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TrueBlue4ever

The MBB All-time Blue Bomber Team: Returners - Final run-off vote

The MBB All-Time Blue Bomber Team: Returners (final vote)  

16 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Who are the single greatest punt and kick returners in Blue Bomber history? (choose one from each group)

    • PR - Fritz Hanson
      4
    • PR - Albert Johnson III
      3
    • PR - Keith Stokes
      8
    • PR - Charles Roberts
      1
    • KR - Leo Lewis
      5
    • KR - Albert Johnson III
      8
    • KR - Keith Stokes
      2
    • KR - Charles Roberts
      0

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  • Poll closed on 03/04/19 at 05:59 AM

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So down to the final vote. Because the dual threat returner category had a tie with Stokes and Roberts, I have included them both in the poll options. So here is how it works:

Vote for one name in each category, PR (punt returner) and KR (kick returner). The leader in each individual poll (Fritz Hanson for punt returner and Leo Lewis for kick returner) will face off against the challengers from the dual threat category, and you choose only one person for each category. So if you think that Leo Lewis was a better kick returner than anyone from the dual threat nominees, then vote for him. If you think that any one of the dual threat nominees was better SPECIFICALLY AS A KICK RETURNER, then vote for that one person. Then do the same in comparing Hanson to the same 3 dual threat nominees.

You can consider the overall body of work and ability of the dual threat nominee in making the comparison, but remember that we are trying to identify a specific skill as a punt OR kick returner. So even if you feel that the dual threat returner was more talented overall, if you believe that as a specific type of returner, they fall short of the mark, vote for another person (ex. if you think AJ3 was overall a better returner than Lewis, but that Lewis was better in the specific area of kick returns, your vote should properly go to Lewis - at least that was my intention in devising the poll). Here once again are the bios:

 

All-star recognition for returners began in 1986

Special Teams Player of the Year first awarded in 1999

Order of stats: returns-yards-average-long-TD

Fritz Hanson – 8 seasons (1935-41, 45), no stats available, but here is a bio from CFLapedia: Hanson weighed only 145 pounds, but had incredible speed and elusiveness which earned him nicknames like "The Galloping Ghost," "The Golden Ghost," "Twinkle Toes" and the "Phantom Flash." Hanson joined the Blue Bombers in 1935 and helped lead Winnipeg to the first Grey Cup by a West team, upsetting the Hamilton Tigers 18-12.  Hanson would go on to play with Winnipeg until 1941 when World War II got in the way and Hanson joined the Canadian Army.  Hanson briefly returned to play for Winnipeg again in 1945, playing in at least one exhibition game before his Army duties forced him to retire for the season.  In the 7 years from 1935 to 1941, the Bombers went to the Grey Cup 6 times, missing only once in 1936.  Besides 1935, the Bombers and Hanson won two other Grey Cups in 1939 and 1941. That first win in 1935 was the big one though and while very few stats are available from that era, Hanson had 334 yards in kick returns that game including a 78 yard punt return for a touchdown. Hanson won West All-Stars (there were no Canadian All-Stars until 1962) in five straight years from 1937 to 1941. Canada’s Male athlete of the year (1939), CFL Hall of Fame, 6 Grey Cup appearances (1935, 37-41), 3-time Grey Cup champion (1935, 39, 41)

Leo Lewis - 161 games in 12 seasons (1955-66), PR career: 3-21-7.0-12-0 (1960), KR career: 187-5443-29.1-91-1, best: 29 (1963)-854-32.8 (both 1957), led CFL in kick return yards (1957, 63, 64), led CFL in kick return average (1957, 58, 64), single season club record for kick return average (32.8 in 1957) and 3 of the top 5 single season averages in club history, #1 club all-time in career kick returns, yards, and average, 1962 Grey Cup MVP, 5-time team nominee for Most Outstanding Player (1958, 60, 61, 62, 65), CFL Hall of Fame, 6 Grey Cup appearances (1957-59, 61, 62, 65), 4-time Grey Cup champion (1958, 59, 61, 62)

Albert Johnson III - 49 games in 3 seasons (2000, 2006-07), PR career: 233-1922-8.2-59-0, best: 85-810-9.5 (all 2006), KR career: 150-3282-21.9-96-1, best: 61-1506-24.7 (all 2000), MFG career: 16-619-38.7-122-1, best: 8 (2007)-277-69.2 (both 2000), team nominee for Outstanding Special Teams Player (2006), CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player (2000), CFL Rookie of the Year (2000), 2-time divisional and CFL all-star (2000, 06), Grey Cup appearance (2007), led CFL in kick return yards in 2000, led CFL in punt return yards in 2006, #5 CFL all-time in single season kick return yards (1506 in 2000), #4 club all-time in single season punt returns (85 in 2000), #2 club all-time in career kick returns, career kick return yards, single season kick return yards and single game kick return yards (198), club record for kick returns in one game (9)

Charles Roberts - 131 games in 8 seasons (2001-08), PR career: 182-1735-9.5-75-2, best: 82-782 (both 2001)-10.8 (2002), KR career: 103-2151-20.9-50-0, best: 45-981-21.8 (all 2001), MFG career: 10-314-31.4-72-0, best: 5 (2002)-155-38.8 (both 2003), led CFL in punt return yards (2001), CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player (2001), West Division Most Outstanding Rookie (2001), divisional, CFL and CFLPA all-star (2001), 2 Grey Cup appearances (2001, 07), CFL Hall of Fame

Keith Stokes - 37 games in 3 seasons (2004-05, 07), PR career: 176-1755-10.0-83-5, best: 80-949-11.9 (all 2004)-11.0, KR career: 108-2257-20.9-108-1, best: 56-1112 (both 2004)-24.6 (2007), MFG career: 18-448-24.9-75-0, best: 9 (2004)-185-37.0 (both 2005), CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player (2004), divisional, CFL and CFLPA all-star (2004), led CFL in punt return (949) and kick return yards (1112 – both in 2004), #3 club all-time in single season punt return yards, club records for single game punt return yards (154 in 2004), single season punt return TDs (4 in 2004), and career punt return TDs (5), #4 club all-time in career punt return average, #3 club all-time in single season kick returns, 4th longest kick return in club history

Edited by TrueBlue4ever

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One man's take:

So I voted for Lewis as my kick returner and AJ3 from the dual threat category as my kick returner there, so it is down to that pair for me. AJ3 had brilliant skill in both areas of kick and punt return, but if I limit my evaluation to his kick return ability, I say he falls short of Lewis' greatness. 3 years leading the CFL in kick return yards and 3 years leading in kick return average show that he was without peer in his era more so than Johnson was in his era. A ridiculous 29.1 yard career average on returns and a high of 32.5 - those are video game numbers with the game settings on "easy", and about 10 yards higher than the current numbers you'd see from a league leader. And his longevity also factors in, he kept up this pace over a decade rather than burning out after one or two years. So not even considering his revelatory work as a running back, Lewis is my choice here.

And for punt returner, it's Hanson vs. Stokes (my choice as best punt returner from the dual threat group, nudging out Jovon Johnson who did not make this poll) for me. Bonus points to Hanson for legend status and his Hurculean effort in the Grey Cup, and always difficult to judge players across eras without stats information. Again, I see the TD return totals for Stokes, who was truly a return specialist and not just a position player thrown back there to field kicks, and I lean toward taking him. But if others want to see Fritz Hanson on this team somewhere, this may be his best shot. Again, I see AJ3 as even with Stokes as an overall returner, but focussing on punt returns alone Stokes beats him out (as would have Jovon), and I tend to edge them both ahead of Hanson for punt returns. So I will choose Stokes, but I won't argue with those who say Hanson should be the choice given his stature and the different blocking rules. Simply a personal preference fitting the limitations of this category in my mind.

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Who holds the Bomber record in this category? Isn't it Paul Bennet in punt return yardage? The guy was never fancy, he went straight forward, but got the job done.

Anyways, my vote would go to Fritz Hanson and Leo Lewis. (My personal favorite was Mack Herron -he played for the Bombers when I first started watching them. Dynamic in CFL and NFL but sadly could never exorcise his demons.).

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21 minutes ago, blueingreenland said:

Who holds the Bomber record in this category? Isn't it Paul Bennet in punt return yardage? The guy was never fancy, he went straight forward, but got the job done.

Anyways, my vote would go to Fritz Hanson and Leo Lewis. (My personal favorite was Mack Herron -he played for the Bombers when I first started watching them. Dynamic in CFL and NFL but sadly could never exorcise his demons.).

The all-time leader in punt return yeardage for a career was Jovon Johnson, with Bennett second. JJ was eliminated in the dual threat voting, and Bennett was bested by Hanson in the punt returner voting, so neither made the final vote-off. As for kick returners, Leo Lewis was the career leader by far in the kick return category. I think I will copy the bios once more to keep everything in one post for reference.

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