October 8, 2021

10 Facts about the 1990 Grey Cup Champions

Pressure is on for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to end 24-season title drought as Winnipeg hosts Grey Cup. Winnipeg Blue Bombers' defensive back Rod Hill lets out a victory yell as he raised the Grey Cup over his head following the Bombers' 50-11 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in Vancouver on November 25, 1990. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Staff

They won and they lost together and, most of all, they fought for each other.

And if that sounds more than just a little familiar, it should, for most Grey Cup championship teams – including the 1990 Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the reigning Canadian Football League champions – have similar DNAs.

The 1990 squad is being celebrated at halftime of Fright night’s game against the Edmonton Elks with a video tribute honouring a team that captured the franchise’s 10 Grey Cup championship – and the last before the ’19 squad ended a long drought. Backed by a dominant defence, the Bombers finished first in the East Division in 1990 with a 12-6 record before edging the Toronto Argonauts in the East Final 20-17.

They capped it off with their second championship in three years, after also winning in 1988, with a 50-11 trouncing Edmonton in the Grey Cup. A reminder of all this came this week while scrolling through some old newspapers and coming across a Grey Cup diary the late, great Tryone Jones did while I worked at The Winnipeg Sun.

Said Jones after the Bombers victory on Grey Cup Sunday:

“We just kicked some butt today. All week people were saying we’re a cocky bunch of guys, that we talk too much. But we can back it up.

“The media said we were going to finish last. Then they said we’d never make it here. Maybe we should start saying they talk too much. They talk too much about things they don’t know about. You can’t measure a football player by statistics. You can’t measure what’s inside a man. We’ve got a bunch of guys who love to compete and love to make plays.

“… I’m just about to drop right now. I’m just so excited. The energy is running through me and I’m about to explode. I’m going to go out tonight, but I’m going to think about this for a long time. I don’t want to wake up from this dream.’

As a salute, here are 10 facts about the 1990 Blue Bombers Championship team…


The number of players/coaches from the 1990 Grey Cup team that have been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame – GM Cal Murphy, LBs Greg Battle, James West and Tyrone Jones, OL Chris Walby, WR James Murphy, QB Danny McManus, cornerback Less Browne and punter Bob Cameron.


A whopping 24 players/coaches/builders from that squad are in the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame: Murphy, Battle, West, Jones, Walby, James Murphy, McManus, Browne and Cameron from the list above, along with kicker Trevor Kennerd, centre Lyle Bauer, guards Bob Molle and David Black, defensive backs Rod Hill and Ken Hailey, defensive linemen Michael Gray and Stan Mikawos, linebacker Paul Randolph, receivers Perry Tuttle and Rick House, head coach Mike Riley, director of player personnel Paul Jones, assistant coach Dave Ritchie and then club president Ted Bartman.


The Bombers surrendered just 398 points in 1990 – the fewest in the CFL by a whopping 122 points. They also finished with 472 points scored – fewest in the CFL that season. Said QB Tom Burgess, after being named the Outstanding Player in the 1990 Grey Cup win:

“We just kept getting opportunities. This is the best defence in the history of the CFL. We do our job, but we don’t win football games, they win football games.”


Points scored by the Bombers in the third quarter of the ’90 Grey Cup – a championship record that still stands.

Winnipeg got touchdowns from linebacker Greg Battle on a 32-yard interception return for a score; Perry Tuttle on a five-yard pass from Burgess and two from fullback Warren Hudson – the first on an 18-yard pass from Burgess and the second a two yard run. All four scores were converted by Trevor Kennerd.


Players from the 1990 squad named to the CFL All-Star Team: LB Greg Battle, RB Robert Mimbs, OL Chris Walby, CBs Rod Hill and Less Browne and punter Bob Cameron.


Mike Riley was named the head coach of the Bombers in 1987 and was just 33 at the time. He would twice win the Annis Stukus Trophy as the CFL’s Coach of the Year in 1988 and again in 1990. The 1990 Grey Cup was his last game on the sidelines as the Bombers head coach as he left to coach the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football and later in the NCAA, NFL, Alliance of American Football and the XFL.


The Bombers defence forced 89 turnovers in 1990, a CFL record that still stands. That number was bolstered by forcing 13 turnovers – four fumbles, seven interceptions and two on downs – in a single game, a 34-17 win over Toronto in July of that year.


Rod Hill set the CFL record with five interceptions in a September 9th win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. (Incidentally, Bud Grant holds the CFL playoff record, also with five, in a win over Saskatchewan in 1953). Hill and Less Browne, the club’s two cornerbacks, finished with 12 and 14 interceptions respectively.

That year the Bombers finished with a whopping 48 interceptions – a CFL record that hasn’t been close to being matched in the years since. Calgary, by example, led the CFL in 2019 with 26.

July 1

The Bombers opened training camp in 1990 with Lee Saltz, Sam Garza and Danny McManus on their quarterback depth chart. On Canada Day that year and after some GM Cal Murphy made a deal with Saskatchewan, acquiring QB Tom Burgess for Saltz and the rights to receiver Allan Boyko (who would later play for the Bombers). Burgess led the Bombers with 3,958 yards passing that year and 25 TDs.


Rushing yards by Robert Mimbs in 1990, a total that led the CFL as the Bombers often relied on their dominant defence and a ball-control offence to win games. Mimbs would repeat as the CFL’s rushing champion a year later with 1,769 yards along the ground – a club record.