Riders Plaza of Honour inductees a deserving duo

Roger Brandvold and Wes Cates are go-to guys.  

The media appreciates go-to guys. Evidently, so does the Saskatchewan Roughriders Plaza of Honour, which is going to induct Brandvold and Cates during a gala reception Sept. 22 inside the new Mosaic Stadium.

During a crisis, following a difficult loss or whenever some insight is required, the media looks for a go-to guy, someone who stands up to the questioning and answers honestly. There aren’t enough go-to guys in the sports world, but Brandvold and Cates qualified during their tenures with the CFL team.

A former chairman for the community-owned franchise, Brandvold’s tenure included the 2013 Grey Cup victory and didn’t sail through tremendously rough waters. That’s partially a testimony to Brandvold, whose predecessor had ceded most of the public commentary to the team’s first, full-time president/CEO Jim Hopson. Still, Brandvold understood the importance of being transparent and available whenever there were on- or off-field concerns about the community-owned franchise.

Upon joining the Roughriders in 2007, Cates displayed a disarming smile and a streak of self-confidence. Sometimes injured because of his aggressive play, Cates inspired his teammates and frequently answered for them if they weren’t available for interviews. Cates was always forthright, observant and often humourous when talking about his performances, plus he was able to help outsiders comprehend the team’s state of mind.

They never sought attention, but because they were always available to the media when requested, Brandvold and Cates were able to keep the fans and public up-to-date on the team. That’s not, however, why they’re being inducted.

Brandvold joined the Riders’ Board of Directors in 2005, advancing to chairman in 2010 and serving five years in that volunteer capacity, which included being chair for the team’s most recent Grey Cup victory in 2013. He co-chaired the 2013 Grey Cup committee, participated in negotiations for a TV contract as a member of the CFL’s Executive Committee and was a driving force behind the construction of new Mosaic Stadium.

Cates, a tailback, was acquired from the Calgary Stampeders in June, 2007. A strong runner and reliable receiver, Cates was also an exceptional blocker who protected quarterback Kerry Joseph as the Roughriders marched to the 2007 Grey Cup; Cates played the championship game with a broken foot. Through five seasons with Saskatchewan, Cates played 77 regular-season games and carried 925 times for 4,761 yards and 41 touchdowns. He also played eight playoff games with eight rushes for 507 yards and three touchdowns.

The Plaza of Honor was introduced 30 years ago to fete outstanding contributors to the community-owned franchise. There are now 125 individuals and three teams enshrined in the plaza. The commemorative cairn which lists all the inductees is being moved from the old stadium to the new stadium. The new structure will change the name to Plaza of Honour — adding a “u” to “honour” changes the word’s spelling from the American to the Canadian version.

The plaza’s fund-raising dinner is also undergoing some changes. Tickets used to cost $250, but different price points are being introduced this year and the format is being altered to make it more of a reception than a dinner, with different levels of seating in the new stadium’s banquet halls.

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