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Ken Ploen, two-way star who led Winnipeg to four Grey Cups, dead at 88

Ken Ploen Ken Ploen - The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Ken Ploen, a two-way star who led the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup titles, has died at 88.

The Blue Bombers confirmed Ploen's death in a statement Tuesday. A cause of death was not given.

Ploen spent 11 seasons with the Blue Bombers from 1957-67.

A star at both quarterback and defensive back, he led the Bombers to Grey Cup titles in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962.

Ploen was named an all-star three times, twice as a quarterback and once as a defensive back after leading the team in 1959 with what was then a club-record 10 interceptions.

He retired in 1967 as the Blue Bombers' all-time leading passer, completing 1,084 passes for 16,470 yards and 119 touchdowns.

He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975.

"Ken Ploen was the face of the Blue Bombers for years and then became a part of the fabric of this community following his playing days," Winnipeg president and chief executive officer Wade Miller said in a statement. "He was a four-time Grey Cup champion as a player and a great ambassador for our franchise and our city.

"The Winnipeg Football Club would like to extend our deepest condolences to the Ploen family and to his many friends and family in Winnipeg as well as across Canada and the United States."

Ploen was born June 3, 1935, in Lost Nation, Iowa.

He was a star collegiately at the University of Iowa, and was named the MVP of the 1957 Rose Bowl after leading the Hawkeyes to a 35-19 win over Oregon State.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024.