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Inside the CFL: A well-deserved honor
By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist
Guelph, ON (Sports Network) - When you break down the numbers, it's really incredible.
A few years ago, a Virginia Tech study said football players were that were struck in the head 30 to 50 times per game, regularly enduring blows similar to those experienced in car crashes.
Take those 50 plays per game, multiply it by 16 games, then, throw nineteen years into the mix.
That's why there should be no question why Miles Gorrell, is being inducted this year into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
No offensive lineman in the CFL played more games than Gorrell, a staggering 321.
Gorrell spent time with five teams in the Canadian Football League, but most notably with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he won his only Grey Cup in 1986. Of those 321 games, 126 were played in a Tiger-Cat uniform, for 8 of his 19 seasons.
Last Sunday, at the Tiger-Cats home season opener against Edmonton at Alumni Stadium in Guelph, he and a former teammate, who is also being inducted this year, Earl Winfield, were honored at halftime.
As is the nature of all offensive linemen, in any brand of football, Gorrell didn't want any praise for the job he did. Instead, he talked about how football is the ultimate team game.
"It's very humbling, and it's one of those things you never think about. As an O lineman, you just go through life, and enjoy it, and take the ride and have fun with your friends on the O line, because you're a group; you're never singularly popular unless you're with your friends as a group."
As an offensive lineman, specifically playing at tackle, he was involved in contact on every offensive play. But, he pointed out, his offensive line mates did the same thing.
"We're there to do a job, and I had a pretty good cast of friends Jason Riley, Dale Sanderson, Ralph Scholz, Mike Derks, Rae Robertis and Lloyd Fairbanks. I really enjoyed my time and I stay in touch with all of them. I think that's the big thing you enjoy most as an O lineman; the friendships you make along the way."
As is always the case, whenever someone is inducted into the Hall of Fame, one of the obligatory questions is, what's your best memory?
Gorrell didn't hesitate.
"Winning the Grey Cup (in 1986) with Al Bruno as head coach. It was a simpler world then. We had four assistant coaches, and offensively, so much talent. Rocky DiPietro at slotback, Steve Stapler and Ron Ingram as wide receivers, and Mike Kerrigan as quarterback."
As much as Gorrell is appreciative of the honor, he admits the induction ceremonies will be a little sweeter, because Winfield is going into the Hall with him.
"Earl was one of my favorites when we played together," he said. "I loved watching him run by people, when people didn't think he was very fast. He just didn't look fast, but he ran so well and was so fluid."
Over the course of his Tiger-Cat career, the Calgary native was named the team's Most Outstanding Lineman four times and the East's top lineman in 1985 and 1988.
These days, Gorrell is working with the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks, as their Canadian college scout.
And, the induction to the Hall caps off what has been a special year for the Gorrell family.
His daughter, Tori, who has just completed the 10th grade, has accepted a volleyball scholarship at Penn State.
Winfield is the leading receiver in Tiger-Cats history, having amassed 10,119 yards and 75 touchdowns on 573 receptions during his 11 seasons in Hamilton. The native of Petersburg, Virginia who attended the University of North Carolina, spent his entire CFL career in Black and Gold, collecting four East Division and two CFL All-Star nods as well as five nominations as the team's Most Outstanding Player along the way.
The other player inductees include offensive lineman Dan Ferrone and Brian Fryer.
Ferrone played a total of 213 games in his career. In 2003, he was named President of the Argos. He participated in four Grey Cup games winning two of them in 1983 and 1991.
A 10 year Argo captain, Ferrone is also a ten time-team nominated Outstanding Lineman and two-time league finalist.
Once Fryer's collegiate career at the University of Alberta was over, he was selected by the Washington Redskins 234th overall in the NFL Draft, where he signed a three-year deal with Washington and became the second Canadian trained at a Canadian university to be drafted and signed by an NFL team. In 1978, Fryer signed with the Edmonton Eskimos and was part of the Eskimos dynasty that won five straight Grey Cups.
Since Fryer's retirement, he has been the Executive Director of Football Alberta and in 2008; he was inducted into the Alberta High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Going into the Hall in the builder category are John (Jake) Ireland and Don Loney.
Ireland was a CFL official for 555 games which lasted 29 seasons. Ireland's first game as a CFL official was on June 12, 1979 when the Ottawa Rough Riders played the Montreal Alouettes. During his career, Ireland was an official in 16 Grey Cups, and refereed four straight Grey Cups from 1985 to 1989. Ireland retired as an on-field official in 2008.
Upon retirement, Ireland became the head of the CFL video replay unit. Loney, the St. Francis Xavier head coach who coached his team to a 133-31-2 record, nine conference titles, four Atlantic Bowl Championships, six Jewett Trophy Championships, and one Canadian College Bowl Championships.
Before he coached at the St. Francis Xavier, Don Loney played eight seasons in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts and the Ottawa Rough Riders, winning two Grey Cups, and also won the Jeff Russel Trophy in 1950 for being the Most Valuable Player of the East.
Loney is also a member of the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
This year's Induction Weekend will be held in Edmonton. On Saturday, October 5 the Eskimos will host the Montreal Alouettes during the 50th Anniversary Canadian Football Hall of Fame Induction Weekend - a first for the Eskimos and the City of Edmonton.
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.
Comments? Criticism? Applause? - Ted.Michaels@corusent.com.
07/08 19:09:32 ET