Indigenous has the seal of approval these days when it comes to describing Canadians whose ancestors were here before the white man arrived from across the sea. In polite company, no one has called them Indians for quite a few years, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are very much ‘with the program’ in 2017.
The late Jack Jacobs is being remembered on the Ring of Honour at Investors Group Field, and all I can say is, What took you so long? Perhaps it’s because Jacobs’ name did not appear on the Bombers’ old stadium, even though it was known for quite a while as ‘The House That Jack Built’.
Jack Jacobs died in 1974, and in the early 1950’s he redefined the passing game in Canadian football. He created huge excitement, and a tremendous demand for tickets, although he never got his name on the Grey Cup.
It’s most interesting that not one of the stories about Jacobs joining the Ring of Honour refers to him by the name he was known by in his hey day. Even Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, remembers him fondly as Indian Jack Jacobs.
The late Jack Wells, who was once given a black eye by Jacobs when they had a disagreement on a train, referred to him regularly as ‘The Chief’ when he called Bomber games on the radio.
What a different time it was. In the early 50’s the Blue Bombers were coached by a genuine character named George Trafton. He battled with his star quarterback all the time, and more than once he benched him, even though it hurt Winnipeg’s chances. One day Trafton was even quoted as saying “I’ve got that big Indian right where I want him”.
Jack Jacobs was one of the few ‘Indigenous’ men to star on a football field in Canada, and we should remember all his history, as ‘incorrect’ as it might be.
I’m Roger Currie