CALGARY — If there were any debate as to whether Chris Matthews still cherishes his time spent in Winnipeg as a member of the Blue Bombers, he made it clear Saturday while donning a Calgary Stampeders jersey.

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This article was published 17/11/2018 (1287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

CALGARY — If there were any debate as to whether Chris Matthews still cherishes his time spent in Winnipeg as a member of the Blue Bombers, he made it clear Saturday while donning a Calgary Stampeders jersey.

Matthews — a 6-5, 228-pound receiver — signed with the Stampeders in early October, after an up-and-down four years in the NFL. Once opportunity dried up down south, he turned to the league where he was able to make a name for himself.

When asked if he thought a return to the Canadian game would have naturally meant a reunion with the Bombers, the 29-year-old native of Long Beach, Calif., paused.

"Did I? I don’t know. I wasn’t really thinking about it, honestly," Matthews said shortly after the Stampeders’ walkthrough at McMahon Stadium, ahead of today’s West Division final against the Bombers. "This was like the last call for me when I came up here, so it was more of like where can I go, where can I fit in the best? I didn’t want to just go back to Winnipeg just because it was home."

Matthews is only under contract with the Stampeders for this season, making a potential return to Winnipeg in 2019 an intriguing possibility.

What might also entice Matthews to go back to his CFL roots is the respect and familiarity he has with Bombers offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice. After all, it was LaPolice, who was Winnipeg’s head coach at the time, who recognized Matthews as a special talent. It wasn’t long after that he became one of the league’s brightest young stars.

"Paul LaPolice believed in me. I remember training camp when I was going out there and they didn’t think I was going to make it because there was another guy that came in there," Matthews said. "He was actually ballin’ right off the bat, and one thing led to another. I started making plays, and Paul LaPolice was like, ‘We going to get you the ball’ and it was history from there."

In his first season with the Bombers in 2012, Matthews was named the CFL’s most outstanding rookie — a campaign that included 81 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven TDs. A serious toe injury the next year limited him to just four games the following year, but Matthews had already put enough on film to pursue another shot at the NFL.

Matthews would eventually land with the Seattle Seahawks, who signed him in 2014. He spent a majority of the season on the practice roster and, in the three regular-season games he did play, he was limited to mostly special teams. Matthews would also spend time with the Baltimore Ravens.

Matthews likes his chances against the Bombers today. He has 12 receptions for 251 yards and one touchdown. He admitted it’s been an adjustment, getting used to the CFL game after having not played in Canada for years.

Brought in to help a depleted receiving corps, which saw four starters going down with serious injuries, in just more than a month he’s been able to earn the respect of head coach Dave Dickenson and his teammates.

"He’s basically made a big play every game," Dickenson said.

The Blue Bombers play the Calgary Stampeders Sunday in the western final.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca
Twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.