Canadian governor general Mary Simon announced 135 appointments to the prestigious Order of Canada on Wednesday and a former CFL all-star was among those honoured for their extrodinary contributions to the nation.
Robert Duff McKeown, known to all as Bob, was made a Member of the Order of Canada “for his excellence in investigative journalism for television,” but he first graced television screens in this country as a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders.
After graduating from Yale, McKeown spent five seasons from 1971 to 1975 with his hometown Riders. He played 70 games over that span and was named a CFL East All-Star at centre in 1974, one year after he helped Ottawa win the 61st Grey Cup.
The son of a journalist, McKeown began his career in media while still a player, delivering sports commentary on CBC radio in Ottawa three times per week. In 1981, he joined the CBC’s The Fifth Estate, a popular investigative journalism show, as a co-host. He left the program in 1990 to join NBC’s Dateline for eight years, before jumping to CBS News for five years after that.
McKeown returned to The Fifth Estate in November of 2002 after 13 years working south of the border and continues to be one of the most respected voices in Canadian journalism. Along the way he has covered everything from the 1987 Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup run, to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to being the first journalist to broadcast from the front lines during the Gulf War. In the process, he has won two Gemini Awards and two Emmy’s.
Nevertheless, McKeown has stayed connected to his CFL roots. He has served as an executive with Ottawa’s CFL alumni organization and been a Redblacks season ticket holder, but has also called the league to account for failing to do more to help current and former players suffering the aftermath of concussions.
In 2016, McKeown announced that he would be donating his brain to the Canadian Concussion Centre in order to learn more about the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries in football.