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Jackson Jeffcoat adds Grey Cup to family's football championship total

CALGARY—Jackson Jeffcoat has added the Grey Cup to his family’s football resumé.

The six-foot-three, 253-pound defensive end had two of the six sacks a relentless Winnipeg defence registered Sunday in the Blue Bombers’ stunning 33-12 Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium. The CFL championship is Jeffcoat’s first but the family’s third football crown as Jeffcoat’s father, Jim, played for two Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys teams during a 15-year NFL career.

“My dad always said big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games,” the junior Jeffcoat said. “This is my first one in football and so I’m looking to chase some more.”

The Grey Cup title capped Jeffcoat’s third year with Winnipeg, one that saw him register 23 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles in 12 regular-season games. After finishing third in the West during the regular season with an 11-7 record, the Bombers completed their Grey Cup march with road playoff wins over defending-champion Calgary (35-14) and Saskatchewan (20-13) before upsetting Hamilton, which had posted a CFL-best 15-3 record and won both regular-season meetings with the Bombers.

Winnipeg became the first third-place team to win the Grey Cup since the 2005 Edmonton Eskimos.

“This team has worked its butt off and believed the whole time in it,” Jeffcoat said. “I remember listening to this game driving home last year and telling myself, ‘We’re going to be here in this game this year, we’re going to win it.’”

Jeffcoat and Co. set the tone early Sunday by forcing turnovers on three of Hamilton’s first four possessions. Ticats quarterback Dane Evans was never allowed to feel comfortable, completing 16-of-27 passes for 203 yards with a TD and two interceptions while fumbling three times.

“This is the Grey Cup, this is a championship game,” Jeffcoat said. “We’re going to play championship defence, championship ball.

“You have to thank our defensive backs, too, for giving us time to rush … you give us a little bit of time, we’re going to get there. That (first-quarter turnovers) is just how this defence is, that’s how we like to play.”

Jim Jeffcoat and his wife, Tammy, both attended Sunday’s game. The ’83 first-round pick of the Cowboys was very impressed with Winnipeg’s defensive performance and equally as proud of his son’s play.

“It’s been incredible watching him mature and do the things he did today,” said Jim Jeffcoat, an assistant coach with the XFL’s Dallas Renegades. “Me and my wife are so proud of him.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling for him and it’s an unbelievable feeling for us.”

The elder Jeffcoat has been inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame, Arizona State Football Ring of Honor and Fiesta Bowl Hall of Fame. After starting his pro career with Dallas, Jeffcoat finished up with the Buffalo Bills (1995-97), registering 102.5 career sacks.

The wide-open Canadian game, played on the longer, wider field, is much different than the one Jeffcoat played south of the border. But he’s definitely become a fan of the CFL.

“I love it, I love to watch it,” he said. “It’s very exciting, it’s fast-paced and it’s for pass rushers.

“It’s friendly for pass rushers, which is what he is.”

Jackson Jeffcoat says his parents have been terrific role models for him.

“I’ve been able to watch him play, watch him work and just see the time and effort he’s put into the game,” he said. “It’s been incredible to see someone like that and see what he does and to add certain things I’ve seen him do to my game.

“He and my mother have always had great advice when things might not have been going my way but to stay positive and keep working.”

Winnipeg’s staunch defence was supported admirably by the CFL’s top-ranked ground attack (147.9 yards per game during the regular season). The Bombers ran for 186 yards on 28 carries (6.6-yard average) against Hamilton, with Winnipeg native Andrew Harris, the league’s rushing leader (1,380 yards this season), running for 134 yards and a TD on 18 carries while registering five receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown.

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That performance was sweet redemption for Harris, who was bypassed for CFL individual honours after being suspended for two games following a positive drug test. That only served to deepen the chip that had already been on Harris’s muscular shoulders.

“But he didn’t change his game,” Jeffcoat said. “He’s going to come out and play hard and that’s exactly what he did.

“He’s a beast.”

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