CFL pays homage to historic 'Mud Bowl'
As the Canadian Football League celebrates the 100th Grey Cup contest in Toronto this week, some unlikely players are hitting the gridiron to recreate a muddy blast from the past.
Local celebrities and media personalities will be squaring off against staff and student alumni on a muddied field Monday, at the Scarborough Academy for Technological, Environmental and Computer Education, the east-end school commonly known as Porter.
Chris Rudge, who is CEO of both the Toronto Argonauts and the 100th Grey Cup Festival, said the event is a chance to give back to the community, as well as pay homage to the iconic moment that was written into the CFL history books on Nov. 25, 1950.
That was when the Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers contested the 38th Grey Cup in front of more than 27,000 fans huddled together at Toronto's Varsity Stadium.
The game was a blowout, with the Argos handily winning their 8th Grey Cup 13-0, but the deplorable conditions of the field itself made the match memorable.
On the eve of the game, the downtown field had been covered in snow. But on game day, when the snow turned to rain, a plan to bulldoze the field went ahead anyway.
The result was a muddy, rutted mess of a field, and a game that was quickly dubbed the "Mud Bowl."
Sixty-two years later, game MVP Nick Volpe looks back on the day fondly. After all, there's a lot to remember about what he managed to achieve on the field.
From place-kicking to punt returning, backing up the quarterback to playing defensive halfback, Volpe was a force to reckon with as he scored two field goals in the second quarter.
The Argos held onto their advantage, cementing the win with the game's only touchdown in the next quarter. The Blue Bombers were held scoreless, a feat that has never been matched in a Grey Cup final.
Volpe told CTV's Canada AM that players could barely run in the bog that day, and anyone lucky enough to handle the slippery ball had a hard time keeping it.
"It was so sloppy, as you know," the six-time Grey Cup ring recipient said from the field at Porter early Monday. "We couldn't hang onto the ball."
But Volpe's held onto it ever since, however, as the game ball continues to enjoy pride of place in his living room.
"It's pretty precious to me," he explained, laughing.
Volpe will be on hand throughout the day for the celebrations that include two 25-minute flag football games, in addition to drills and clinics on the sidelines.
A marching band, the Porter Dance Team and the Argos Cheerleaders will be on hand as well.
Porter has been promised a refurbished and revitalized field -- complete with new sod and bleachers -- in the spring, courtesy of the CFL.