Notable CFL-to-NFL defensive lineman Earl Edwards dead at 78

Photo courtesy: EE Alumni

Notable CFL-to-NFL success story Earl Edwards passed away earlier this month after a lengthy medical battle. He was 78 years old.

Born in Statesboro, Ga. but raised in Tampa, Fla., Edwards began his professional career in Canada after an early departure from Wichita State University. He originally signed with the Ottawas Rough Rider in 1967 before being released in training camp and joining the Edmonton Football Team. He went on to play two years with the Green and Gold, suiting up for 31 games while splitting time between the offensive and defensive tackle positions.

After two CFL seasons, Edwards was selected in the fifth round of the 1969 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers and finished tied for second in voting for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year behind ‘Mean Joe’ Greene. He went on to become one of the most successful former CFL players in NFL history, enjoying an 11-year career that also included stops with the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers. In 150 career games along the defensive line, he recorded 51 sacks and recovered seven fumbles.

Following his retirement in 1980, Edwards spent three years coaching at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas before earning a degree in sports psychology at Arizona State University, where he also worked for the football team. He later went on to become Player Program Coordinator for the Arizona Cardinal, while also engaging in athletic ministry, serving as a youth counsellor, and working as a substitute teacher.