Montreal Alouettes

Bruno Heppell - Fullback - 1997-04 - Western Michigan


Heppell retires - Canadian Press - 03-03-2003

A tearful Bruno Heppell waved goodbye to an eight-year CFL career Thursday when the Montreal Alouettes fullback announced his retirement. After an eight-year career with the Alouettes, Heppell, 33, has decided to hang up his cleats, still coping with a hamstring injury that he suffered last Sept. 25 in a game against the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg.


Drafted 21st overall by Montreal in the 1997 CFL College Draft, he helped the Alouettes to a 2002 Grey Cup victory.

Heppell began his career with Montreal as a special teams leader and was promoted to starting fullback when Michael Soles retired in 2000.

He ran the ball 14 times for 45 yards and one touchdown in four games last season.

For his career, Heppell rushed for 485 yards on 132 carries and 11 TDs.

''I have always considered Bruno as one of my most reliable warriors,'' Alouettes coach Don Matthews said. ''He put it all out on the field and gave everything he had. We will miss him in the locker room and on the turf."

"At this point in my career, and keeping in mind my actual physical condition, I judged it was time for me to retire," said Bruno Heppell. "I am very satisfied with the career I have had with the Alouettes and I will always be proud to be associated with this organization."


Heppell would have been unable to start training camp due to a lingering hamstring injury, the latest of a list of ailments that hampered his career.

"You have to read the signals from your body," said the burly native of nearby Chateauguay, Que. "I didn't feel confident that I could play the whole season.

"It's not just the hamstring. I have a chronic Achilles tendon problem. I had two knee surgeries. I've had seven surgeries altogether. When you're 33 and you've had seven surgeries, you don't feel as powerful as when you're 25."

Heppell said he waited until the Alouettes signed a replacement, former Ottawa Renegade Mike Vilimek, before deciding to retire.

General manager Jim Popp said he left the door open for Heppell to return when he recovers, but the five-foot-10, 227-pound back said chances were almost nil.

Heppell averaged only a few carries per game, but was dangerous on short passing plays. Mostly, he was used for blocking, particularly when he was lead block for CFL all-time rushing leader Mike Pringle a few years ago.

"He brought an another dimension to our running game," said quarterback Anthony Calvillo, one of about a dozen Alouettes to attend the announcement at the Bell Centre. "He was like an extra offensive lineman.

"Watching him announce his retirement, I thought of myself. I've played sports my whole life and then you see a guy like Bruno come to the end of playing, it's very tough and emotional."

Team president Larry Smith called Heppell "an outstanding team player who always understood his role."


-- statistics --



Bruno Heppell Western Michigan
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1997 Mtl 0 0 0.0 0 0
1998 Mtl 9 43 4.8 8 1
1999 Mtl 0 0 0.0 0 0
2000 Mtl 23 83 3.6 21 1
2001 Mtl 37 136 3.7 24 3
2002 Mtl 20 109 5.5 40 1
2003 Mtl 29 69 2.4 8 4
2004 Mtl 14 45 3.2 15 1
Total 8 132 485 3.7 40 11


Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1997 Mtl 0 0 0.0 0 0
1998 Mtl 0 0 0.0 0 0
1999 Mtl 0 0 0.0 0 0
2000 Mtl 10 161 16.1 38 1
2001 Mtl 22 23 1.0 24 1
2002 Mtl 9 196 21.8 58 0
2003 Mtl 9 122 13.6 23 1
2004 Mtl 2 18 9.0 9 0
Total 8 52 520 10.0 58 3