Hénoc Muamba, football player (born 23 February 1989 in Kinshasa, Congo). Defensive lineman Hénoc Muamba was named the best defensive player in Canadian university football in 2010. Selected first overall in the 2011 Canadian Football League (CFL) draft, Muamba has played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2011–13), the Montreal Alouettes (2015, 2018–19), the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2016–17) and the Toronto Argonauts (2021–present). A two-time CFL All-Star and the 2019 Most Outstanding Canadian, Muamba was named both Most Valuable Canadian and Most Valuable Player at the 2022 Grey Cup. He is only the second player in CFL history (after Andrew Harris in 2019) to earn the double honour.
Early Life and Family
Hénoc Muamba (pronounced ee-nock WAHM-bah) is the middle son of Louise and Germain Muamba. Hénoc has an older brother, Cauchy, and a younger brother, Kelvin. Cauchy Muamba was a defensive back in the CFL from 2010 to 2019. He played with BC, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal. Hénoc and Cauchy both played football at St. Francis Xavier University, while Kelvin was a receiver at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Hénoc and his brothers were born in Kinshasa, Zaire. In 1997, Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Muamba family members identify as natives of the Congo rather than Zaire. (See also African Canadians.)
When Hénoc was five years old, the family moved to Montreal. They lived there for seven years before moving to Mississauga, Ontario, so that the family, who are francophones, could learn English. Hénoc attended Father Michael Goetz Secondary School in Mississauga and is fluently bilingual. He initially “hated” football, but his interest in the CFL was piqued when former Toronto Argonauts linebacker Chuck Winters and running back Michael “Pinball” Clemons attended his school to promote the Argos.
St. Francis Xavier X-Men (2007–10)
From 2007 to 2010, Muamba played four seasons in Atlantic University Sport with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men. He is the X-Men’s all-time leader in tackles with 149.5. He was named the AUS Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and 2010. He also won the President’s Trophy in 2010 as the year’s best defensive player in Canadian university football.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2011–13)
Muamba was selected first overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2011 CFL Canadian Draft. He was the first player in the history of the St. Francis Xavier University football program to be selected first overall and only the third player in Atlantic University Sport (after Dalhousie University’s Mike Riley in 1977 and Saint Mary’s University’s Steven Morley in 2003).
In 2011, his rookie season, Muamba was used primarily on special teams for the Blue Bombers. He had 15 special-teams tackles. However, on 30 September 2011, he recorded his first and only CFL career touchdown. The play came from a blocked punt; Muamba recovered the ball and ran 52 yards for the score.
In 2012 and 2013, Muamba saw regular playing time on defense for the Blue Bombers. In 2012, he had 61 defensive tackles and three sacks and set career highs with five forced fumbles and 20 special team tackles. Muamba had two forced fumbles in one game. That came in a 32–25 Winnipeg win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on 16 August 2012.
In 2013, Muamba had 92 defensive tackles, 19 special-teams tackles, one sack and one interception. He was the CFL’s co-leader in tackles with 111. At the end of the season, Muamba was named the Blue Bombers’ most outstanding player, top Canadian and best defensive player. He was a finalist for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian award and was named a CFL All-Star at linebacker.
Indianapolis Colts (2014)
On 6 February 2014, Muamba signed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League (NFL) as an undrafted free agent. In one season with Indianapolis, he had six combined tackles (four solo and two assisted) in 13 games. He was waived by the Colts before the 2015 NFL season.
Montreal Alouettes (2015)
On 30 September 2015, Muamba returned to the CFL, signing a two-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes. To close out the 2015 CFL season, he had 14 defensive tackles and one interception in four games.
Dallas Cowboys (2016)
Muamba was not with Montreal for long, deciding once again to pursue an NFL career. He opted out of his Alouettes contract and signed with the Dallas Cowboys on 30 July 2016. Unable to make Dallas’s roster, he was released by the Cowboys on 2 September 2016.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (2016–17)
A month after being released by the Cowboys, Muamba signed a contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on 5 October 2016. In 22 games with the Roughriders over the next two seasons, Muamba had 100 defensive tackles, 20 special-teams tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles.
Return to Montreal (2018–19)
Heading into the 2018 CFL season, Muamba was one of the league’s most coveted free agents. On 12 April 2018, he signed a three-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes worth $185,000 per season. During the 2018 season, Muamba was second in the CFL in defensive tackles with 108. He had a career-high five sacks, one special-teams tackle, one interception and one forced fumble. In 2018, he was named a CFL East All-Star. He was also the Alouettes’ player of the year, defensive player of the year and top Canadian.
In 2019, Muamba had 93 defensive tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack. For the first time, he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian. He was also named a CFL All-Star.
Impacted by COVID-19
The 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also significantly impacted Muamba and his family. His mother-in-law died of COVID-19 at the age of 66. As a result, Hénoc and his wife, Jessica, became the primary caregiver of Jessica’s sister, who has cognitive and physical disabilities.
Toronto Argonauts (2021–present)
When the CFL returned to action in 2021, Muamba joined the Toronto Argonauts. In 27 games over the next two seasons, he had 124 tackles, three special-teams tackles, five sacks and three interceptions. Muamba’s most notable game with the Argonauts came in the 109th Grey Cup game in Regina on 20 November 2022. In a thrilling 24–23 win over the Blue Bombers, Muamba had three tackles, one pass deflection and an interception. His interception helped protect a one-point Toronto lead. Following the victory, Muamba became only the second player in CFL history to be named the Most Valuable Canadian and Most Valuable Player at the Grey Cup (after Andrew Harris of the Blue Bombers in 2019).
On 20 February 2023, Muamba re-signed with Toronto for the 2023 CFL season. His career stats in 135 regular-season games include 592 tackles, 78 special-teams tackles, 17 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and eight interceptions.