Montreal Concordes

Denny Ferdinand - 1982-84 - Montreal Alouette Jr's

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Todd Saelhof - Ottawa Sun - 2002

Denny Ferdinand touched the lives of many people both on and off the football field.

That was apparent yesterday during a celebration of his life at Holy Redeemer Parish. The former CFL running back's life was cut short Tuesday, when he died of a heart attack while helping prepare a meal for his family in his Kanata residence.

Ferdinand had just turned 40 and was considered in phenomenal physical shape.

"Everyone has a talent, and Denny's talent was to shower people with love," said his father, Dunbar, delivering a eulogy to a crowd of about 800 friends, family and former teammates gathered to pay their respects to Ferdinand.

Ferdinand leaves behind three boys -- Cedric, Tristan and Justin -- and his wife Alexia, who is expecting twins.

"He would want us to live, love and laugh," said his sister Debra. "He was playfully aggressive, but he had a gentle touch."

Over eight CFL seasons, teammates felt his touch -- a lighthearted one -- as well.

"He always had a smile and had one of those hearty laughs," recalled Joe Paopao, a teammate of Ferdinand's for two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. "He was a happy-go-lucky guy.

"Short of calling him a prankster, he kept the guys in the locker-room loose," said Paopao, now coach of the expansion Renegades. "And he kept his family loose. But he always knew when to keep it serious."

Ferdinand was born in Trinidad in 1962 and came to Canada in '67. Growing up in Montreal, he excelled at hockey, handball, soccer and track and field, but football was his calling and the Montreal Concordes signed him to a contract at age 18.

He went on to play three seasons in Montreal ('82-84) and four with the Roughriders ('85-88) before rounding out his career with the Rough Riders ('89). In '83, Ferdinand won the Lew Hayman Trophy as the Most Outstanding Canadian in the East Division. Ferdinand, who retired to become a professional fashion designer, finished his football career with 2,346 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.

"He played with a warrior's edge," said his brother, Darrin, during the family eulogy.

"He ran like a deer," Paopao said. "He was an explosive runner. He had the ability to take it to the house -- what we call going and scoring when we needed it."
 

- statistics --

 

 

Denny Ferdinand   Alouette (jr)
  Rushing      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1982 Mtl 52 231 4.4 18 0
1983 Mtl 102 603 5.9 34 5
1984 Mtl 42 157 3.7 11 0
1985 Ssk 56 289 5.2 50 1
1986 Ssk 112 572 5.1 33 2
1987 Ssk 12 55 4.6 16 0
1988 Ssk 85 425 5.0 36 1
1989 Ott 12 14 1.2 4 2
Total 8 421 2,115 5.0 50 11

 

  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1982 Mtl 3 7 2.3 14 0
1983 Mtl 8 128 16.0 43 0
1984 Mtl 8 68 8.5 26 0
1985 Ssk 20 243 12.2 45 0
1986 Ssk 29 277 9.6 28 0
1987 Ssk 4 17 4.3 7 0
1988 Ssk 10 72 7.2 22 0
1989 Ott 10 26 2.6 10 0
Total 8 89 831 9.3 45 0