Joe Poplawski was one of the finest players to ever suit up in the CFL and is fully deserving of the mantle “great”, although by his own admission he was a better soccer player than a football player when in high school.
Nevertheless, the Edmonton Eskimos made the Edmonton native a territorial exemption in 1978. Dealt to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for veteran Tom Scott, Poplawski went on to be named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie that year. In his nine-year career, he was named an All Canadian All Star five times and was a two-time winner of the Schenley Award as the League’s Most Outstanding Canadian. Playing alongside greats like James Murphy, Rick House, Perry Tuttle, and Jeff Boyd, he still managed to see the football enough to finish his career 20th on the all time list of receiving yards with a total of 8,341.
When he came to Winnipeg Poplawski made the city his home. He has settled here and with his wife Darlene has raised sons Derek, Wade and Brent. The Poplawski family is very much a part of the fabric of Winnipeg life.
Exceptionally modest for a man of his accomplishments, Poplawski is quick to credit a host of coaches who helped him become the player he was: Ray Jauch, Art Asselta, Pal Sartori and Cal Murphy all made a mark on his career.
The 1984 Winnipeg Blue Bombers were arguably one of the finest teams ever assembled. It was a star-studded lineup and Poplawski was one of those stars. Playing in his hometown of Edmonton that day was a special thrill and winning a championship at Commonwealth Stadium stands out as the highlight of his career.
He was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1998. He is also a member of the University of Alberta Sports and the Blue Bomber Halls of Fame. He calls his induction into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum “the pièce de résistance.”
Following his career, Joe Poplawski plunged full-time into the insurance business with his company, Ranger Insurance. He also worked as a colour commentator on Blue Bomber broadcasts on CJOB yet still managed to find time to contribute as a volunteer to his community, winning the prestigious Premier’s Service Award in 1991.
b. August 2,