Saskatchewan kid Patrick Neufeld recalls 2013 trade that cost him ‘storybook’ home Grey Cup with Riders

Photo: Nik Kowalski/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Regina-raised and Saskatoon-trained, Patrick Neufeld is Saskatchewan to his core.

Unfortunately, the hulking offensive lineman will never forget being cruelly denied the chance to live out every Saskatchewan kid’s dream.

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 CFL Draft by his hometown team, Neufeld was in his third season with the Roughriders when he was bitten by the injury bug. Rather than stick with the local kid, general manager Brendan Taman swung a deal in an attempt to put his team over the top.

In October 2013, Neufeld was shipped to the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for the league leader in sacks Alex Hall and a second-round selection. Roughly two months later, Neufeld had to watch from afar as his old team won the Grey Cup at home in the city where he grew up.

“I made a lot of really great relationships with the guys on that team, some of my best friends. One of them, Dan Clark, is still there, but it was hard, for sure,” Neufeld recalled in an interview on The SportsCage in Regina.

“I think just growing up being a Rider fan and going to all the games as a kid, it would kind of be that storybook-ending playing in that Grey Cup. It’s a business and that was a business decision that the team made. They went on to win the Grey Cup and ultimately I was happy for all my buddies on the team.”

A long list of Saskatchewan-born Riders got a chance to live out their childhood fantasy that season, including Clark, Ben Heenan, Brendon LaBatte, Chris Getzlaf, Neal Hughes, Scott McHenry, Zack Evans, Levi Steinhauer, and Paul Woldu. Neufeld will never get to be one of them, but he ultimately got the last laugh.

Hall mustered just a single sack the remainder of the season in Saskatchewan, but Neufeld remains a key piece of the Bombers’ offensive line nine seasons later. While the early years were lean and injuries plagued him, the 33-year-old is coming off his first CFL all-star selection and back-to-back Grey Cup victories.

His first career championship in 2019 may not have been the win-at-home fantasy, but it was monumental nonetheless.

“2019 was pretty magical for us,” Neufeld said. “Being a part of the Blue Bombers organization, we hadn’t won in such a long time — it was 29 years. Getting that monkey off our back was huge.”

As an added twist of the knife, Neufeld was one of eight players cast aside by the Riders on this year’s title winner. Both of Neufeld’s Grey Cup victories were earned after Winnipeg rolled through his old team in the West Final, including a 2019 game in Mosaic Stadium during which an unfortunate Cody Fajardo deflection off the field goal post cost the Riders the game.

“I’ve seen some crazy things happen with that goal post and we were pretty lucky that it was there for us at that point in the game,” Neufeld laughed.

Riders fans have found their subservience to the hated Bombers somewhat less amusing and things are only going to get more heated in 2022. With Regina set to host the 109th Grey Cup, the Roughriders are gearing up for a chance to recreate the 2013 magic. Meanwhile, Neufeld hopes he can live out a dream his childhood self would have shuddered to imagine: three-peat at home in rival colours.