The Winnipeg Blue Bombers shocked the CFL in 2019 when the team ended a 29-year championship drought, winning three post-season games as underdogs.
An even bigger surprise came for veteran defensive tackle Jake Thomas when he was chosen to be the first player to hoist the Grey Cup after defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 at McMahon Stadium.
Thomas joined teammates Patrick Neufeld, Brandon Alexander, and Andrew Harris on Sunday to provide commentary during a stream of the 107th Grey Cup on the Blue Bombers’ Facebook page.
“We had no clue who was gonna get the (Grey) Cup and I think me and you before the game said, ‘OK, if either of us get it fairly early, make sure the other one gets it fairly early,” Thomas said to Neufeld.
“At least you got it first, man,” Neufeld responded. “That was awesome to see.”
“I thought I was on an episode of Punk’d,” said Thomas.
Thomas remains the longest-tenured player on the Blue Bombers, having joined the team as a fourth-round pick out of Acadia University in 2012. Neufeld arrived in Winnipeg one season later following a trade from his hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The players offered a number of insights about the game during the stream.
Thomas said he and veteran linebacker Adam Bighill decided to give head coach Mike O’Shea a Gatorade shower with under two minutes remaining. The Blue Bombers had a 21-point lead and their offence was on the field working to kill the clock.
“It wasn’t a great pour,” said Thomas. “I wish we could have got a little more on his head, but it was good.”
Thomas also said that he was one of the players who gave O’Shea a Gatorade shower after his first win as a CFL head coach in June 2014. That game was a 45-21 victory over the Toronto Argonauts at IG Field and the first of three consecutive wins to start O’Shea’s tenure in Winnipeg.
Watching video of the championship celebration brought back fond memories for both players.
“What a phenomenal day,” said Neufeld. “Defence, special teams, offence — just complementary football to a tee. What a day for the organization and for Bomber fans everywhere.”
“It was 29 years long overdue,” said Thomas. “I wish I would’ve won eight Grey Cups in my eight years … but I think the longer it took, the sweeter it was.”
Thomas has made 117 total tackles, 18 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one interception in 137 career games. He has enjoyed a career far beyond what anyone would have expected from a six-foot-one defensive tackle from Douglas, N.B.
“Look at that seven holding that trophy,” said Thomas while watching himself hoist the Grey Cup. “I might be an eight holding that trophy.”
“No, you’re a hard eight-five,” said Neufeld.
“Oh, yeah,” said Thomas, laughing. “I’m a New Brunswick nine.”