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Former Bombers reflect on Grey Cup defeats
WINNIPEG – The 107th Grey Cup Championship is fast approaching, and with it another opportunity for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to end a nearly 30-year-old Grey Cup drought.
For some former Bombers players, they know as well as anyone the not-so-rosy recent history of Winnipeg in the championship game.
It was the 2011 Grey Cup Championship in Vancouver. Bombers took a 34-23 defeat at the hands of Andrew Harris and the B.C. Lions, extending Winnipeg’s drought.
It’s a loss that former offensive lineman, and founder and CEO of Shawarma Khan, Ibrahim ‘Obby’ Khan, remembers all too well.
“I remember the crowd being super, super loud, and I remember I had one job of stopping Khalif Mitchel in the middle, this giant 320-pound monster,” Khan told CTV News. “I think I did my job, so the only way I can sleep at night knowing we lost that Grey Cup is that I think I did my job, and that's all you can do in a team sport.”
Khan was a member of three Grey Cup finalist teams – two times with the Bombers, and one with the Calgary Stampeders.
“That's three Grey Cups I lost – yeah thanks for bringing that up. I got three silver medals in the Grey Cup, not a lot of people can say that.”
Khan is a former teammate of Troy Westwood, a member the 1992, 1993, 2001, and 2007 teams that came up short.
Westwood said the most profound moment for him as a person and an athlete was in 2001.
“We were such favourites in that game, and then right across the board we just struggled, and for me I had all kinds of struggle,” Westwood said. “The lessons learned and the impact on my life in a general sense as far as rising back, and coming back from that as an athlete and all that sort of thing, they were profound lessons learned."
Both these players know what this game means to the team, the players, and the championship-starved Bombers fans.
"Bombers nation – 365, 24/7 – operates one degree below boiling. Just because that's the intensity, the necessity of going to capture the cup, and hopefully the boys on Sunday can pull it off,” Westwood said.
For Khan, he said he’s been to the Grey Cup three times – and he’s lost it three times.
"Being there is great for the fan base and the city – they love it,” Khan said. “Being there is fantastic, but being there as a player means nothing. Being there doesn't really mean anything – you've got to win it.”
-with files from CTV's Danton Unger