Saskatchewan Roughriders

Jeff Fairholm - Receiver - 1988-93 - Arizona


Jeff Fairholm a Montreal native was the 2nd overall selection in the 1988 CFL amateur draft. The speedy receiever had a strong pedigree having attended the University of Arizona. He would go on to have a terrific career posting some eye-popping totals with Kent Ausint slinging footballs in his direction specifically from 1991-93.


Fairholm would spend the final 3 seasons of his career with the Toronto Argonauts and play his last game midway through the 1996 season succumbing to injury. The 1996 season would be a championship season for Jeff to go along with his 1989 Grey Cup with Saskatchewan

Fond memories of Grey Cup victory - Leader-Post November 22, 2007

Jeff Fairholm has some deep thoughts about the 1989 Grey Cup. As a deep threat, Fairholm helped the Saskatchewan Roughriders win that classic championship contest. he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Kent Austin -- who is now Saskatchewan's head coach -- in a 43-40 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto's SkyDome (now Rogers Centre). Fairholm’s fondest recollection was not documented in the statistics.

“The one thing, actually, was after the game,’’ Fairholm says from Montreal. “My brother (Randy) and I have never been really, really close, but after the game on TV, there was a picture captured of my brother and I in a very strong embrace. To me, that’s the one personal memory that I remember best — him coming down on to the field and just saying, ‘Hey, we’ve done this together.’ And I’ve still got that picture. Someone took a picture of it off the TV.

“The other thing, from a football perspective … the touchdown was fantastic, but it’s just the whole environment. One thing I wish I

could do over again was really take it in more. It was only my second year, so I was still kind of a rookie. I wish I could just do it again and slow it down and really be involved in the whole thing again.’’

Given his desire to relive the experience, how many times has he watched the tape of the Grey Cup telecast?

“You know what’s funny? I’ve never watched it,’’ Fairholm says with a chuckle. “My son was watching a DVD from his (minor football) championship game. I joked with him and said, ‘Will you throw that away? Go put Daddy’s on.’ He said, ‘You have one?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He

said, ‘I want to watch it.’ I said, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want to watch it.’ I don’t know why, but I’ve never watched it.’’

But he did come close a couple of weeks ago.

“My wife went down to try to find it for Josh, but she couldn’t find it,’’ Fairholm continues. “I think she just had to dig a little bit more. I’ve got one, but I’ve never watched it, for whatever reason. I don’t know why. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s just funny with me. I guess I just want to keep the memories in my head instead of watching on TV.’’

What other memories does he cherish?

“Tons,’’ Fairholm states. “I was really looking forward to the airport when we landed in Regina. I was really looking forward to all the people there. We got out and there was, like, 100 people. I was expecting 100,000. Nobody had told us what was going on when they took us over to the stadium.

“That was special when we walked out on the field. The whole west side of the stands was packed with people and it was cold. I remember that very well. I remember that my neighbourhood had changed the street signs from Rae Street to Fairholm Street within a three-block radius. I remember not buying a drink for two straight weeks. There were tons of fun things. The whole place was up in arms. It was great.’’

And, according to some people, unexpected.

The Roughriders had finished the 1989 regular season in third place in the West Division with a 9-9 record. After defeating the host Calgary Stampeders 33-26 in the West semifinal, the Roughriders proceeded to play the Edmonton Eskimos — who had amassed a league-record 16 regular-season victories.

Edmonton was widely expected to win, but the Roughriders had other ideas. Saskatchewan shocked the Eskimos 32-21 in the West final at Commonwealth Stadium.

“We peaked at the right time,’’ Fairholm says. “We had a lot of injuries that year and everyone got healthy at that time. We made the plays when the plays had to happen. There was nothing lucky about it. We made the playoffs. We did what we had to do. Everyone contributed.

“That’s one thing that our team had. You look at the contributions of guys like Brian Walling, James Ellingson, Rob Bresciani, Jeff Treftlin and Jeff Bentrim. We were so decimated by injuries that (Bentrim, a quarterback) was actually playing slotback and contributing.

“You can call it luck all you want, but you’ve got to have a certain amount of depth and team spirit in order to get through all of that, and we did. Mark Guy … remember the catches Mark had? It was remarkable how every single person on that team — whether they were second, third, fourth or 15th string — contributed in one way, shape or form that year, and in the playoffs when it matters.’’

Tom Burgess, for example, was pressed into duty during the second quarter of the West final after Austin injured a knee. Burgess kept the Roughriders’ momentum alive by throwing touchdown passes to Fairholm and Ray Elgaard.

“If it wasn’t for Tommy, we would never have been in the Grey Cup,’’ Fairholm says.

But once the Roughriders got to the Grey Cup, head coach John Gregory opted to start Austin against the Tiger-Cats. The wisdom of that decision was confirmed when Austin threw for 474 yards and three touchdowns en route to being named the game’s most valuable player.

“When they said it was Kent’s start and not Tommy’s, we just kind of went with it,’’ Fairholm says. “We all knew that Kent would be the guy to take us there because he was such a big-game quarterback.

“You look at the other big games, like all the Labour Days. The first time an American team came in, with Sacramento, remember how much fun that was and how great a game Kent had that day?

“He was just a big-game quarterback. I wouldn’t want anybody else in the huddle other than him, because I knew he would be prepared and I knew he would do his job. We knew that.’’

How did Austin convey that impression?

“He was a born leader, even though he was 26 and a guy like Roger Aldag was 100,’’ Fairholm reflects. “It didn’t matter. Kent was our leader. There’s no question about it.

“Kent commanded that leadership. He had already earned it, but he commanded it. Even though he was young, he was a leader and still is. Look at what he’s done this year.’’

As a first-year head coach, Austin is preparing to lead the Roughriders into battle in another league final — Sunday’s collision with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Rogers Centre.

“With the Grey Cup in Toronto, who knows?’’ Fairholm says. “Maybe karma is on their side.’’


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-- statistics --

Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1988 Ssk 45 833 19 79 10
1989 Ssk 45 893 20 73 11
1990 Ssk 34 471 14 107 4
1991 Ssk 70 1,239 18 99 13
1992 Ssk 74 1,344 18 76 6
1993 Ssk 72 1,391 19 78 9
1994 Tor 29 599 21 85 3
1995 Tor 43 477 11 35 1
1996 Tor 14 218 16 30 1
Total 9 426 7,465 18 94 58