My tribute to Russ Jackson!

So it was fifty years ago this month that the 1968 Grey Cup Game between the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Calgary Stampeders was played. The Rough Riders’ quarterback that game was legendary Hall of Famer Russ Jackson.

After graduating from McMaster University of Hamilton in 1958, Jackson played for the Rough Riders from 1958 to 1969 leading the team to Grey Cup victories in 1960, 1968 and 1969. He also won the Schenley Award as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 1963, 1966 and 1969, was the MVP in the 1969 Grey Cup game and also the winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy for being Canada’s most outstanding athlete in 1969. He therefore retired when he was still at the very top of his game. In November 2006 he was the number eight selection on TSN’s list of the top CFL players of all-time. All this I knew.

What I didn’t know was that the degree with which he graduated from McMaster was a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics! Moreover he was McMaster University’s nominee for a Rhodes Scholarship, but decided to pursue a career with the Rough Riders instead of going for the Rhodes Scholarship. Russ Jackson was clearly blessed with a positively intimidating mix of abilities.

I remember meeting Russ Jackson at a pre-game brunch prior to the 1987 Vanier Cup championship game for Canadian universities. The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds were heavily favoured to defeat the McGill Redmen. UBC were the defending champions and had been the dominant team out West. During his presentation, Jackson predicted a McGill victory. He pointed out a couple of key details. The weather was wet and cold and the field was sloppy. McGill had for several weeks played its games under really sloppy conditions but UBC had been playing its games under ideal field conditions. Secondly he showed us a clip of what the Thunderbirds liked to do on offence, and then told us how McGill could align its linebackers to take away what the Thunderbirds had been doing so successfully.

Well I looked for that McGill defensive alignment after the game started and the Redmen did precisely that. Final score: McGill 47 British Columbia 11. Russ Jackson had called it exactly.

What’s ironic is that growing up I was no fan of Russ Jackson whose career with the Ottawa Rough Riders exactly spanned my years from grade one to my last in high school.

My schoolyard was swarming with Rough Rider fans in 1958-60, perhaps because they had Canadians Russ Jackson and Ronnie Stewart. But the Rough Riders’ popularity had the effect of making me lump them with the other mega popular teams, e.g. the New York Yankees and Montréal Canadiens, and causing me to dislike them.

Nonetheless, now that all those decades have flown by and I’ve become one of those seedy bespectacled “grown-ups” (theoretically anyway), I can and do fully appreciate Russ Jackson for the man that he was and what he accomplished. After his induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1973, Jackson was also elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. Jackson also became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and was added to Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2012.

Good report . I read his biography book years ago by Eddie Mccabe for a book report years ago in mid -school .

When the stamp came out and I asked for them at the post office and older female pointed out they put someone anonymous. I said no it’s Russ Jackson on the stamp .

I became incredulous and asked how does she not know who Russ Jackson is ?

I was being silly as his years have long past but kids should know who Russ Jackson is and we should advocate for another Russ as they are not given a fair shot north of the border in our league .

Still would to see some retro uniforms soon as the third jersey .

Amen to your comment, my friend. I have been asking for The Redblacks to do just that for the last 5 - 7 years, along with wearing the big white singular R on the helmet along with retro jerseys, etc. for fans to buy. It would be my dream come true.

That too would have been my reaction.


BEST EVER TRIBUTE to Russ Jackson was at RedBlacks game in Inaugural 2014 Season ;D

Russ still looked great!