If you’re Canada’s football champ, make sure you bring duct tape to your celebration

The World
The Grey Cup splits into two pieces as Calgary Stampeders' Matt Walter celebrates in the locker room after his team defeated the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL's 102nd Grey Cup football championship in Vancouver, BC, November 30, 2014.

It was your average celebration when the Calgary Stampeders won the Canadian Football League championship on Sunday: The whistle blew, the crowd cheered and the team celebrated — by snapping the most-coveted trophy in Canadian football into two pieces.

That trophy, called the Grey Cup, is the Canadian equivalent of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, that shiny football-on-a-stump you see every year at the Super Bowl. It's a beloved piece of Canadian sports heritage, but in the last few years, a new "tradition" has evolved: The winning team breaks the trophy in the middle of celebrations.

The 105-year-old trophy been has now been broken six times — including just two years ago, when Toronto Argonauts player Adriano Belli lifted it over his head in front of a crowd of fans.

In 2006, the BC [for British Columbia] Lions won the Grey Cup, and soon there were two chunks of trophy.

B.C. Lions players celebrate with the Grey Cup, in two pieces, after beating the Montreal Alouettes to win the Canadian Football League's 94th Grey Cup in Winnipeg November 19, 2006.
B.C. Lions players celebrate with the Grey Cup, in two pieces, after beating the Montreal Alouettes to win the Canadian Football League’s 94th Grey Cup in Winnipeg November 19, 2006.Shaun Best/ Resuters

The Grey Cup isn't alone in suffering abuse from its winners. The Copa del Rey, given to the winner of an important soccer tournament in Spain, was dropped under a bus by Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos during the team's victory celebration in 2011. The bus slowly rolled over the trophy.

But in this case, there's a specific reason. “What we've seen with most of the breaks is the initial cup part itself separating from the base, and that's because they're two different trophies, essentially,” explains Andrew Bucholtz, who blogs about the CFL for Yahoo.

That's because the Grey Cup, like the Stanley Cup, adds the names of the winners to the trophy each year. So while the oldest part — the cup itself — is small, "they've had to add more and more space over the years," Bucholtz says. "So the base is not part of the initial trophy. The seal or the rivet joining it just isn't strong enough.”

A player sat on it and broke it in 1987. And there was the time in 1993 when a player head-butted it into two pieces. It's been stolen and recovered twice, and it's even survived a fire. 

Even with that lousy track records, Bucholtz says that the mishaps haven't made the league consider locking up the trophy for safe-keeping.

“The last few years they've been doing this fan march to the stadium, where they've let just average fans carry the cup in a parade on Grey Cup Sunday," he says. "The average fans haven't broken it, so I don't know if that says something good about them or something bad about the players.”

So who did it this time?  Stampeders linebacker Juwan Simpson was the one lifting the Grey Cup above his head when the cup section of the trophy started to split from its base.

“I think I’m the one that did it,” Simpson says. “I don’t know. I grabbed it and was excited … some glue and some duct tape and it’ll be good.”

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