Edmonton Eskimos

Hugh Campbell - Head Coach 1977-82 - General Manager - 1986-1997

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Canadian Sports Hall of Fame

Hugh Campbell could fit every finger with a Grey Cup ring.

A gifted receiver with a mind for the game, the American-born Campbell carved out a sparkling career in the Canadian Football League that saw him excel as a player, head coach and executive.

In his various roles, Campbell collected 10 Grey Cup wins. He’s best known for guiding the Edmonton Eskimos to a record five straight titles from 1978 through 1982 as the team’s head coach. Campbell was also the architect behind Edmonton championships in 1987, 1993, 2003 and 2005 when he served as the Eskimos boss under the titles of general manager, president and CEO. During his 33 seasons in the CFL, he went to 17 Grey Cup games.

Campbell took pride in consistency. “I know I was motivated to try to have Edmonton always be a factor, to be knocking at the door,” said Campbell, 68, who retired as Edmonton’s president and CEO in 2006.

Campbell was born and raised in Saratoga, a town just west of San Jose, Calif., and went on to play at Washington State. His first glimpse of the CFL came when he was still in college. He travelled to Vancouver to watch a former teammate who made the B.C. Lions as a quarterback.

He immediately fell in love with the wide-open style. “I watched the quickness of both teams and thought this was something I’d like to do.” He joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1963 and a Regina sportswriter soon tagged him with the nickname ‘Gluey Hughy’ for his catching ability. Campbell helped the Roughriders to a Grey Cup in 1966.

But it was as a coach that he made his most memorable mark. In his first year in 1977, he led the Eskimos to the Grey Cup game. Edmonton lost 41-6 to the Montreal Alouettes at Olympic Stadium, but rebounded the next year to beat Montreal 20-13 in the final in Toronto. That was the beginning of a dynasty.

During his six seasons as coach, Campbell amassed an overall record of 81-22-5. In winning the Grey Cup five straight times, the Eskimos managed to go 10-0 in playoff games. “We all depended on each other,” Campbell said. “There wasn’t any one person.

“I think that’s why we were able to have success in consecutive years.”