It's always sad when former CFL players pass away young, and it seems to happen far too often. The latest case is former Toronto Argonauts, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive lineman Doug MacIver, who died early Thursday morning at the age of 58. MacIver, who played CIS football with the University of Manitoba Bisons, went on to spend nine years in the CFL and was a crucial part of the Blue Bombers' Grey Cup team in 1984.
MacIver was drafted by Winnipeg in 1975, but started his CFL career with Toronto in 1976. He spent three years with the Argonauts, then signed with the Roughriders in 1979. MacIver played with them through 1981 and then was traded to Winnipeg for former CFL star running back Jimmy Edwards, who won the league's Most Outstanding Player award in 1977, but had just returned after a stint in the NFL. The Bombers got the better of that trade, as Edwards only played for Saskatchewan in 1982, while MacIver would spend three years in Winnipeg and help them hoist the 1984 Grey Cup.
That 1984 season was a bit of an unusual ride for the Bombers. They were coming off a 9-7 campaign in 1983, but one that saw them make it all the way to the West Final before losing to the B.C. Lions. The Bombers went 3-1 in preseason action in 1984, but then lost their season opener 24-17 to Calgary. They promptly reeled off seven straight victories, though, and finished the season 11-4-1, second in the West (behind only 12-3-1 B.C.). Winnipeg then thumped the Eskimos 55-20 in the West semifinal and beat B.C. 31-14 in the West final, advancing to the Grey Cup in Edmonton. They started off slowly against Hamilton and trailed 14-3 after the first quarter, but rattled off 27 points in the second quarter and only allowed three points by the Tiger-Cats the rest of the way, eventually cruising to a 47-17 win. It was the team's first Grey Cup victory since 1962 and their first appearance in the title game since 1965.
The 1984 Bombers are generally remembered more for their incredible offence, as they put up a league-high 523 points (32.7 points per game) behind the arm of famed quarterback Tom Clements. Their defence was certainly impressive in its own right, though, and they only conceded 309 points during the season (19.3 per game), second-best in the league behind the Lions. That defence was particularly impressive in the playoffs, allowing just an average of 17 points per game, and MacIver was an important part of that unit. He retired after that year, going out on top. With his passing, the CFL has lost another one of its notable alumni all too young.