Legendary CFL player Ken Ploen dead at 88

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Canadian Football League has lost an all-time great as Ken Ploen has passed away at the age of 88.​

“​Growing up in Winnipeg, and playing minor football, I heard a lot about Kenny and those championship Bomber teams, as we young players were encouraged to meet the standard they set,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement.

“​Saddened by news today of his passing, at age 88, we will be forever grateful for Kenny Ploen’s many contributions to our league, from the excitement he created in his era, to the inspiration he provided to the generations that followed it.”

The native of Lost Nation, Iowa played 11 seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1957 to 1967, helping the team win four Grey Cups in six appearances. He was a three-time West Division all-star and one-time CFL all-star.

“Ken Ploen was the face of the Blue Bombers for years and then became a part of the fabric of this community following his playing days,” said club president and CEO Wade Miller. “He was a four-time Grey Cup champion as a player and a great ambassador for our franchise and our city.”

“The WFC would like to extend our deepest condolences to the Ploen family and to his many friends and family in Winnipeg as well as across Canada and the United States.”

The six-foot-three, 200-pound passer signed with Winnipeg following a standout collegiate career at the University of Iowa and remained in the city after he retired from the CFL, often attending Blue Bombers games.

“Ploen was one of the key players during the Bombers dynasty in the late 50s and early 60s, revered for his play on the field and for his kindness and generosity off the field,” wrote Bob Irving, the longtime voice of the team, on social media.

Ploen was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975, the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 1987, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997, the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, and received the Order of Manitoba in 2007. The access road near Princess Auto Stadium is named after him and he was the second inductee for the Ring of Honour at the venue in 2016.