Saskatchewan

'It just popped into my head': Roughriders fan gets team symbol painted on his prosthetic eye

A 60-year-old Saskatchewan Roughriders fan is drawing some second looks, thanks to an eye-popping tribute to the team.

Unlike Gainer the Gopher, this fan leans into the extra attention

Saskatchewan Roughriders' fan Jim Boychuk says he's worn his prosthetic eye with the team's symbol to games, drawing some mixed reaction. (Submitted by Jim Boychuk)

A 60-year-old Saskatchewan Roughriders fan is drawing some second looks, thanks to an eye-popping tribute to the team.

Jim Boychuk lost an eye more than a decade ago due to complications with diabetes. 

He replaced it with a prosthetic eye that resembles an egg shell, with eye muscles attached to an implant made of coral. 

"As the muscles move, it also moves the eye," he said, explaining the end result is convincing. 

"People tell me that all the time they would have never known if I hadn't told them." 

'It freaks people out. That's what I wanted to do,' says Jim Boychuk. (Submitted by Jim Boychuk)

That can't be said for his latest replacement.  

Boychuk, a season ticket holder for the Riders, decided to ask the person touching up the paint on the iris if he could put a Riders' emblem on it.

"It just popped into my head," he said. 

That creation, with a green "S" surrounded by white, is arguably more distinctive even than Gainer the Gopher's green eyes, which the team's mascot recently ditched after fan backlash.  

Gainer the Gopher had green eyes for a short time, before ditching them due to fans describing his new look as creepy. (Saskatchewan Roughriders/Twitter)

Unlike Gainer, Boychuk just leans into the attention.

"It freaks people out. That's what I wanted to do," he said with a laugh. 

"I try to have fun with it, instead of be worried about it or conscious of it. That's just the kind of guy I am." 

He and Gainer aren't the only ones in Roughriders history whose eyes have made headlines.

The team's famed alumnus, Neil J. "Piffles" Taylor, lost an eye during World War I. That didn't stop him from serving as quarterback for the Riders, even though he reportedly once lost the glass eye on the field during a game after a hard tackle.

Boychuk's eye joins the pantheon of Roughriders' uber-fandom, with the symbol available in typical merchandise like shirts and hats, but also beer kegs, custom drink dispensers, lingerie and more.  

with files from CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition

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