February 15, 2024

Black History Month Feature: James Murphy

During February and Black History Month we salute some of the black players who have played significant roles in the Blue Bombers long history.

Today: James Murphy – receiver from 1982-90

The Blue Bombers discovered James Murphy at a free agent camp in California in 1981 and then-GM Paul Robson offered the Utah State product a contract on the spot. Murphy opted to wait and was drafted by Bud Grant’s Minnesota Vikings and attending camp with them and then earned a look from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Murphy made his CFL debut with the Blue Bombers in a Western Semi-Final win over Calgary in 1982 – catching a TD pass from Dieter Brock – and that was just a harbinger of things to come. He became a full-time starter in 1983 and over the next few seasons posted six 1,000-yard campaigns, was part of three Grey Cup championships and in 1986 was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.

He retired after the ’90 season as the club’s all-time leader in touchdowns (61) and receiving yards, both later surpassed by Milt Stegall. Murphy was inducted into the WFC Hall of Fame in 1995, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and was added to the Ring of Honour in 2023.

And, just as important for the product of Deland, FL, he found a lifelong home here in Winnipeg.

“I could have moved back to Florida. I could have gone to Vegas. I could have gone to a lot of places,” Murphy said last year. “But I felt like I had paved my way here and this was the place to give me my best opportunity to transfer the skills I had developed as a football player into regular society…I don’t know what you call it – maybe it’s fate – but it just all just came together perfectly.”