Mike O’Shea already has a bust in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and may one day have a statue in Winnipeg, but his latest honour hits a little closer to home.
The City of North Bay, Ontario, where O’Shea grew up, will be dedicating the football field at Steve Omischl Sports Field Complex on Lakeshore Drive in honour of the Blue Bombers’ head coach on Saturday at 2 p.m. local time. The hometown hero will be on-hand signing autographs, as the Bombers play Thursday night against the Montreal Alouettes.
O’Shea first picked up the sport of football at Widdifield Secondary School in North Bay, going on to an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Guelph. He was drafted by Edmonton with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 CFL Draft and promptly traded to Hamilton as part of a package for Hall of Fame quarterback Damon Allen, beginning a 16-year pro career with the Tiger-Cats.
The hard-hitting linebacker was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie that season and earned two all-star nods before briefly departing for the NFL with the Detroit Lions. He returned to the league with the Toronto Argonauts mid-way through the 1996 season and would go on to win Most Outstanding Canadian in 1999.
O’Shea briefly jumped back to the Ticats in 2000, before returning to the Argos until his retirement in 2008. He finished his career with 1,320 tackles, including 1,151 on defence — the most ever by a Canadian — adding 30 sacks and 22 interceptions.
The pride of North Bay was a crucial part of three Grey Cup victories as an Argonaut and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame for his playing accomplishments in 2017. However, his coaching acumen has proven to be even better.
O’Shea spent three seasons as special teams coordinator with the Argonauts, helping the team to another championship in 2012, before being hired as the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2013. Despite a tumultuous start to his tenure, he has posted a 76-55 record at the helm and turned the franchise into the league’s dominant powerhouse.
The Bombers won their first Grey Cup in 29 years under O’Shea’s guidance in 2019 and repeated the feat in 2021. The back-to-back champions are currently 9-0 this season as they pursue a rare three-peat.