I published a piece last week entitled “Six CFL records that will never be broken.” The article was well-received and generated so much conversation that I decided to continue to delve into the record books to find another six records that I believe to be unbreakable.
A special thanks goes out to the loyal readers who made suggestions for this list. Of the six records listed below, four came to me under recommendation from my audience. Thank-you for your feedback.
Damon Allen’s 11,920 career quarterback rushing yards
It speaks to Damon Allen’s athleticism that he, a quarterback, is the third all-time leading rusher in CFL history. Almost 4,000 yards ahead of second-place Tracy Ham’s career total of 8,243 rushing yards, Allen set an unbreakable record for quarterback rushing production over his spectacularly lengthy career (1985-2007). To put Allen’s production into perspective, 2015 quarterback rushing leader Brett Smith would need to match his output from last year (444 yards) for another 26 seasons to pass Allen on the all-time list. With all due respect to Smith and the rest of the CFL’s run-happy passers, there is simply no way Allen’s record will be broken. Ever.
Ron Lancaster’s 396 career interceptions
Of all the records I’ve researched over the past few weeks, this is perhaps the one I’m most confident will last forever. With Lancaster a full 115 career interceptions ahead of second-place Danny McManus (281), this record is simply impossible to beat. Quarterbacks in today’s game don’t experience the same longevity Lancaster did as a product of the ’60s and ’70s — and certainly not when they throw as many interceptions as the Little General did. That’s no disrespect to Lancaster who, as a two-time Grey Cup champion and two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player, was a great player – he simply played during a different era with a different set of passing standards. In today’s game, routinely throwing more interceptions than touchdowns — as Lancaster did in 13 of his 19 CFL seasons — is unacceptable.
Grover Covington’s 157 career sacks
This record will stand forever not just because of the astronomical nature of Covington’s sack total, but also because of the NFL’s ever-increasing desire to sign young CFL standouts. Covington averaged a jaw-dropping 16.4 sacks over his first nine seasons with the Tabbies, a level of production that would certainly have earned him an NFL contract in today’s professional football landscape. In the ’80s, however, such leaps were significantly more rare. The closest active CFL player to Covington’s record is Montreal defensive end John Bowman who, at 33, still needs 55 sacks to match Covington.
Milt Stegall’s 144 career receiving touchdowns
Stegall’s overall touchown record (147) may someday be surpassed, but his mark of 144 receiving touchdowns is one that will stand forever. The other two greatest receivers to ever play the Canadian game, Allen Pitts and Geroy Simon, recorded just 117 and 103 receiving touchdowns over their respective careers. Nik Lewis, the CFL’s active leader in receiving touchdowns, is currently on pace to match Stegall’s record in 2029. Somehow I find it unlikely that Lewis will still be a productive CFL player at age 47.
George Reed’s 3,243 career rushing attempts
Running backs don’t have nearly the same longevity as they once did, making Reed’s staggering number of career carries insurmountable. Reed is just one of two CFL running backs who have ever broken the 2,000-carry threshold (the other being Mike Pringle with 2,962) and it is unlikely another player will ever reach that mark, let alone Reed’s 3,243. Long-time Stampeder workhorse Joffrey Reynolds retired with just 1,590 carries, for example, while his protege, Canadian standout Jon Cornish, recently retired with 1,026.
Edmonton’s five straight Grey Cups
Winning one Grey Cup is very challenging. Winning five in a row is virtually unfathomable. Yet that’s precisely what the Eskimos did from 1978-1982, becoming the greatest dynasty in the history of the CFL. Only five teams have managed to win back-to-back Grey Cups since the CFL was founded in 1958: Winnipeg, 1958-59; Winnipeg, 1961-62; Ottawa, 1968-69; Toronto, 1996-97; and Montreal, 2009-10. Between free agency, the salary cap, and much-improved scouting infrastructure league-wide, we will never see another team win five consecutive championships. Period.