CFLAA Legends of the Game Profile – Brett MacNeil
June 16th, 2017
by Tony Playter
Brett MacNeil, the current CFL Alumni Association (CFLAA) president, played 12 seasons in the CFL. Originally drafted in the first round (7th overall) of the 1991 CFL Draft by the Ottawa Rough Riders, MacNeil was traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers prior to the 1992 campaign.
After the trade to the Manitoba capital, MacNeil became a steady and reliable fixture on the Bombers offensive line from 1992-1997 and 1999-2002.
After he retired from football, the Nepean, Ontario native continued to make Winnipeg his home. The community minded MacNeil truly believes in giving back to the community that supported him during his 10 years wearing Blue and Gold.
After his playing career MacNeil turned to coaching. He used his on-field leadership and knowledge of the game to mentor and coach the University of Manitoba Bison’s offensive line.
During that time, MacNeil also opened a martial arts club. MacNeil’s school specialized in the teachings of Wing Chun DO, an extremely efficient and effective self-defense system developed by Sijo James DeMile, one of Bruce Lee’s first students.
MacNeil combined the best of martial arts with football drills to help enhance his player’s concentration, technique and balance. His new coaching philosophy helped guide the undefeated Manitoba Bison’s to the 2007 Vanier Cup championship.
A former CFL all-star, MacNeil has been a member of the CFLAA board since 2013 and is now in his second year as president. He likes to focus his mentorship on players who are transitioning out of football to the regular world.
“Because most players are concentrating on their football careers while playing, only a small portion have developed a career outside the game when they retire,” said MacNeil.
MacNeil also takes an active role in helping the CFL Alumni members with medical challenges, expenses and support when needed.
“As an Alumni Association, we assist former CFL players when they are in an emergency situation and need help,” said MacNeil.
When not concentrating on the CFLAA and helping others find success, MacNeil is the area manager for 3M, an industry leader in aftermarket collision repair products.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers honoured MacNeil by adding him to their Hall of Fame in 2006. A fitting way to recognize a man who was a dynamic player on the field and a caring leader off the field.
Photo by F. Scott Grant