Remembering Richard Harris

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July 29, 2011

By Bill Boehlke

Harris250_0729Richard Harris, a defensive end for the Seahawks from 1976-77 and the longtime defensive line coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, has died. He was 63.

Harris suffered a heart attack inside the team complex at Polo Park after the club moved indoors from practice. An ambulance arrived at Canad Inns Stadium shortly after he collapsed, and he was taken to the hospital.

He is survived by his wife Tami; their four children, Kimberly, Chianti, Jennifer, Michael; and three grandchildren, Chandler, Keegan-Michael, and Aurora.

A first-round draft pick (5th overall) in 1971 of the Philadelphia Eagles, Harris played three seasons with them (1971-73) before joining the Chicago Bears for two years (1974-75). He wrapped up his career with the Seahawks in 1977.

“This has struck our entire organization from the top down,” said Bomber president Jim Bell. “We are all in a state of shock, and first and foremost would like to express our deepest sympathies to his family. The Winnipeg Football Club has lost not only a great coach, but an even better man.”

Harris was a popular figure around the organization and in the city. A large man with a famous deep and booming voice – “Good Morning Big Blue!” – the always friendly Harris would often engage fans at practice and inquire about their well being.

“He made every player that walked into our locker room feel welcomed,” said former Winnipeg player Ryan Donnelly. “He made our team more than a team, he made it a family. I’ve played for a lot of coaches that I respected and admired, but Richard Harris will forever be at the top of that list.”

Funeral services will be on Sunday, August 7th at 2:00 pm at the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, 955 Wilkes Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba.