Don Jonas - Quarterback - 1969-75 - Penn State
Jonas Still Blue over Trade - Jim Bender - Winnipeg Sun - Feb 20 , 2005
Even now, after all these years, the bitter memory of being traded away from Winnipeg still lingers. "I never told anyone this before, but the biggest disappointment for me was when I negotiated my last contract with the Blue Bombers," former Bombers quarterback Don Jonas was saying from his Winter Springs, Fla., home recently. "I wanted a guarantee that I could retire in Winnipeg. When I got traded (to Hamilton for QB Chuck Ealey in 1974), it was the biggest shock of my career."
And he recalls the scenario vividly.
"We had just won in Saskatchewan, and in those days we almost never won there," Jonas said. "There was an announcement on the plane that the players were to meet when we landed. But they took me to another meeting where they told me I was traded while they were telling the rest of guys I had been traded at the other meeting. I had to go home at two in the morning to tell my wife (Rosemary), 'I just got traded.'
"Now, I knew Dieter Brock was going to be my heir apparent, but whenever I worked with him the coaches chastised me for it. But I felt I had a couple of more years left and thought I could be his backup. But the reality is that didn't happen. But if it was up to my wife, we never would have left Winnipeg. She just loved Canada."
And Winnipeg loved Jonas. Then-Bomber GM Earl Lunsford rescued him after the Toronto Argonauts released Jonas to make room for Joe Theismann and Greg Barton.
"When I came up to Winnipeg, it was a situation where they were going to go bankrupt," said Jonas, now 66. "But we ended up selling out seven of eight games because of the explosive offence we had, and we just missed another sellout by 200 fans. It was probably one of the biggest turnarounds in CFL history."
That offence included the likes of running back Mack Herron, wide receiver Jim Thorpe and tight end Paul Markle.
"I also won the scoring title (121 points) because I kicked field goals, converts and scored touchdowns on quarterback sneaks," said Jonas, who is fifth on Winnipeg's all-time passing list with 12,291 yards. "They didn't have to get a specialist for that because I did it all."
Jonas is now semi-retired, working part-time at an auto-glass replacement shop and "plays a little golf." He had handled radio broadcasts of Central Florida college football games and also had a radio sports talk show for three years.
Despite the trade, he remembers Manitoba most fondly.
"My wife and I used to go snowmobiling and cross-country skiing," Jonas said. "One year, I went up to Churchill to be a judge for a beauty contest and got a dogsled ride. That was such a thrill.
"And I played in the Sportsman's League at the Granite (Curling Club) with guys like Jack Matheson, Don Chevrier, Donnie Duguid and (the late) Jimmy Doyle. When I first started, they asked me what position I played and I said that I'm not very good so I should go last. But I ended up winning that league as a third one year."
Jonas also became the first Bomber to win a Schenley Award for Most Outstanding Player in 1971.
"One thing that bothered me when I was up there a few years ago was that I was the first Schenley Award winner and my picture was not even in there (Bomber office) anywhere," he said.
The most money Jonas ever made was $63,000 one year, which was boosted by a part-time job in Eaton's sports department.
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