Greatest Roughriders NOT on TSN’s all-time team

Photo Scott Grant /

This internet thing is far from perfect.

Aside from fake news and Russian bots putting just about any goof into the white house (oops, did I say that out loud), this easy web access really has consequences.

So, if we have to deal with any blowhard out there spouting their opinion for the rest of us to see, then I’m at least going to join and make you read — since you’ve made it this far already — through my list of the Saskatchewan Roughriders all-time team for players and coaches who didn’t make TSN’s all-time cut.

I didn’t put a lot of thought into it really.

But rather, I took the millennial approach and rattled off a bunch of names I could think of in under an hour of scrolling three or four different sites on my I-phone.

And yet, despite the exhaustive scientific research TSN poured into this thing, I’d be more than happy to put my crew I put together from my couch on a summer night over a Pilsner and Rebellion Lentil against theirs any day of the week.

Here goes:

Head coach
TSN picked: Eagle Keys
My pick: John Gregory

We hear all the time about coaches building a winner from scratch but rarely is that ever true. Almost every championship-winning head coach has inherited a roster developed largely by someone else. John Gregory almost literally built the 1989 Grey Cup champs from scratch. The core of that team came in with Gregory during the 1987 season and never got back to those heights after he left just 21 months later.

TSN picked: Ronnie Lancaster
My pick: Glenn Dobbs

Took the Riders to their first Grey Cup of the modern era. Last quarterback who chose the Roughriders over the NFL after Saskatchewan outbid George Halas and the Chicago Bears for his services.

TSN picks: Roger Aldag, Ted Urness, Gene Makowsky, Jack Abendschan, Brendon LaBatte
My picks: Mike Anderson, Bob Poley, Bryan Illerbrun, Vic Stevenson, Jeremy O’Day

Anderson and Stevenson never get the credit they deserve despite putting in a combined 24 seasons for Saskatchewan including the greatest Roughrider offensive line in team history on the 1989 Grey Cup champs.

Running backs
TSN picks: George Reed and Wes Cates
My picks: Mike Saunders and Molly McGee

Cates was brought to Saskatchewan because he was a running back who could catch. Well Cates, or any other running back for that matter, couldn’t catch better than Saunders.

McGee was so important to the 1976 Riders that his injury in that November’s Grey Cup loss to Ottawa likely cost them the championship because the green Riders couldn’t get the ground game going to kill the clock after he went out.

A young Jim Hopson was told to be ready to dress as an O-lineman so they could use a backup import running back just in case. It didn’t happen and Saskatchewan Baby Boomers are still suffering from nightmares of “Gabriel’s open in the end zone!”

TSN picks: Ray Elgaard, Don Narcisse, Hugh Campbell, Weston Dressler
My picks: Jeff Fairholm, Matt Dominguez, Joey Walters, Rob Bagg

Elgaard was tough but Fairholm could gallop like a gazelle. Dominguez was the final offensive weapon Henry Burris needed to unleash the 2004 Roughriders into the greatest Western Final maybe ever.

Regina Leader Post know-it-all Rob Vanstone — and I say that very affectionately, he literally knows everything about the Riders — keeps reminding us of Walters’ greatness of the early 1980’s. Bagg rehabbed both knees to come back from the dead and play well into his 30’s as a star player filling a Canadian spot.

TSN picks: Dave Ridgway, Ken Clark
My picks: Paul McCallum, Brent Matich

McCallum had his best years in green and white early on then the decision was made to have him double as the punter, too. He was still pretty good overall but I often wonder how great he could have been, had he been allowed to focus on one job like all placekickers should.

Matich had to punt in some hellacious Taylor Field winds before the end zone bleachers were filled in and the wind would, as Warren Moon once said, “cut through there like a knife.” Matich had to do it a lot on some equally atrocious Roughrider teams in the 1990’s.

TSN picks: Bobby Jurasin, Ed McQuarters, Ron Atchinson, John Chick
My picks: Vince Goldsmith, Fred Perry, R-Kal Truluck, Jearld Baylis

Without Goldsmith, the Roughriders do not win the greatest Grey Cup in 1989. Without Perry, the Roughriders do not win the Grey Cup in 2007. Truluck wasn’t in Regina for long but made a big enough impact to push legend Bobby Jurasin aside. Baylis was an unsung hero on some pretty good Don Matthews-led defences in 1992 and 1993.

TSN picks: Wayne Shaw, Eddie Lowe, Reggie Hunt
My picks: K.D. Williams, Dan Rashovich, Mike McCullough

Williams was only with Saskatchewan for half a season in his first go-round in 1997 before wearing out his welcome. But oh what a half season it was. He and Lamar McGriggs terrorized the rest of the league with the CFL’s best linebacking core in an era the Riders didn’t have the best of much else. McCullough wasn’t the biggest, fastest or most athletic. But he probably was the smartest.

Defensive backs
TSN picks: Glen Suitor, Bruce Bennett, Lorne Richardson, Eddie Davis, Ed Gainey
My picks: Albert Brown, Dale West, Dale Joseph, Ted Provost, Terryl Ulmer

Brown did double duty running back kicks and defending the league’s best receivers and never missed a beat. Old-timers talk about West’s contributions to the 1966 Grey Cup champs. Joseph was a stabilizing leader on rookie defensive back coach Richie Hall’s crew in 1994.

Before he and Ray Odums got crossed up on Tony Gabriel’s Grey Cup catch in 1976, Provost was arguably the Riders best defensive player on the league’s best defence. Ulmer turned out to be a shady drug dealer in the end but that doesn’t diminish the two-way player he was on offence and defence from 1994 to 1998.

Foundational players
TSN picks: Bill Clarke, Bill Baker, Kent Austin
My picks: Alan Ford, Richie Hall, Mike Abou-Mechrek

Ford played on the first Grey Cup championship team in 1966, was general manager of the second Grey Cup team in 1989 and has spent most of his life as a Regina resident and all-around good guy in the community.

Hall has lived most of his life in Regina and spent time after his career counselling addicts before coaching with the Roughriders. He’s the only person to be part of three out of the four Grey Cup teams in Saskatchewan.

A transplant from Toronto, Abou-Mechrek lives in Saskatchewan and has provided comedy for the locals through newspaper columns, talk radio and now The Rod Pedersen Show since his playing days ended.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.