Bombers just fine for Neufeld

Article content

Flashback to Oct. 10, 2013, one of the worst days of Pat Neufeld’s football career. Or so he thought at the time.

That’s the day the Regina native was traded from his hometown Roughriders to Winnipeg.

“It was one of the harder days that I’ve experienced,” Neufeld was saying, Wednesday. “I didn’t like the Bombers. It was just part of the rivalry.”

This week, the 32-year-old offensive lineman, the 2019 Grey Cup title under his belt, signed a one-year extension to remain a member of those hated Bombers for a seventh full season.

Neufeld wouldn’t have predicted that.

“Not a chance,” he said. “I’m really glad that things happened the way they did because I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve loved being part of this organization. They’ve supported me through my injuries and times it’s been tough. There’s been moments where you could say, ‘Well, is he worth having around anymore?’ I’m really happy they stuck by me.”


Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The 2019 season was one of those times.

Neufeld missed the first dozen games with an injury, calling it one of the most difficult periods he’s ever experienced.

“Last year there were some really dark times for me, mentally,” he said. “Because I was so close to getting back on the field, and then there’d be a setback or it just wasn’t ready. I talked to family members, like, ‘This might be it.’”

He came back to play the last six regular-season games, as the Bombers, 8-2 at one point, began to fade down the stretch.

But they got back on track just before the playoffs, where they put it all together and didn’t stop until they’d ended the franchise’s 28-year Grey Cup drought.

Neufeld went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in Winnipeg’s 33-12 romp over Hamilton.

“I probably played one of my best games of my entire life,” he said. “It’s adversity, and it’s part of growth, and pushing through to that end goal.”

Testing free agency in a few weeks never even entered Neufeld’s mind, he says, even though the Bombers were offering him a pay cut, like virtually everyone else they’ve brought back.

“It’s for the greater good to make sure we can have a season,” Neufeld said. “It hurts a little financially, but it was necessary to get the roster the way we had it last year, or as close to possible, and make another run at it.”

Neufeld is confident the 2021 season will happen, despite the ongoing pandemic.

His championship ring provides a reminder every morning of what this year will be all about.

“I leave it on my bedside table so every morning I get to wake up and look at it,” he said. “And it’s a nice little reminder of what we accomplished, but more so what we had to go through to get there. It’s a pretty great memento.”

Briggs signs on

The latest member of the Grey Cup champs to sign on for another year is veteran special-teamer Jesse Briggs.

The backup linebacker returns for a seventh season to the only team he’s known since Winnipeg drafted him in the second round in 2014.

Injuries limited Briggs to four regular-season games in 2019, but he suited up for all three in the playoff run.

News Near Timmins

This Week in Flyers