When the Winnipeg Blue Bombers celebrated their victory Nov. 29 in the Grey Cup — the Canadian Football League's championship game — at least one of the players drank no champagne during the locker-room festivities.
"I'm a Mormon; I don't drink," quarterback Sean Salisbury told a reporter from the Winnipeg Sun.
Despite being sacked four times, Salisbury led Winnipeg to a 22-21 win over the British Columbia Lions. In the first quarter, he threw a 71-yard pass to wideout James Murphy. In the second quater, he connected with Murphy for a 35-yard touchdown.
The Winnipeg win was a Cinderella story for both the team and its quarterback. The Bombers entered the tournament with a 9-9 record, becoming the first .500 team to win the CFL championship. Salisbury, a former for University of Southern California, arrived in Winnipeg after being cut in July by the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League.
"It was a dream come true," he said of the Grey Cup win in a telephone interview with the Church News. "I've waited a long time for this. It was the most exciting day of may life in sports."
Yet it was not the most important day of his life — or even the most important year.
"The two most important days os my life were the day I was baptized and the day I married my wife in the temple," he said. "The third most important was the day we won the championship."
The temple marriage of Salisbury and the former Kimberly Goodson was last Aug. 26. Their honeymoon, a Carribean cruise, had to wait until after the Grey Cup.
A member or the Winnipeg lst Ward, the 25-year-old Salisbury was baptized in 1974. His family was introduced to the Church while living in Phoenix, Ariz.
"Our neighbors were members of the Church, and we had no religion, " he said. "My father told my mother he wished she would ask our LDS neighbors about food storage because he was worried about his job.
"One night, my mother phoned the neighbors. The same week, they had made an adopt-a -family plan to brigh t family into the Church. Our neighbors didn't know who they were going to invite to go to Church. They knew we weren't church-goers. My nmother called them during their family home evening, and Sister Phillips, our neighbor, started to cry. She said, `You're the family we're supposed to take to Church.'"
Salisbury said his entire family, which eventually moved to California, was baptized, including his parents, two brothers and sister.
Their conversion brought the family direction, he said.
"Now, we're a close family. There is lots of love in our family. We realize what's important and what's not."
Sports used to be the most important aspect of Salisbury's life, he said, and it still has a hight priority, but he puts it in perspective.
"I don't think Heavenly Father really cares about the score of a football game," he reflected. "It's not adversity that matters but the way we handle it, the way we come out of things. I realize not that people do watch you when you're a member of the Church. It's important to live up to the standards of the Church."
He said he admires the example set by Church members Bruce Hurst and Dale Murphy. In 1986, Hurst played in baseball's World Series with the Boston Red Sox and recently signed with the San Diego Padres. Murphy is a member of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.
"Even though I don't know them, I feel like I do when I read about them and the importance they place in their families," he said. "It rubs off on you."