kenny Sutherland, a teammate and assistant coach, was on the stand talking about fighting,” Walby recalled. “He says to the judge, ‘Hey Judge, have you ever fought?’ And after the two go back and forth the judge turns to me and says, ‘Mr. Walby… if you’re basing your credibility on this man as a witness, you are in for a world of hurt.”

Walby was charged with assault causing bodily harm and given a two-year conditional sentence. It was then that he turned his attention to football.

3. The Montreal Alouettes drafted Walby, then a defensive lineman, in the first round of the 1981 CFL Draft but he was scooped up by then-Bombers GM Paul Robson that season. He was switched from the D-line to the O-line in 1982.

4. Walby isn’t just one of the most decorated players in CFL history, many argue he is the greatest lineman in the league’s history. Twice named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, he was a nine-time CFL All-Star, an 11-time East or West Division All-Star, the East Division’s top O-lineman four times and the Bombers’ Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman on nine occasions.

5. Walby was inducted into the Dickinson State Hall of Fame in 1990, the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 2000, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2003 and was added to the Bombers Ring of Honour in 2016.

Fondest memory playing with the Bombers:
There are probably too many memories to mention here, but winning the 1984 Grey Cup after a 22-year drought was special. And it’s something I am sure all of the 2019 Bombers can relate to now.

Proudest football accomplishment:
Being drafted in the first round of the CFL Draft in 1981. And then finding my way to Winnipeg mid-season (saving the details for the book) and being able to make the adjustment from D-Line to O-Line. And I guess playing 16 years and achieving Division All Star in my last year at the age of 40 was pretty special, too.

Proudest non-football accomplishment:
My family and of course, and all the friendships developed over the years because without these you really have nothing. I could add getting my Education/Teaching Diploma and having the opportunity to impact, hopefully in a positive way, the students that I came across.

Favourite hobby/past-time:
Relaxing with family and friends at our cabin in Petersfield, either on the front or back deck, to cruising on our pontoon boat with a cooler of ice cold beverages.

Prized football possession:
My three Grey Cup rings (1984, 1988, 1990) as well as the team pictures that remind you of all the great teammates you were lucky enough to play with over the years.

Four former teammates you’d love to have dinner with again:
Wow… Trying to narrow this down to four is like telling me that I’m out of beer after four. Very, very  difficult. But, for sure… Nick Benjamin, Steve Rodehutskors, Val Belcher, and Miles Gorrell. I have to keep it in the “family”, and you better add Stan Mikawos as he always wanted to be an honorary O-Lineman whenever there was an O-Line party.

Most talented Bombers player you played with was…
Again a tough choice to narrow it down, but off the top of my bald head… Tyrone Jones, Greg Battle, James West, and the very quiet Rod Hill.

Bombers coach who had the most influence on you:
All of my O-Line coaches. They were all special and helped me on a daily basis to get better each day. Special shout out to Charlie Carpenter who was outstanding.

What you miss about playing football:
“BNO”- Boys Night Out. The locker room, my teammates, the thrill of winning the big game and the agony of defeat. All are great memories.

What you don’t miss about playing football:
Two-a-days. Full gear every day. Full scrimmage before a Western Final. Watching the kickers laying around on the field drinking Slurpees while we were kicking the &*^% out of each other.