Former Blue Bombers quarterback Khari Jones had death threats made against him while playing in Winnipeg because of his interracial marriage.
His wife Justine is white while Jones is black and the pair lived in the Manitoba capital while he played for the Bombers from 2000 to 2004.
“I received death threats because my wife is a different colour than me. They didn’t like the colour of my skin and that’s a brutal thing. We had police offers staying at our house, patrolling while I was at away games,” Jones said.
“It’s just a reminder that things aren’t always great. It could’ve been just one person, but one is still too many. To do that on the basis of a person’s skin colour is horrible. It just hurt a lot. And there’s worry for your family.”
Jones won the starting QB job in the middle of his first season in Winnipeg. In 2001, the five-foot-11, 195-pound passer led Winnipeg to a 14-4 record, which included a 12-game win streak, and first place in the East Division. However, the Bombers were upset in the Grey Cup by the Calgary Stampeders 27-19. One fan made it personal with Jones.
“There were a series of letters and I still have those letters. Every once in a while, every blue moon I take a look at them,” Jones said.
“They never found the person who wrote the letters — he used a fake name — but he’s still out there, people like him are still out there. That was 20-something years ago and it’s still happening.”
It was still a breakout season for Jones. He completed over 60 percent of his passes for 4,545 yards with 30 touchdowns against 23 interceptions and ran the ball 60 times for 340 yards and two majors. Those totals combined with Winnipeg’s league-best 14 regular season victories earned Jones the Most Outstanding Player Award.
After being put back in the West Division for the 2002 season, Jones had the best individual year of his career. He passed for 5,334 yards with 46 touchdowns compared to 29 interceptions. Winnipeg finished 12-6 second place in the West Division, however, the Bombers lost a tight 33-30 West Final to Edmonton.
That’s as close as Jones ever got to getting back to a CFL championship game as a player. He had the most productive seasons of his career in Winnipeg and retired as Bombers in 2007. Jones threw for 18,037 yards and 132 touchdowns during 72 regular season games in Winnipeg.