Former UND running back suffers severe leg injury in Blue Bombers' home debut

Former UND running back Brady Oliveira sits in a Winnipeg hospital after a serious leg injury suffered Thursday night in the Blue Bombers' 28-21 win over Edmonton at Investor's Group Field. Submitted photo.

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' locker room at Investor's Group Field was mostly jovial late Thursday night after the CFL franchise remained undefeated by holding off previously unbeaten Edmonton 28-21 in front of more than 25,000 fans at the team's home opener.

The one exception was Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris, a 32-year-old, four-time CFL All-Star.

Already a little steamed from fumbling twice to allow the Eskimos more comeback hopes than they should've had, the veteran CFL star took note of the vacant locker room stall.

That stall belonged to former UND running back Brady Oliveira, who suffered a severe leg injury late in the first half. Oliveira went directly to the hospital for surgery and wasn't at the stadium postgame.

"It's a kid who's definitely close to my heart," said Harris, who -- like Oliveira -- attended Oak Park High School in Winnipeg.


It was a brutal injury for Oliveira, both in its literal severity and in the unfair nature of its timing.

In his first professional season, Oliveira was returning to play in his hometown of Winnipeg for the first time. The Blue Bombers opened on the road in Week 1 and a season full of anticipation has seen the Blue Bombers now win their home opener for the first time since 2014 and become the last remaining unbeaten in the West Division.

As a backup running back in a pass-heavy league, Oliveira's playing time had yet to develop on offense.

But with less than two minutes left in the first half against Edmonton, Oliveira saw the field as a blocker on a kick return.

The Charles Nelson return went left behind Oliveira and the play rolled up into the back of his legs along the Eskimos' sideline. Replays showed a gruesome injury to his right ankle.

As he laid on the field for a medical cart to get him, players from both teams approached Oliveira to offer condolences. Winnipeg teammates Nic Demski and Darvin Adams knelt next to him.

"You could tell he's in a lot of pain there, so you wish him a speedy recovery and my heart goes out to him," Harris said.

The Bombers selected Oliveira in the second round, 14th overall during the 2019 CFL draft. Known for his punishing running style, Oliveira rushed for 2,822 yards and 22 touchdowns in 42 career games at UND.


"It's tough for any player," Bombers coach Mike O'Shea said. "Any player that goes down, their teammates hurt for him for a minute, then they realize what they need to do and they shake it off. Now, they'll go back to the idea of dealing with the personal side of football."

O'Shea wouldn't offer specifics on how long he thought Oliveira would be out.

On Friday, Oliveira tweeted the surgery was a success.

"Thank you everyone for their thoughts and well wishes over the past 24 hours," he tweeted. "While this is yet another obstacle, I know with my faith, family, friends and the support of the greatest fans in the CFL, I'll come back stronger and hungrier."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
What To Read Next
Featuring local prep hockey results, area boys and girls basketball scores and much more!
Featuring area men's and women's basketball results, college hockey scores, local college tennis results and much more!
Featuring boys wrestling results, prep hockey scores, area college basketball results and much more!
Girls basketball