Lucky Whitehead believes he’s faster than all of Winnipeg’s defensive backs

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions


That is what Lucky Whitehead told the media on Wednesday when he was asked if any of Winnipeg’s defensive backs were as fast as him. The gregarious receiver gave the answer with his signature smile, which seems appropriate given that he currently leads the CFL with 665 receiving yards and has scored five touchdowns.

Friday’s game at BC Place Stadium will be the first opportunity for Whitehead to play against the team with whom he won a Grey Cup in 2019.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be emotional. I know a lot of the guys that are still over there on the defensive side, the offensive side. It’s going to be exciting. I just can’t wait to get out there,” said Whitehead.

Whitehead indicated that Winnipeg making a minimal effort to re-sign him when his contract expired in February 2021 served as a source of motivation to improve throughout the off-season. Defensive back Nick Taylor worked out with Whitehead in Miami over the winter and noticed that the receiver had “gotten way better” since his time with Winnipeg.

“Mentally and physically I’m in a better place,” said Whitehead. “Being off the field, not being able to play, it was tough. When I came into camp, what I wanted to show was that I could do more than gadget things. I wasn’t just a returner.”

The 29-year-old indicated that a 45-minute telephone conversation with Michael Reilly sold him on signing with the Lions as a free agent. Given how he’s established himself as the CFL’s best deep threat in just seven games in B.C., it seems to have been a perfect fit for both sides.

“It’s been fun just to be able to showcase everything that I’ve been working in the off-season. It’s been exciting. It’s been amazing since I’ve been here. I picked up the offence pretty fast with the help of [Michael Reilly] and [Bryan] Burnham, Shaq [Johnson]. They’ve all been helping me. It’s been good,” said Whitehead.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-1) and B.C. Lions (4-3) kickoff at 10:00 p.m. ET on Friday night for their first of two meetings this season.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.