Perhaps more so than
any other player from the Ottawa Rough Riders of
the 1970’s this hard-nosed middle linebacker
stamped the letter “P” in the word “Punishment”.
Jerry “Soupy” Campbell was the undisputed leader
of the ‘Riders defence, a rough and tumble squad
that justly earned the nick-name “Capital
The rugged defender from The University of Idaho
started his CFL career with the Calgary
Stampeders (1965-68) but was traded to Ottawa
part-way through the ’68 season.
Stampeder head coach Jerry Williams, who played
at Washington State University, was familiar
with Campbell and his college career and talked
him into coming to Calgary.
“A couple of NFL teams had also shown some
interest,” says Campbell, who was given the
moniker “Soupy” while in high school, “but the
money was about the same with Calgary.”
It was with Ottawa however that Campbell became
a CFL star. A team captain, he anchored the
Rough Rider defence for eight seasons (1968-75).
From his second year on he was a league all-star
seven straight years (1969-75).
“To me, being an all-star was a testament to
your defensive line and that I could contribute
to that,” says Campbell.
“In those days you didn’t have a coach telling
you what plays to call. The middle linebacker
called the plays. I watched a lot of film and
studied my butt off. I knew by the way the other
guy put his weight on his fingers to the way he
was leaning what the play was. I just tried to
force them to the end of the line and let our
guys make the tackle.”
”It was cool playing for Ottawa,” says Campbell,
now 65 and living in the Beach area of Toronto.
“We had a lot of great guys and a lot of great
memories. Playing in the nation’s capital we
were the big show. We had players. Wayne Smith,
man he was tough. He came from the East Coast
and didn’t even go to college. He ran like a
panther. And Charlie Brandon. Marshall Shirk, he
was a monster, and Mark Kosmos.”
“Back in those days Canadians were strong,”
Campbell says. “Jackson, Tucker, Racine, Ron
Stewart. These guys even outshined the
Americans. Most of them were backfield people.”
Campbell took on the premiere offensive threats
of his era. “George Reed, I played against him
in college as well,” Campbell says.
“Jim Young, Jim Evenson from B.C., Terry
Evanshan and Johnny Rodgers from Montreal, there
were a lot of great ones. There was a lot more
running back then and that yard off the line of
scrimmage makes a big difference. The backfield
in motion gives the offence a little bit of an
edge as well.”
The toughest aspect of the game for Campbell was
kick-off returns. “Man, kick-off returns,” he
says with a laugh.
“They got about 60 yards to line you up. I’m not
talking about the guy returning the kick; I’m
talking about the big guys coming at you. They
would switch back and come at you sideways.
You’re concentrating on these big guys that are
going to kick your butt. I was knocked out about
three or four times in my career. All on
Campbell played in three Grey Cups for Ottawa
and walked away a winner each time (1968, ’69
“In ’73 we were the best team in the CFL,” he
says. “We had a big backfield and everyone on
that team was big and tough. We had a great
quarterback with Rick Cassata. Everyone was
dedicated. We practiced tough and we stayed in
shape. We had struggled a bit through the
playoffs to get there. The thing is, even if
you’re hurting it’s ‘let’s go’. You play like
it’s your last game. And we did.” The Rough
Riders edged Edmonton 22-18 at CNE Stadium in
Toronto and Campbell earned his third Grey Cup
Campbell returned to Calgary and finished out
his career in 1976.
Jerry “Soupy” Campbell was inducted into the CFL
Hall of Fame in 1996.
”I guess it really was recognition of my
career,” says Campbell,.
“But more so for my teammates. I was honoured to
be there. I was honoured for my teammates as
well. Just to be there. You’ve played against
these guys but you really don’t see them that
often. Now I was going into the Hall of Fame
Campbell’s fellow inductees that year were Dan
Kepley, Al Benecick, Bill Clarke and Frank
During his playing days Campbell was a
substitute teacher in both Calgary and Ottawa
and continued teaching for a time following his
retirement from football. He has owned a number
of bars in the Toronto area including The Black
Bull with former CFL star Bobby Taylor. He is
still a co-owner of Captain Jack’s in Toronto.
Campbell values the time he spends with former
teammate and current host of CBC’s The Fifth
Estate, Bob McKeown. He stays fit walking and
working out with weights and spending time with
Kim, his wife of sixteen years. Campbell is also
an avid golfer who plays to about a 14 handicap.
“I love it,” he says. “I’ve been playing for
about 30 years.”
“Playing in the CFL was crazy,” says the former
Rough Rider star. “It was neat. There is so much
movement every year with players coming and
going. The idea was to stay healthy. Guys are
drilling you. Hitting you. There are lots of
injuries. I just tried to stay healthy.”