Eastern QB Power







The 2012 season has 4 star quarterbacks suiting up in the CFL's Eastern division. Henry Burris has been acquired by the Hamilton Tiger Cats, he brings with him a 2010 Most Outstanding Player Award and a 2009 Grey Cup. Ricky Ray has been acquired by the Toronto Argonauts from the Edmonton Eskimos. Ray has 2 Grey Cup wins in 2003 and 2005. Anthony Calvillo is the all-time leading passer in professional football he has captured 3 Grey Cups and been named Most Outstanding Player 3 times. Buck Pierce has a Grey Cup win with British Columbia and is coming off a trip to the Grey Cup in 2011 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. An impressive line-up and it harkens one back first to 1996 and then 1960.


CFL EAST The return of the quarterbacks Not since 1960, with Rote, Faloney, Jackson and Etcheverry, have such quality pivots dominated the division - Marty York - Globe & Mail 25-05-1996

The year was 1960. John Kennedy was elected U.S. president in a narrow victory over Richard Nixon. Felt-tip pens were invented. The Twist dominated dance floors in Canada and the United States. And Willie Mays had become such a superstar in baseball that he persuaded the San Francisco Giants to pay him all of $85,000.

In the Canadian Football League, meanwhile, the Eastern Division was thriving. Packed stadiums were the norm in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal, primarily because of the teams quarterbacks - Tobin Rote, Bernie Faloney, Russ Jackson and Sam (The Rifle) Etcheverry. Embroiled in an intense rivalry, these three Americans and one Canadian (Jackson) combined to thrill CFL followers in unprecedented fashion.


I lived in Calgary at the time, but I remember even Western Canadians being excited about those four guys in the East,&#34 recalled Greg Fulton, who began with the CFL as a statistician in 1950 and, at 76, still serves the league as its secretary-treasurer.

There was something special about those four Eastern quarterbacks in 1960. It was largely because of those guys that there ended up being a partly interlocking schedule with the Western teams in 1961. Definitely, 1960 sticks out because it was the only year that Rote, Faloney, Jackson and Etcheverry - four of the best quarterbacks in history - all played against each other. There's never been anything quite like that in the East since 1960.

Not until now.


With training camps about to open this week, CFLers are raving about the 1996 collection of quarterbacks in the East.
During the past off-season, Doug Flutie was acquired by Toronto. Matt Dunigan joined Hamilton. David Archer was recruited by Ottawa. And Tracy Ham, who led the Baltimore Stallions to a Grey Cup last season and was chosen the championship games most valuable player, moved together with his team to Montreal, where the Alouettes were reborn after a nine-year absence.




There's a great deal of excitement about the East again, especially because of the four quarterbacks, Fulton said, It's quite clear that they form the finest group of quarterbacks in the East since 1960.

Jackson agreed. At 59 the youngest of the 1960 quartet, he has followed the CFL closely through the decades, and in the past few days has found himself comparing this seasons Eastern QBs with those in the division 36 years ago.

It's funny but I was sitting in the men&#39s lounge of my golf club the other day with a bunch of guys and it came up that Flutie, Dunigan, Archer and Ham are probably the best quarterbacks in the East since 1960, said Jackson, a retired school principal who lives in Mississauga, Ont. I thought about it, and you know what? I couldn't argue. I'm sure it's the truth.

Of the four quarterbacks in the East in 1960, Jackson attracted the least fanfare. That's the way it usually was - and still is - with Canadian quarterbacks in the CFL. Only injuries to other QBs, in fact, prompted Rough Riders head coach Frank Clair to establish Jackson as his starting quarterback.

Jackson progressed well, history shows, and ultimately sparked the Riders to the Grey Cup championship in 1960. But not before some memorable clashes with his fellow QBs in the East.

All four remember those clashes as if they occurred yesterday. They categorize their styles in identical fashion. The consensus: Jackson's success was in rolling out and taking advantage of his talented teammates, such as Ronnie Stewart. Faloney threw footballs end- over-end, but they managed to reach their destination. And he was a hard- nosed son-of-a-gun who would lower his shoulder to make an extra inch. Etcheverry's arm strength was unequalled. Rote was the classic drop-back passer who, the other three believe, never quite understood Canadian football.

The four can describe plays from 1960 as readily as they can recite the names of their children.

It was the rivalry, recalled Faloney, who at 63 runs a successful machinery- and equipment-rental business in Hamilton. There was a personal challenge for us like there never was in any other year. Going head to head against Jackson, for instance, made me better and I probably made him better.

Faloney said he especially psyched himself for games against Rote, who had jumped to the Argonauts from the National Football Leagues Detroit Lions just before the 1960 season. Toronto had offered him $10,000 more. Rote was the CFL's best-paid player in 1960 with a stipend of $35,000.

Tobin was a bit standoffish and he had come in with the big billing, said Faloney, who was paid $22,000 in 1960. I remember (former Tiger-Cats head coach) Jim Trimble telling me that Rote was nothing special, that he put his pants on the same way I did. Trimble was a great coach and I appreciated what he was saying, but I wanted to knock Tobin's pants off just the same.

Of the four Eastern QBs in 1960, Rote undoubtedly was the most enigmatic. After he quit the Argos before the 1963 season, he never attended another CFL game. Why not? Because I never wanted to, he said.
Unlike Jackson, Faloney and Etcheverry - all CFL Hall of Famers who remained in Canada, coached CFL teams at times and remained undaunted in their support of the league - Rote views himself as a National Football Leaguer who briefly interrupted his career with a stint in Canada.
But, don't get me wrong, Rote said from his home in Michigan, where at 68 he is retired as a marketing executive and recovering from an operation in which he received an artificial left knee. A lot of those guys (in the CFL) were tough bastards.
And I won't lie to you. Faloney, Etcheverry and Jackson brought the best out in me, that's for sure. I can remember people saying that Etcheverry had the best arm in the CFL and I wanted badly to prove that I could throw better than him. And then I went out and threw more touchdown passes against Montreal that year than I had thrown against all teams combined in some years. I think I threw 28 touchdown passes against Montreal in 1960.

Rote shouldn't be so quick to take the credit for his success against Montreal, according to Etcheverry.
It didn't take much to tear our defence apart in 1960,' recalled Etcheverry, who at 63 manages an investment firm in Montreal and recently purchased season's tickets for the Alouettes' games. 'Tobin was right on target against us, but the truth is that we had a new coaching staff (the head coach was Perry Moss) and he wanted to implement the zone defence for the first time. Our guys didn't know what they were doing. Tobin just blew us right out of the stadium.

Rote, who was raised in Houston and still speaks with a Texas drawl, admitted that he never understood the CFL's strange rules and idiosyncrasies.

I still don't understand what a goddamn rouge is, he said. Sometimes, we'd lose games up there and I didn't know why. The other team would kick a ball somewhere and, it wasn't a field goal or anything, and next thing I know, they'd get points for it.




Me? All I wanted to do in Toronto was pass the football and give it to guys like (Dick) Shatto and beat the hell out of Faloney and those other guys.

Well, that's not really all Rote wanted to do in Toronto. The man had built quite a reputation as something of a party animal, too.
Yeah, I know, he said, but there were some good reasons for that. My family was in Michigan and there was never anything for me to do on our days off. So I'd have Shatto and the guys over at my place and we partied. You see, I had some deals with Molson's, the beer people, and part of my agreement with them was that I got some free cases of beer. So the guys would come to my place all the time and we'd drink lots of free beer. Because I was the one who provided the beer, I got classified as the guy who liked to party a lot.

Funny, but I guess it was true. I like to party. And I liked to hang out with the guys.
Ironically, the Argos new quarterback was criticized heavily recently by members of his previous team, the Calgary Stampeders, for being distant with his teammates. With only a couple of exceptions, he never invited any of them to his home in Calgary. And his teammates complained that, despite his bulky salary, he was not nearly as benevolent as quarterbacks traditionally tend to be, especially with their offensive linemen.


I've heard of Flutie, Rote said. Is he any good?
Faloney, Jackson and Etcheverry all agree that, yes, Flutie is good. You get the impression, however, that they may have a tad more respect for Dunigan. Dunigan is probably the only one of the four (contemporary QBs in the East) who could have played in the CFL in our day, Faloney said. He would be the only one tough enough to handle the way quarterbacks played back then.

Flutie can run well, but he would get hurt. The game has changed, because back in 1960 quarterbacks had to keep running, even into a linebacker, if it meant getting an additional yard or two. Now the quarterbacks slide into third base and make sure they aren't contacted. Or they run out of bounds. No quarterbacks ever ran out of bounds deliberately back then. You had to run and run hard to get every inch. You didn't even think twice about that back then, he said.
And, frankly, I liked the game then more, because if you lowered your shoulder and got that extra yard you felt great, a lot better than you do when you slide for safety, believe me.

But these four guys in the East this year will put on some good shows, I'm sure. They're fine athletes. Archer's a very good passer. Ham's a winner, too.

Etcheverry and Jackson agree that CFL quarterbacks were appreciated by Canadians more in the old days because they didn't switch teams as often. Hamilton will be Dunigan's sixth CFL team since joining the Edmonton Eskimos in 1984. Archer, Flutie and Ham will be with their third CFL teams.

Fans loved to support the teams in our day because they knew us, Etcheverry said. We seldom, if ever, switched teams. Russ played his whole career in Ottawa. I was in Montreal my whole career. But guys like Dunigan move around so much that you lose track of them. Where is Dunigan now, anyway?

Jackson senses that Dunigan signed with the Ticats primarily because of his desire to outshine Flutie in the East.
I believe that Dunigan is absolutely driven by a rivalry against Flutie, Jackson said. I think he has a desire to prove that he, not Flutie, is the best quarterback in the CFL. He's driven by personal ambition and rivalry.

But I don't think that's bad at all. I think that's actually a positive. I think there's more stability in the CFL right now than there has been in a long time and I think fans will enjoy a good Eastern rivalry involving some very good quarterbacks.

Just like 1960.


In the 1996 season Doug Flutie would lead the Argonauts to a 15-3 record and a Grey Cup victory over Edmonton. The Argonauts also defeated Tracy Ham's Alouettes in the Eastern final at Toronto's Skydome. Matt Dunigan would take Hamilton to a 4-2 start before a concussion would end his career. David Archer would battle through a bankrupt season in Ottawa finishing with a 4-12 record.



Note: Post-season statistics not included. Estimated base salary.

Russ Jackson

Team: Ottawa

CFL Years: 1958-69

Salary: $12,500

Pass attempts: 2,530

Pass completions: 1,356

Yards passing: 24,592

Number of carries: 738

Yards rushing: 5,045


David Archer

Team: Ottawa

CFL Years: 1993-98

Salary: $720,000

Pass attempts: 1,549

Pass completions: 894

Yards passing: 13,834

Number of carries: 101

Yards rushing: 443


Buck Pierce

Team: Winnipeg CFL

Years: 2005-

Salary: $250,000

Pass attempts: 1,592

Pass completions: 1,033

Yards passing: 13,162

Number of carries: 209

Yards rushing: 1,576

Bernie Faloney

Team: Hamilton CFL

Years: 1954; 1957-67

Salary: $22,000

Pass attempts: 2,876

Pass completions: 1,493

Yards passing: 24,264

Number of carries: 694

Yards rushing: 2,806 


Matt Dunigan

 Team: Hamilton

CFL Years: 1983-96

Salary: $450,000

Pass attempts: 5,265

Pass completions: 2,943

Yards passing: 42,132

Number of carries: 830

Yards rushing: 4,873


Henry Burris

Team: Hamilton CFL

Years: 1998-

Salary: $350,000

Pass attempts: 4,821

Pass completions: 2,908

Yards passing: 41,235

Number of carries: 720

Yards rushing: 4,392

Sam Etcheverry

Team: Montreal

CFL Years: 1952-60

Salary: $18,000

Pass attempts: 2,829

Pass completions: 1,630

Yards passing: 25,582

Number of carries: 500

Yards rushing: 1,481 


Tracy Ham

Team: Montreal

CFL Years: 1987-99

Salary: $430,000

Pass attempts: 3,649

Pass completions: 1,874

Yards passing: 29,092

Number of carries: 804

Yards rushing: 6,266


Anthony Calvillo

Team: Montreal CFL

Years: 1994-

Salary: $450,000

Pass attempts: 8,686

Pass completions: 5,444

Yards passing: 73,412

Number of carries: 657

Yards rushing: 3,507


Tobin Rote

Team: Toronto CFL

Years: 1960-62

Salary: $35,000

Pass attempts: 1,187

Pass completions: 662

Yards passing: 9,872

Number of carries: 79

Yards rushing: 238


Doug Flutie

Team: Toronto

CFL Years: 1990-97

Salary: $1-million

Pass attempts: 3,504

Pass completions: 2,111

Yards passing: 30,130

Number of carries: 511

Yards rushing: 3,362


Ricky Ray

Team: Toronto CFL

Years: 2002-

Salary: $400,000

Pass attempts: 4,827

Pass completions: 3,225

Yards passing: 40,531

Number of carries: 521

Yards rushing: 2,752

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