For linebacker Thomas Miles, a native Winnipegger, having the chance to be a part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers team that captured the Grey Cup after 28 seasons of frustration was “such an honour.”
Miles, who was in Thompson Feb. 5 as part of the Grey Cup tour and to speak to R.D. Parker Collegiate students about sexual assault and violence, said his late grandmother bought her first Blue Bombers season tickets in 1970 and that that account passed on to his uncle, meaning his family will have held those tickets for 50 years come next season.
“That’s a lot of history, a lot of blue and gold running through the blood of the veins in my family members so it was just incredibly special to be part of the team that ended, I think, the longest drought in team history,” said Miles.
It first sunk in that the team was going to win the championship a few minutes before the end of the game, but the highlight for Miles was during the Grey Cup parade, as the team made their way onto Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg.
“It was just lined with people, no traffic everything’s shut down,” Miles said. “It’s just us and the fans and the workers on the scaffolding and the suits in the offices clapping and waving. That was a real surreal and special moment for me as a Winnipegger.”
Miles’s teammate, fullback John Rush, who comes from Niagara Falls, wasn’t even born when the Blue Bombers previously on the cup in 1990. He said the atmosphere at the end of the game was so hectic that he and Miles, who are best friends, didn’t even manage to get a picture of themselves together.
“We’ve never been a part of a Grey Cup so we didn’t really know what to do or where to go or how to act,” said Rush. “It was kind of all just a blur after the game.”
Winning the championship in just his third season in the CFL helped Rush realize how sweet victory is.
“It’s definitely a lot better to be in an off-season with a Grey Cup than to be in an off-season without one,” Rush says. “I’ve experienced two so far and off-seasons without Grey Cups are pretty boring and pretty sad. Having the Grey Cup, it’s a lot of fun.”
Miles said his focus is already turning towards next season.
“As every day goes by it become more about, ‘How do we do it again?’” he said. “The first month or so you’re just riding a high and then every day that passes you kind of start thinking, ‘So how do we repeat that? How do we replicate this feeling?’ The answer is to go back to work and to go win it again.”