July 22, 2020

Top 10 Exclusive : Thieves

Less Browne Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1991. Copyright photograph Scott Grant

The Winnipeg Football Club has 90 years of history to celebrate, dating way back to the days of leather helmets and the Great Depression.

Over that time there have been countless great plays authored by superstar players… and average Joes, too. There have been memorable games featuring iconic moments and, dating back to 1930, this franchise has captured a Grey Cup championship 11 times.

Each week Ed Tait of cracks open the record book, dusts off the archives and dives deep into our collective memory banks for our Top 10 Exclusive list.

This week: TOP 10 ‘THIEVES’

It is the goal of every defence in the Canadian Football League – to not just defend their territory, but to take the ball away from the offence. Those turnovers can be both demoralizing to the opposition and game-changing plays that lead to victory.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 ‘Thieves’ – interception leaders – in Bombers history:

  1. Rod Hill, 1988-92: 47 interceptions – Had five picks in one game to set a CFL record, and the former Dallas Cowboys first-round pick was a mainstay at the corner during his days in Winnipeg.
  2. Norm Rauhaus, 1956-67: 34 – Versatile athlete and Kelvin High School product who played both sides of the ball and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone in a critical play in the 1958 Grey Cup. West Division’s top rookie in 1956
  3. Gord Rowland, 1954-64: 31– Four-time Grey Cup champ who was the West Division’s top Canadian in 1958.
  4. Reggie Pierson, 1978-83: 27 – Consistently got his hands on the ball in his six years with the Bombers, including a career-best seven picks in 1981.
  5. Less Browne, 1989-91: 27 – The CFL’s all-time interception leader with 87 during his career, including incredible numbers in Winnipeg that saw him pick off 14 passes in 1990 – a club record – and 10 a year later.
  6. Ken Hailey, 1983-91: 27 – Considered one of the toughest players in Bombers history, Hailey could deliver a crushing blow and steal passes, too.
  7. Paul Bennett, 1980-83: 26 – The Bombers traded with Toronto for the All-Star safety in 1980 and Bennett was a force in the middle of the air defence. Named the CFL’s top Canadian in 1983.
  8. Ed Ulmer, 1965-71: 25 – A defensive back and a punter, Ulmer began his career in Ottawa before a trade brought him to Winnipeg. A member of the Bombers Hall of Fame.
  9. Tom Casey, 1950-55: 23 – The man nicknamed ‘Citation’ was a running back, defensive back and punter and was the first Black player inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
  10. Jovon Johnson, 2008-12: 23 – A dangerous kick returner, Johnson brought those same skills to the defensive backfield when he intercepted a pass. In 2011 he was the first defensive back in CFL history to be named the league’s top defensive player.