Blue Bombers bring the Grey Cup back to Winnipeg — and break it
CFL champions arrived at Winnipeg airport around 3 p.m. Monday
The Grey Cup is here. It's broken, but it's back home.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers brought the Grey Cup back — albeit in two pieces — to Winnipeg on Monday afternoon for the first time in 29 years.
Hundreds of Winnipeggers erupted in cheers around the hug rug at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport as the latest hometown heroes arrived. The energy inside the airport intensified as the team hoisted the Grey Cup.
"We're just a gritty team. And Winnipeg is kind of a gritty city," quarterback Chris Streveler said.
A busted trophy could be seen getting handed from defensive lineman Willie Jefferson to linebacker Adam Bighill on a stage set up near the base of the luggage carousel.
The cup appeared to be separated from its base while the teammates struggled to keep it together in front of a roaring crowd. Cow bells, whistles and all-out screams emanated from the horde of blue and gold-clad fans.
Watch the Bombers carrying the Grey Cup — in two pieces:
"It's a little broken," someone shouts over all the racket as running back Andrew Harris motioned to lift part of the damaged crown jewel above his head.
The crowd started shouting "MVP! MVP! MVP!" while Harris held the trophy high.
Harris became the first player to be named both the most outstanding player in the Grey Cup as well as the most outstanding Canadian. Hamilton-born Russ Jackson was named MVP in 1969, but the most valuable Canadian honour wasn't created until 1971.
He played a pivotal role in helping the Bombers end their Grey Cup drought with a huge 33-12 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Sunday night's CFL final at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
Thousands of football fans swarmed Winnipeg's famous Portage and Main intersection on Sunday night to celebrate a championship that was almost three decades in the making.
The team flew back from Calgary on Monday and landed in Winnipeg shortly before 3 p.m.
Bomber fans cheering at the airport on Monday afternoon echoed Sunday night's triumphant chants of "O'Shea, O'Shea, O'Shea," praising the team's head coach Mike O'Shea to the tune of "Olé, Olé, Olé."
"Thank you very much for being here. I'll tell you what, it means a lot to the players," O'Shea told the home crowd.
"This cup's for you guys," he said.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, who sounded like he lost his voice at Sunday's game in Calgary, said it was heartwarming to bring a historic win like this home amid record-breaking levels of violence in the city.
"They played with grit and passion, just like Winnipeggers do," Bowman said.
The jubilant home fans proved the mayor's point, embracing the Grey Cup's return to the Prairie city for the first time since 1990.
"My heart thumped and my stomach dropped," Bomber fan Nicole Bergen said.
Bergen said the plane she was travelling on landed around 12:45 p.m. She stuck around the airport to revel in the victory.
"This is absolutely the best moment I've had in this city," she said.
"It feels like I've been through just as much as they have."
Watch Blue Bombers thank their ecstatic fans:
Winnipeg's newly crowned Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers were scarcely 12 hours removed from securing the Canadian Football League's trophy when team president Wade Miller said they'll parade the shiny hardware around the city's downtown streets on Tuesday.
"For our fans, it's been a long time coming. They've always been behind us and it's time to celebrate," Miller said Monday.
It's not the first time Lord Earl Grey's Cup has been separated from its base during a boisterous celebration. In 2014, it split in the hands of the Calgary Stampeders after they beat Hamilton, and in 2006 did the same for victorious B.C. Lions.
With files from Marjorie Dowhos, Ahmar Khan, Darren Bernhardt and Bartley Kives