Calgary Stampeders

Willie Burden - Running Back- 1974-1981 - North Carolina State

 

Al Ruckaber - Calgary Sun - April 28, 2001 - Ultimate rush - Stamps great Willie Burden on his way to the hall

Back in 1974, Willie Burden rushed into the hearts and minds of the long-suffering Calgary Stampeders fans.

As a rookie running back out of North Carolina State, Burden joined a bad 6-10 team with little star power. In just six games, he rushed for 541 yards and finally gave the fans something to cheer about.

The next season, Burden would turn the league upside-down, rushing for a CFL all-time single season record 1,896 yards and winning the Schenley Award for most outstanding player.

During his eight-year Stampeders career (1974-1981), Burden rushed for 6,234 yards.

In 1982, the Stampeders retired Burden's No. 10 jersey. And in 1992, his name was placed on Stamps' Wall of Fame at McMahon Stadium.

 

But yesterday, the ultimate award was bestowed on Burden, as he made his last great rush -- straight to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.


Burden was named along with QB Warren Moon (Edmonton), defensive end James (Quick) Parker (Edmonton, B.C.), offensive lineman Bill Frank (Winnipeg) and the late builder Sid Forster, as 2001 inductees.

Official induction ceremonies take place at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium at halftime of the Sept. 22 game between the Tiger-Cats and Stampeders.

Burden, 49, who is now an assistant professor of sports management at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., felt deeply honoured but somewhat surprised at his induction.

"When I first came into the league, there were great players like Ron Lancaster and George Reed and I thought those were the real stars, players who were Hall of Fame material," Burden said from his home.

"But I never thought I'd be in their category. When I got the news, it was a very welcome surprise. I just wanted to shout out loud to the world that 'hey, I made it to the CFL Hall of Fame.'

"I hadn't thought about it much over the years. The people here in the south don't know how to equate what I achieved in the CFL. All they know is that I played and had some success. So, of course, there was never any talk about Hall of Fame and that sort of thing. I just thought it would be a longshot to make it. So, it's really a surprising, tremendous honour, something I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Actually, Burden thought he'd been all but forgotten, even in Calgary.

"I've been retired 20 years now and the Stampeders have had a lot of success since I've been gone, especially throughout the 1990s," said Burden, whose wife Velma also works at Georgia Southern, as the assistant registrar. They have three children -- Courtney (22), Willie Jr. (10) and Freddie (six).

"Now, the club has a lot of outstanding new players since my time and nobody knows about us old heads anymore."

Burden says the induction ceremonies in Hamilton will be extra special.

"That worked out beautifully. I'll get to see the Stampeders play and do some reminiscing."

While the induction will likely be the highlight of his football career, Burden says it would be hard to replace something that happened to him on a cold November day in 1975 at McMahon Stadium.

"The single most memorable moment of my football career was that day when I set the single-season rushing record. The club brought my mom up and all that. It was a very cold day but believe me, it was a very warm day for me. It's a day I will never forget.

"I had eight wonderful years in Calgary, a lot more than I expected. The great experiences and the lifelong friends I was able to make there, well, I just feel very lucky."

-- statistics --

 

Willie Burden North Carolina State
  Rushing      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1974 Cgy 94 541 5.8 71 3
1975 Cgy 332 1,896 5.7 40 10
1976 Cgy 181 962 5.3 35 7
1977 Cgy 220 1,032 4.7 47 3
1978 Cgy 160 627 3.9 23 2
1979 Cgy 145 658 4.5 19 5
1980 Cgy 87 423 4.9 23 2
1981 Cgy 23 95 4.1 28 0
Total 8 1242 6,234 5.0 71 32

 

  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1974 Cgy 13 106 8.2 25 0
1975 Cgy 36 231 6.4 52 5
1976 Cgy 43 363 8.4 51 2
1977 Cgy 63 611 9.7 42 2
1978 Cgy 31 307 9.9 54 1
1979 Cgy 42 373 8.9 33 3
1980 Cgy 49 495 10.1 51 3
1981 Cgy 22 183 8.3 19 0
Total 8 299 2669 8.9 54 16