* Special thanks to East Side Wally Krawec for this potential Conspiracy.
August 12, 1998
Gerald Wilcox was for about three years the clutch receiver in Winnipeg.
After he arrived from Ottawa in 1992, he led the team in receiving yards from 93-95. However, 1996 was a tough season for Wilcox as he succumbed to a nasty knee injury. Wilcox had been injured before in 1992, so overcoming such a hindrance was nothing new to him. Wilcox was very determined in his rehabilitation, with the news media paying close attention to his 'personal struggle'. Coaches commented on how he was stronger than he had been in years past, and that his recuperation was a success.
The arrival of Jeff Reinebold in Winnipeg signaled the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Reinebold roared into town on his Harley, and brought with him scads of new arrivals that were ready to 'buy into the system', as he put it. However, this meant that the end had arrived for fan favourite Miles Gorrell, who was only signed a few months prior at an impressive ceremony at City Hall. Gorrell was released, and the city talked. But then, another shocking announcement had come: Wilcox, who had not gotten along with Reinebold all that well during training camp, was deemed expendable by the new head coach. Rumours soon began to fly around town in the pubs, in the media, and in the stands.
The most popular theory was that Wilcox, regarded as a wise and independent veteran, was being chopped because he wouldn't 'buy into [Reinebold's] system'. Some Winnipeggers, already alarmed at the contrast of Reinebold's flamboyant ways compared to his predecessor Cal Murphy's conservative management, began calling for Reinebold's head.
They said Reinebold had stepped over the line, and turfed Wilcox just because he would not be the coach's lap dog. They pointed at Wilcox's impressive rehabilitation, and said that the Bombers would lose a huge part of their receiving game. Wilcox left town under a cloud of controversy, to surface shortly after with Wally Buono and the Calgary Stampeders.
The Stamps have long been a pass-happy team, one where Wilcox would surely fit in. Wilcox played in the first game against the rival Edmonton Eskimos, but he did not seem to be the Wilcox of old. He had a rough game, and the whispering began to grow. He seemed malcontent, he didn't seem to fit in. Not long after, he was released by the Stampeders. That stint marked the end of his professional football career, and he soon returned to his home in Winnipeg.
Wilcox- a fan favourite who went through a miraculous rehab, suddenly cut. Was it for speaking his mind and refusing to be a sheep ? Or was it simply because he couldn't catch balls the way he used to ? Or was it something entirely different...was Wilcox blackballed ?
The truth is out there...
Is there a conspiracy?
You be the judge.....