Former Stampeder Bruce Covernton dead at 57

Described as an "anchor" for the Stampeders offensive line by the organization, Covernton won two Grey Cups with Calgary in 1992 and 1998. 

Covernton won two Grey Cups with Calgary in 1993 and 1998

A portrait of a man in a baseball cap and a red jersey
Covernton is remembered by former teammates as being a big presence both on and off the field. (Submitted by Calgary Stampeders)

Bruce Covernton, a former offensive lineman for the Calgary Stampeders, has died at the age of 57.

Described as an "anchor" for the Stampeders offensive line by the organization, Covernton won two Grey Cups with Calgary in 1992 and 1998. 

Hailing from Morris, Man., Covernton remained in Calgary after his CFL career ended and was involved in numerous community endeavours. 

"Quick-witted and big-hearted, Bruce was a larger-than-life personality," said Stampeders president Jay McNeil in a statement. 

"He was a great teammate, a great friend and, more importantly, he had a giant heart for people in need. He will be missed by many. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends."

Covernton twice earned West Division all-star honours and was named a Canadian Football League all-star in 1993. He played 72 regular-season games for the Stampeders from 1992 to 1996. 

He was voted the league's most outstanding rookie in 1992 and the most outstanding lineman in 1993. 

Before joining the Stampeders, Covernton played at Weber State University in Utah and was the first overall draft pick in the 1992 CFL draft. 

Covernton's former linemate Rocco Romano, who was a part of the '92 and '98 Grey Cup-winning squads, said he will cherish the memories he made playing alongside Covernton. 

"I was privileged to have Bruce as a linemate, teammate and very good friend," said Romano. 

Romano said he was in his eighth season with the Stampeders when Covernton joined the team as a rookie in '92. They went on to play side by side that season and win the Grey Cup. 

"I mean, what a way to kick off his career in the CFL."

An ardent supporter of CUPS, Fresh Start Recovery, and Calgary Minor Football, Covernton made an impact both on and off the field, added Romano. 

"Bruce was not only an amazing football player but an amazing person with a big heart. He was always willing to go and help people and find ways to support them.

"Our locker room was special because of his character. I mean obviously on the field [he] was a different type of person, but in the locker room, a prankster, a joker and kept the guys upbeat and laughing all the time." 

At a time when not many men were discussing mental health, Romano said Covernton spoke up, and went on to support related causes. 

"[Bruce was] a great individual to have as part of our team, as part of our organization, and this community was blessed to have him doing what he did for so many people."

Covernton was an active member of the Stampeder Alumni Association and celebrated with members of the 1998 Stampeders Grey Cup team at a reunion this past season.

With files from Dave Will