By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
A 23-year professional football career that extends into your late 40s sounds grueling. But for Bob Cameron, just getting there was the hardest part.
Before he was punting balls down field for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Cameron was an all-star quarterback and punter at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. His career with the Axemen started in 1974 and he led them to their first Vanier Cup appearance in 1976.
After that season, Cameron was drafted 24th overall by Edmonton in the 1977 CFL Draft, but ultimately fell short of a job after attending training camp as a defensive back.
Since CFL teams could only carry 32 players on their roster, punters usually had to play a second position and Edmonton already had a full roster.
The Calgary Stampeders gave Cameron a tryout shortly after as a defensive back as well, but since he hadn’t played the position since high school, he again fell short of a job.
That fall, he made the decision to head back to school and play for the Axemen.
Cameron went back to play QB and punt for Acadia in the fall of 1977 and dominated. He again led the Axemen to a Vanier Cup appearance and won the Hec Crighton Award as the most outstanding Canadian football player in U sports.
His stellar play got him into the Can-Am Bowl game in Tampa, Florida, where he competed against the best American collegiate players.
His university career and performance at two Can-Am Bowls earned him numerous professional tryouts, but no team gave him a real shot.
By 1979, Cameron had been cut by the Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders, Ottawa Rough Riders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Buffalo Bills, and Philadelphia Eagles.
After not being able to find a solid career playing football, Cameron worked in Alberta. It was on a long drive home from work that his career would change forever.
“I heard on the radio that Winnipeg had lost their punter,” said Cameron. “I called a coach of the Bombers and was on a flight to Winnipeg shortly after.”
Cameron, who was cut by the Bombers a year prior, was back with the club in 1980 and finally was given a chance to prove himself…and prove himself he did!
Cameron cemented himself in the Bombers lineup from 1980-2002, being named a Division All-Star six times and a Canadian All-Star four times.
The 1988 season was the most memorable of his 23-year career. He set records for most regular season punts with 188, and most punting yards with 8,214.
He was named Manitoba’s Male Athlete of the Year and capped the season off by helping the Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup where he won the Dick Suderman Award as the outstanding Canadian in the game.
Cameron played in a total of six Grey Cup games with the Bombers, winning in 1984, 1988 and 1990. He was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.