Legendary voice of the Bombers, Bob Irving, retiring after this season

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Irving is retiring as the voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after 47 years on the job.

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Irving, 71, will call his last game on CJOB on Dec. 5, when the Bombers host the CFL West Final at IG Field.

The Bombers have announced they will dedicate the game to Irving and will honour him in a ceremony before the kickoff.

“Without question the greatest sports broadcaster I’ve had the pleasure to know,” former Winnipeg sports anchor Joe Pascucci said on Twitter.

Irving, originally from Regina, started working at CJOB in 1973 and took over as voice of the Bombers in 1974.

He has been the iconic voice of the team for generations of fans, as synonymous with Blue Bombers football as Chris Walby, Doug Brown, Cal Murphy and all the other greats who played or coached during his tenure.

“Bob Irving has been synonymous with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for parts of six decades,” Bombers CEO Wade Miller said. “Bob has made a lasting mark with his contribution to the organization. He has been a tireless supporter of the Blue Bombers and a passionate advocate for Manitoba and the Canadian Football League. We’re fortunate to have been able to listen to Bob for as long as we have and wish him the best in an incredibly well-deserved retirement.”

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The news of Irving’s retirement resonated across the country on Tuesday. He’s well-known in every city that has a CFL team and is revered in the sports broadcasting community. He’s a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and received the Order of Manitoba.

“I’ve always loved the way Bob commands the game,” said Derek Taylor, who is the voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“His genius is that he does it without overwhelming us with volume or bombast. Just a man who loves football, and made us love it (and him) along the way. And then to have found that he’s an even better person, makes me twice grateful to know him.”

Irving told the Sun last winter that this would be his last season on the job and he has stuck to that word.

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“You don’t want to quit too soon,” he said. “Because when you retire, then it’s over. You can’t go back. You maybe think you can, but you can’t. Especially when you get to my age.

“When you get to my age, you only get so many years left. And what do you want to be doing with those years?”

When the 2020 CFL season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Irving had a summer off with his family for the first time in almost 50 years.

“It opened my eyes to the fact that there is life after this and I’ll be able to carry on just fine,” Irving said. “Although I know I’ll miss it. I’ll miss it. Because it’s been part of me for almost 50 years.”

Irving, nicknamed “Knuckles” because of his fear of flying, will still be on the air for two more regular-season games — this Saturday afternoon when the Bombers play in Montreal and on Nov. 20, when the Bombers play in Calgary.

Winnipeg has an 11-1 record and has clinched first place in the West Division.

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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