James West was born in Fort Worth, Texas and played his college football at Texas Southern University. The Oakland Raiders signed West as a free agent, but he was released prior to the start of the 1980 season, and West then signed as a free agent with the Calgary Stampeders.
After three seasons with Calgary (1982-84) where he won a West All-Stasr at linebacker in 1983, West then signed as a free agent with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL in the spring of 1985. West returned to the CFL in September of that year, signing as a free agent with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. That began a highly successful eight year run for West withe the blue and gold from 1985 to 1992. West won three division All-Stars with the Bombers for 1987, 1988 and 1989 as well as CFL All-Star honours in both 1987 and 1989. Also, in 1987, West was named the Outstanding Defensive Player in the East and was the runner-up for the CFL award. West finished his career with the BC Lions in 1993 after being traded to the West coast for defensive lineman Leo Brown.
West put up some very impressive career numbers with 51.5 quarterback sacks, 21 interceptions and 19 fumble recoveries. West returned two of the interceptions for touchdowns and one fumble for a touchdown. West played in three Grey Cups with the Bombers, winning twice in 1988 and 1990 and losing once in 1992.
James was the corner stone of one of the best defences in, not only Winnipeg Blue Bomber history, but CFL history. His larger than life personality made him an instant fan favourite in Winnipeg. James West and his partner in crime Tyrone Jones were always mention din the the same breath. You rarely, if ever, said one name without the other, these best friend caused havoc to opposing offenses through the back half of the 80’s and into the early 90’s. This dominance rewarded the team with Grey Cup Championships in 1988 and 1990.