Five players who should be in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

The Canadian Football League unveiled the 2018 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class at a Gala Event in Winnipeg on Mar. 21. The class of Scott Flory, Tommy Hugo, Hank Ilesic, Brent Johnson, Barron Miles, Frank Cosentino, and Paul Brule is a great group that’s fully deserving of induction.

The announcement caused me to reflect on some of the players who should be in the Hall of Fame, but aren’t. Here are five players who are worthy of induction to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Bryan Chiu

A seven-time league and nine-time divisional all-star, Chiu is one of the most well-decorated offensive linemen in CFL history. Chiu’s resume includes a Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award in 2002 as well as three Grey Cup victories with Montreal over the course of his thirteen-year career (1997-2009).

Chiu entered the coaching ranks after his playing days were over, coaching the offensive line at Concordia for four seasons (2010-2013) before moving on to the Argonauts (2014) and Redblacks (2015-present).

Chiu is a slam dunk for the Hall of Fame — it’s only a matter of time before his induction becomes official. The fact that he’s been eligible for five years without being inducted is a surprise and, in many ways, a crime.

Kent Austin

Austin may not be Hall of Fame-worthy for his work as the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2017, but there’s no question that he deserves to be enshrined for his career as a player.

Austin currently sits twelfth all-time in CFL passing with 36,030 yards over a ten-year playing career split between Saskatchewan (1987-1993), B.C. (1994), Toronto (1995), and Winnipeg (1996). Every player above Austin on the list is either already in the Hall of Fame (ie. Anthony Calvillo, Damon Allen, Ron Lancaster, etc.) or not yet eligible for enshrinement (Kevin Glenn, Ricky Ray, and Henry Burris).

Austin’s name is conspicuous in its absence from the Canadian Football Hall of Fame’s Eligible Candidates webpage; this raises the question of whether or not Austin has ever been formally nominated to be enshrined. If this is the case, someone should hook him up — there’s a nominations form on the webpage (seriously: it’s here and anyone can fill it out).

Jesse Lumsden

Lumsden’s CFL career was cut short due to injury, but people shouldn’t forget that he’s arguably the greatest Canadian university football player of all-time.

Lumsden spent his first two seasons at McMaster splitting time in the backfield with Kyle Pyear and Hec Crighton winner Kojo Aidoo. Once he became the Marauders’ featured offensive player as a junior, Lumsden exploded for 3,313 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns on just 356 carries (9.3 yards per carry) in his final two collegiate seasons.

Lumsden sits fifth all-time in USports rushing (4,138), achieving that mark having played just four seasons of collegiate football (and only starting for two). That’s remarkable. Somebody put that man in the Hall.

Hector Pothier

Pothier spent more than a decade anchoring the offensive line of the Edmonton Eskimos, earning four divisional and one league all-star nod. Pothier also won the prestigious Tom Pate Memorial Award in 1988.

What sets Pothier apart is his legacy of winning. The St. Catharines native won the Grey Cup with Edmonton six times (1978-1982, 1987) in twelve seasons, an almost unfathomable championship rate of fifty percent.

It’s up for debate whether or not individuals should be recognized for championships won in a team sport, but Grey Cup victories have always been taken into account when considering players for the Hall of Fame. Between dressing for 192 career games, earning four all-star nods, and winning six Cups in twelve years, Pothier deserves a call to the Hall.

Eddie Murray

Murray is far from a household name, but the fact that he’s not in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame is a crime.

Murray dressed for 250 NFL games from 1980-2000, a 21-year career that included a twelve-year stint (1980-1991) with the Detroit Lions. A two-time Pro Bowl selection (1980, 1989) and Super Bowl XXVIII champion, Murray converted on 352 of 466 career field goals attempts with seven different teams in the NFL.

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame is designed (on paper, at least) to celebrate the achievements of players within Canadian Football, a mandate which (obviously) excludes the NFL. Even so, I believe Murray deserves to be enshrined for his contributions to the game regardless. Only 42 men have appeared in more NFL games than Murray, a 175-pound man born in Halifax, Nova Scotia — if that’s not worth Hall of Fame consideration, I’m not sure what is.

John Hodge

John Hodge

John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.
John Hodge
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John Hodge
About John Hodge (315 Articles)
John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.

52 Comments on Five players who should be in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

  1. Russell // April 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm //

    In my view, people who have legal problems because of illegal drugs should be excluded from the Hall of Fame.

  2. Cal Gary Shampeders // April 1, 2018 at 2:59 pm //

    “What sets Pothier apart is his legacy of winning. The St. Catharines native won the Grey Cup with Edmonton six times (1978-1982, 1987) in twelve seasons, an almost unfathomable championship rate of fifty percent.”

    Why on Earth would we not simply enshrine every single member of those Edmonton teams who played for at least four of those Grey Cup champs. I mean sure, they may not deserve it any more than Pothier – who would have made it long ago if he really deserved it – but hey. They were able to ride the coattails of actual HoFers to victory. And isn’t that what immortality is really about?

    The Hall of Fame in Canton is littered with Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers who have no business there (Lynn Swann??? Are you serious?). Let’s not dumb down the CFL’s version by doing the same.

    • I think what actually sets Pothier apart from other Eskimo players is he did while playing with a disability – he’s legally deaf in one ear. The fact he was anchoring an O Line, of all places, with half his hearing is pretty damn impressive to me, and no, I’m not an Edmonton fan.

  3. R u friggin for real !!! Jesse Lumsden ???….what a homer comment…he was good but always injured….I can think of at least 10 other Canadian players over the years

    • Lumsden can be nominated and inducted as a collegiate player rather than a pro. Each year one player who had an outstanding university career goes into the HoF. I got the distinct impression that Hodge was suggesting Lumsden be inducted in that category. Lumsden was great as a pro too but the injury bug certainly did shorten his career so going in as a pro player seems unlikely.

  4. Green&Gold // April 1, 2018 at 3:07 pm //

    Hector the Great and Austin should be in

  5. Larry…Canadian football Hall of Fame…not Canadian football LEAGUE hall of fame.

    • If this comment is aimed at the Eddie Murray question, it could be argued that Murray did Not play Canadian football. If it’s in reference to Jesse Lumsden, I would refer to TFMCBs comment above.

  6. One glaring omission is Dick Thornton of the Argos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Along with being a great DB, who held the CFL and overall pro record for interceptions returned for TDs, he was a backup QB, pass receiver and punter. It’s a travesty he’s not in the hall. Why?

    • Leo Lewis // April 1, 2018 at 6:25 pm //

      Agreed. With the exception of Bryan Chui, Dick Thornton is more worthy than anyone listed in this story.

      Unfortunately, most people have no real sense of the history of the sport. Once most players’ career is more than 25 years in the past, they are forgotten.

  7. Wingback // April 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm //

    Hector Pothier for sure. Kent Austin probably.
    Jessie Lumsden…… if you are going to put him in there are probably several players who should be in based solely on their U sort credentials. What about Don Blair??

  8. Just saying // April 1, 2018 at 3:51 pm //

    I totally agree Larry, Jesse Lumsden? That’s crazy

  9. Who’s Jesse Lumsden ??

  10. Leighton // April 1, 2018 at 4:14 pm //

    Really, Stage? You’ve just discredited any future comments you’ll ever make if you don’t know who Lumsden is. Wow. Go back to your video games I guess.

  11. Glenn Chernick // April 1, 2018 at 4:26 pm //

    I am not sure about Jesse Lumsden but Pottier, Austin and Chui for sure

  12. Franco Farinaccio // April 1, 2018 at 4:59 pm //

    If you are going on college careers, Andy Fantusz, Jaime Bone, Dan Ferraday, Greg and Blake Marshall all belong in the HOF ahead of Jesse Lumsden.

    • Steve J. // April 1, 2018 at 7:12 pm //

      Franco, I can just see you sitting at home in purple & white with your UWO coffee mug.

  13. How can Lumaden be in there? Maybe if you had a separate section for U Sport players otherwise no. Joe Zuger shoulld be in. There are other guys who have been excluded who did more than Lumsden. Make U Sports separate from the CFL a& then sure.

    • Clay Connor // April 1, 2018 at 11:22 pm //

      Totally agree about Joe Zuger. A good quarterback and the best punter of his era. His 45.5 yard career punting average is ahead of Hank Ilesic’s 44.8 and Ilesic just got voted into the Hall of Fame. Zuger also played defensive back. He’s a 3-time Grey Cup champion and a former Grey Cup MVP.

  14. University & Junior football should really have their own separate Hall Of Fame at a different location with their own separate induction ceremonies . Don’t want to sound cruel here but there are former CFL players getting shafted by not being elected into the Canadian Football Hall Of Fame. One spot given to someone from CIS means one spot not given to a deserved player getting older. The CFHOF should be called the Canadian Football League Hall Of Fame only for CFL Players. Another former CFL player who should be in is Cookie Gil Gilchrist. Just my opinion for what it’s worth.

  15. Eddie Murray? No. If he is HOF worthy then he’ll be elected to the Pro Football HOF in the States. He never played one game in the CFL.

  16. CFL family // April 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm //

    What about Tom “the turnup” McGee????

  17. greenenvy? // April 1, 2018 at 7:49 pm //

    How about “Bibbles” Bawell – one of the all time greats.

  18. While we’re at it I could never figure out why Bill Stevenson has been overlooked for the HOF. He spent his entire 14 year CFL career with the Eskimos, the first three as a defensive lineman and the remainder as an offensive lineman. He was named CFL All-Star 2 times and was a part of a CFL record seven Grey Cup championship teams with the Eskimos.

  19. Lumsden was magical to watch….alas, I believe his 10-15 games played in the CFL make him ineligible

  20. TicatTO // April 1, 2018 at 9:20 pm //

    What about Earl Winfield?

  21. Lumsden belongs in the CIS Hame of Fame but not in the CFL.

  22. Jim Mullin // April 1, 2018 at 9:37 pm //

    It’s the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and museum. That’s why great amateur and professional players are inducted. It’s a picture of the game in its’ entirety. An amateur player is selected based only on amateur play. Lumsden ‘s injuries or play in the CFL would have no bearing on what he did in the OUA. Also, the amateur player was added, it didn’t take away from advancing any of the professionals.

  23. Jim Mullin // April 1, 2018 at 9:45 pm //

    Also, it’s a Hall for Canadian Football, not Canadians in football. It’s there to celebrate and chronicle the game.

  24. Edward Leslie // April 1, 2018 at 11:30 pm //

    John, those are some good candidates. Well though out and lots of good points to back up their worthiness.
    I kind of forgot about Eddie Murray, whos probably the most successful Canadian kickers in NFL history. Although there have been many, including Mike Vanderjagt, Zenon Andrusyshyn, Steve Christie, Jerry Kauric, Mitch Berger,Shaun Suisham and of
    course, Jon Ryan.
    Ironically Eddie Murray is one Canadian guy who had huge success in the NFL, after failing to carch on in the CFL. He once tried out for the B.C. Lions, but got best out for the job by some guy named Lui Passaglia! LOL
    Probably the most deserving is Bryan Chiu. He might have been the best Centre in CFL history.

  25. Jerry Kauric was average at best. Let’s not kid ourselves.

    But if we’re inducting the best Canadian players to play in the NFL, then how about Rueben Mayes? Of course, he wouldn’t qualify. So, we’d have to exclude players who never played in the CFL for any duration.

  26. Stephen Wade // April 2, 2018 at 12:33 am //

    Everywhere Mr. Kent Austin played he was a winner, hands down, no doubt should be in the hall of fame.

  27. Dick Thornton.

    • patlynch // April 2, 2018 at 8:34 am //

      Tricky Dicky Thornton, Bob Krause, Joe Zuger, Gene Cepetelli. Willie Bethea, Dave Mann, and Leo Cahill should be first in line at the next induction .

  28. Honestly, ANY of those mentioned would mean lowering the bar. Good players, and agree Austen and Pothier are possibly closest, but I think they are top 5%, not top 0.5 -1%. Keep it special.

  29. Dogdrool // April 2, 2018 at 12:55 pm //

    Nik Lewis and Jon Cornish what the hell!

  30. Leighton

    I stand corrected
    Neil Lumsden – Canadian Football League Hall of Famer , outstanding stats

    Jesse Lumsden was a very good University player – his stats show that , but was a complete ‘Bust’ with the Canadian football league , injured more than he played .
    Yes – he won a medal in the Winter Olympics , with the help of the others – bobsledding , but there too , injury prone

    I would suspect – I’m not the only guy out there who didn’t know who Jesse Lumsden was .

  31. rogieshan // April 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm //

    Definite no for Murray. By your argument, Flutie, Calvillo and Geroy Simon all deserve to be enshrined in Canton.

    • Jade Duckett // April 2, 2018 at 3:49 pm //

      Canton has an international category, but otherwise only Flutie can be considered

  32. Bob Preiss // April 2, 2018 at 1:24 pm //

    Before any of the above are mentioned for the HOF you have to talk about Ernie Pitts. A four time Cup winner with the Blue Bombers his offensive and defensive numbers speak for themselves. A travesty he is not already in the HOF.

  33. Edward Leslie // April 2, 2018 at 5:23 pm //

    Dogdrool, I think Jon Cornish becomes eligible in 2019. He’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer for sure.
    With Jerome Messam sigining with Saskatchewan, John Hufnagel shoukd even give him a call and ask if he’d consider a comeback.

    Thick Nik hasn’t even officially retired yet. If you look at Montreal’s website, he’s still listed on their current roster. And why not, he’s clearly the best receiver they have. I hope he plays in 2018.

    • greenenvy? // April 3, 2018 at 11:26 am //

      Thick Nik WAS a good player but is now a guy who waddles out 8 yards, waits for a pass & then tries to run over somebody. Jackson was misused. He’s an inside receiver, not a wideout. Williams was a bust last year but still has speed & if the QB can get him the ball, can still be a difference maker. And Cunningham was top 10, over 1100 yds, on a bad team. Love Nik but he’s done. He can’t be taking up a spot for a younger guy.

  34. Terry Greer and Merv Fernandez — the two most feared and talented receivers of the 1908s. Both so good they left for the NFL after just six seasons in the CFL. (Just like Warren Moon, who’s in the CFHOF.) Their continued exclusion, and the fact it took Hank Ilesic 17 years or so to get enshrined, do not reflect well on the Hall’s secretive selection process.

  35. Hodge. Wake up and smell the Roses…Joe Zuger.. Do some research.

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