Cal Murphy

Cal Murphy (March 12, 1932 February 18, 2012) was a Canadian football coach, general manager and scout, most notably for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. In his career as a coach and/or general manager, he led various teams to nine Grey Cup championships, earning a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. In his retirement years he spent some time as a scout for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League.

Cal Murphy
Born:(1932-03-12)March 12, 1932
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died:February 18, 2012(2012-02-18) (aged 79)
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Career information
CFL statusNational
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight180 lb (82 kg)
UniversityBritish Columbia
High schoolVancouver College
Career history
As administrator
19831996Winnipeg Blue Bombers (GM)
As coach
1974BC Lions (Assistant)
19751976BC Lions (HC)
1977Montreal Alouettes (Assistant)
19781982Edmonton Eskimos (Off. Coach)
19831986Winnipeg Blue Bombers (HC)
19931996Winnipeg Blue Bombers (HC)
19971998Saskatchewan Roughriders (OC)
1999Saskatchewan Roughriders (HC)
2000Frankfurt Galaxy
As player
1956BC Lions
AwardsAnnis Stukus Trophy 1983, 1984
Career stats

Early life

Murphy, one of seven children, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1932. His father, William Murphy, a senior executive with Coca-Cola, moved the family to Vancouver. He attended Vancouver College, a K-12 independent Catholic school for boys served by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in British Columbia, where he was a football standout. He then starred with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds as a left-handed quarterback and defensive back, and played a brief stint with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL in 1956. Murphy then turned to education, returning to Vancouver College and taking over the reins as Head Coach in 1960–61. He led the Fighting Irish to their only undefeated season. He pursued his master's degree while an assistant coach at Eastern Washington University under Head Coach Dave Holmes. Murphy followed Holmes to the University of Hawaii Rainbows, and became part of the most successful coaching tenure in Hawaii history. (From 1968–1974, UH won 67 percent of its games and never suffered a losing season.) In 1973, Murphy left Hawaii for the San Jose State Spartans under Head Coach Darryl Rogers.

Coaching career

Cal Murphy joined the CFL coaching ranks in 1974 with the BC Lions under Head Coach Eagle Keys, and became Head Coach after game six in the 1975 season. He was fired after the 1976 season,[1] and moved on to spend the 1977 Grey Cup championship season in Montreal with the Alouettes under Head Coach Marv Levy. In 1978, he took the job as offensive line coach with the Edmonton Eskimos under head coach Hugh Campbell, and from 1978 through 1982, Edmonton won a record five consecutive Grey Cup championships with the talents of football greats such as Tom Wilkinson, Larry Highbaugh, and Warren Moon.

In 1983, Murphy was hired by Paul Robson of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and spent 14 years as Head Coach and General Manager. He developed a reputation for finding top talent, and developed one of the most feared defenses in CFL history with the likes of Tyrone Jones, James "Wild" West, and Aaron Brown. In a controversial move, he traded away strong-armed and popular starting QB Dieter Brock to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the smarts of lesser known QB Tom Clements. Although Clements would suffer a season-ending collarbone injury, and the Bombers would lose in the 1983 Western Final to the BC Lions, they would crush the Brock-led Tiger-Cats in 1984 by a score of 47–17 in a frigid Grey Cup in Edmonton, bringing the city of Winnipeg its first Grey Cup in 22 years.

Murphy was awarded the Annis Stukus Trophy for Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1984. The Blue Bombers appeared in five Grey Cups under his tenure as GM and Head Coach, winning three in 1984, 1988, 1990. He earned a reputation for his often cantankerous personality. He was an outspoken opponent of CFL expansion to the United States, believing it put a risk to the uniqueness of the Canadian game, and challenged the goodwill relationship long-maintained with the NFL. He finished up his CFL career in Regina with the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1997 to 1999. In 2000, he coached with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe, followed by a brief stint with Chicago Enforcers in the XFL. Murphy was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004, and was a scout for the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts at the time of his death.

CFL coaching record

TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostResult
BC1975 550.5005th in West DivisionMissed Playoffs
BC1976 592.3754th in West DivisionMissed Playoffs
BC Total 10142.4230 West Division
--0 Grey Cups
WPG1983 970.5632nd in West Division11Lost in Division Finals
WPG1984 1141.7122nd in West Division30Won Grey Cup
WPG1985 1240.7502nd in West Division11Lost in Division Finals
WPG1986 1170.6113rd in West Division01Lost in Division Semi-Finals
WPG1993 1440.7781st in East Division11Lost Grey Cup
WPG1994 1350.7221st in East Division11Lost in Division Finals
WPG1995 7110.3895th in North Division01Lost in Division Semi-Finals
WPG1996 990.5003rd in West Division01Lost in Division Semi-Finals
WPG Total 86511.6272 East Division
771 Grey Cup
SSK1999 3150.1675th in West DivisionMissed Playoffs
SSK Total 3150.1670 West Division
--0 Grey Cups
CFL Total 99803.5522 East Division
771 Grey Cup

Personal life

After suffering heart attacks in 1978 and 1985, in 1992 Murphy underwent emergency heart bypass surgery that kept him alive before being saved by a last-second donor and successful heart transplant surgery. In January 1993, the Governor General of Canada presented Cal Murphy with the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal in recognition of the significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada. His eldest son, Mike, is a scout with the NFL's New York Giants, and son-in-law, Sammy Garza, is a scout with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. He had seven children: Carol, Mike, Barbara, Erin, Shannon, Brian and Kelly.

Cal Murphy died in Regina, Saskatchewan on February 18, 2012, aged 79.[2]


  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 13, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Cal Murphy dead at age 79". News Talk 650 CKOM. Rawlco Communications. February 19, 2012. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
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