Former CFL player, executive Lyle Bauer dead at age 65

WINNIPEG — Lyle Bauer, a former CFL player and executive, has died. He was 65.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team Bauer played for and later served as CEO, announced Bauer's death on its Instagram page Wednesday.

Bauer, a Saskatoon native, played his entire 10-year CFL career as an offensive with the Blue Bombers (1982-91). He was named the team's top offensive lineman in 1988 and won three Grey Cups with the Blue Bombers (1984, 1988, 1990).

Bauer, who played collegiately at Weber State in Utah, was inducted into the Blue Bombers Hall of Fame in 1998.

After retiring as a player, Bauer became Winnipeg's assistant GM in 1992, a position he held for three seasons. He returned five years later in 2000 as team president/CEO with the franchise struggling financially.

Bauer helped the community-owned club regain its footing, on and off the field. During his front-office tenure, the Bombers reached the Grey Cup four times (1992-93, 2001, 2007).

Bauer helped create the Never Alone Foundation in 2004 after being diagnosed with throat cancer. The foundation assists cancer patients and their families in their battle with the disease.

"Lyle Bauer played a significant role for the Blue Bombers during his time with the club as a player, assistant general manager and team president," Bombers president/CEO Wade Miller said in a statement. "He helped guide the team through some difficult challenges at the turn of the millennium and was a key component in the franchise’s rebirth in the early 2000s.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, his friends across the Canadian Football League and those he helped through the Never Alone Foundation."

Bauer resigned from the Bombers on Dec. 17, 2009. In January 2010, the Calgary Stampeders announced the hiring of Bauer as their CEO and president.

Bauer remained with the Stampeders until January 2013.

John Hufnagel, Calgary's special adviser, was a teammate of Bauer's in Winnipeg and served as the Stampeders GM and head coach while Bauer was the franchise's president.

“I greatly enjoyed working with Lyle, both as a teammate and in management,” Hufnagel said in a statement. "He was excellent in both roles and he was a great friend.

"On behalf of the Stampeders organization, I offer condolences to Lyle’s wife Heidi and their children as well as to all other members of his family and his many friends."

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie called Bauer a "warrior."

"He grappled with opponents as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber o-lineman and fought for the franchise’s future as its president and CEO," Ambrosie posted on X platform, formerly known as Twitter. "He worked in a similar role with the Calgary Stampeders and mounted his most courageous battle against cancer, as founder of the Never Alone Foundation.

"He was a deeply passionate man, who loved his community, his team, and, most of all, his family and friends, including many in the CFL. May he rest in peace."

Leo Ezerins, executive director of the CFL Alumni Association, said Bauer was an important figure to the organization.

"He made the connections for us to the CFL league office in support of starting the CFLAA," Ezerins said in a statement. "Over the years, through a partnership with the Never Alone Foundation, we worked together to raise awareness and funds for each of our organizations, which supported the CFLAA Support Fund.

"His absence will be deeply felt by all of us."

The Never Alone Cancer Foundation echoed Ezerins' sentiments.

"Lyle Bauer's life was one of remarkable achievement and success," the organization said in a statement. "Known not only for his illustrious football career but also for his profound dedication to founding the Never Alone Cancer Foundation.

"While his loss is deeply felt, Lyle’s memory will endure through the countless lives he touched and his unwavering commitment to community service."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2024.

The Canadian Press