WINNIPEG—When Jermarcus Hardrick first jumped into the home crowd after a Blue Bombers’ touchdown, it caught some fans by surprise.
“I scared some little kids over here,” the 6’5”, 314-pound offensive right tackle said after Wednesday’s practice while pointing to the end-zone stands.
Home fans might see a lot more of the celebration, which has been coined the “Hardrick Hop.”
Winnipeg (8-4) is riding a seven-game winning streak, and the play of the offensive line is one of the reasons for the Bombers’ dramatic turnaround this season.
In Winnipeg’s first five games, former starting quarterback Drew Willy was sacked 14 times and back-up Matt Nichols twice.
The team went 1-4. Since Nichols became the starter at the beginning of the win streak, he’s only been hauled down nine times in the seven games.
“[Nichols] may process some of the information a little quicker,” Bombers’ offensive line coach Bob Wylie replied when asked for a reason for the improvement.
“That’s about all I can give you,” he added. “[Nichols and the O-line] work well together.”
Winnipeg takes its seven-game win streak into Calgary tomorrow to play the Stampeders (10-1-1), a foe that has won nine-straight.
The CFL announced the game is between two teams with the longest combined winning streak in the history of the league.
Hardrick clearly has been clearly enjoying the ride—debuting the “Hardrick Hop” during Winnipeg’s victory over arch-rival Saskatchewan back on Sept. 10.
“It was against my old team [Saskatchewan], it was the Banjo Bowl, it was a big week, we were sold out,” Hardrick noted.
“I wanted to let the crowd know we appreciated everything through the thick and thin.
“I went up there [into the crowd] and told them I loved the guys,” he added.
Left tackle Stanley Bryant liked Hardrick’s enthusiasm from the get-go.
“I was surprised he got up there,” Bryant smiled. “We were just told to go celebrate with the fans the first game, and I looked over and he was up there.
“I was like, ‘How the hell did he get up there?’”
For Winnipeg’s home game last weekend against Toronto, all the offensive linemen joined in for the jump—a total of 1,591 pounds between Hardrick, Bryant, centre Matthais Goossen, left guard Travis Bond, and right guard Sukh Chungh.
Nichols also was invited to leap, although he was a late-comer because he’d just plunged in for a one-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Winnipeg a 42-29 lead in what ended up as a 46-29 victory.
The “Hardrick Hop” only will be performed when the team scores a TD in what they know will be a win, Hardrick explained, adding he even may change it up.
“We’re probably going to try a couple different ideas,” said the third-year CFL’er, who hails from Mississippi.
“We’ll try to throw some guys up there or put guys on shoulders,” he noted.
“We’re going to keep letting fans know we love them.”
Wylie said his charges surprised him, but he was laughing and appreciated their passion for fans—as long as they celebrate with their teammates first.
He also likes the effort and progression the unit is making.
“Everybody wants it to happen too fast in the sport,” Wylie noted.
“Where I come from, you’ve got to get five guys to play with one heartbeat, which is tough.”
The Bombers’ next home game is Sept. 30 against Edmonton—another opportunity for Hardrick’s take on the “Lambeau Leap.”