Harrington - Defensive End/Guard - 1963-65, 67-71, 74 - Langston
Argos to honour Ed Harringotn - Steve
Simmons - Toronto
The telephone call interrupted his
workout. Ed Harrington, 34 years after his retirement from football,
not far from his 70th birthday, is still lifting weights.
"Three or four times a week," said the man they used to call
Hercules. "I had major surgery last year. I lost a lot of weight, a
lot of strength. Slowly, I'm getting it back, I'm gaining and
The best of the recovery comes on Sunday. After all these years,
Harrington, a gentle man who was a vicious, intense football player,
will be honoured at Rogers Centre as an All-Time Argo. He will join
those he played with - Dick Shatto, Danny Nykoluk, Bill Symons, Jim
Corrigall, Marv Luster, Jim Rountree, Dave Mann, Jim Stillwagon -
with a 500 Level likeness, a ceremony, and the opportunity to be
"When I think of Ed Harrington, I think of a tenacious, aggressive
football player who had all the tools on the field and an absolute
gentleman off the field," said Leo Cahill, who coached Harrington
with both the Toronto Rifles and the Toronto Argonauts. "I'm just so
happy he's being honoured now. It's richly deserved."
To those of us old enough to remember, Harrington was an Argo
defensive end (and before that, offensive guard) who couldn't avoid
the spotlight. Partly because of his play. And partly because of his
penchant to find himself in the midst of controversy. He says he
played the game hard. Others might use the term filthy.
Harrington's on-field feud with Montreal quarterback Sonny Wade is
the stuff of legends (pictured above #64 & #14). The more people you
ask about it, the more versions the stories have.
"We played a game in Montreal and Peter Martin was the outside
linebacker who played right behind me," said Harrington. "There was
a point in the game when I threw Sonny Wade for a loss, and I guess
I threw him a little too hard, and Peter overheard Sonny making a
A racial epitaph of some kind.
"I didn't hear it. Peter heard it. But it got in the papers. And the
next week, we played against Montreal and I hit Sonny Wade real
hard. And everything got blown out of proportion."
That's the way it was then with the Argonauts, before there were
Blue Jays, before there were Raptors and TFC, when Toronto was a
two-sport town: Maple Leafs in the winter; Argos in the summer and
fall. One team was as important as the other.
And the men who played for the Argos became household names. The way
Ed Harrington became household.
The Sonny Wade incident took place in the 1969 season. The following
year wouldn't be any calmer for Harrington.
"We were playing a game in Ottawa and Gary Wood was their
quarterback, and I guess I hit him a little hard," said Harrington.
"I think I might have knocked him out. I know I knocked him out of
the game. The commissioner (Jake Gaudaur) didn't like that."
"I think he got ejected from that game and suspended from the next
game," said Cahill. "We play the next game and Ed isn't allowed to
even sit on our bench. The commissioner won't allow it. So Ed's up
in the stands somewhere. And when the game ended, he was waving at
me, and I said to him, 'Come down here.' And he came down from the
stands and in front of everybody we presented him with the game ball
(see photo above). I didn't get many cheers from the commissioner's
office when that happened - but the fans loved it."
"The fans stayed in the stands and gave me an ovation," said
Harrington. "The players hoisted me to their shoulders. It showed
how they felt about the efforts I had given on behalf of the team.
You don't ever forget things like that ...
"I guess I played football as hard as I could. That's the way I
played (on the offensive and defensive lines). It wasn't how I lived
When he played for the Argos, and before that the Toronto Rifles,
and after his football career, Harrington, a native of Oklahoma, has
always been about helping people. His on-field image had nothing to
do with his off-field contributions. In his Argo days, he worked
with kids who needed help. In his later years, he retired after
years working as a patient advocate at the North Bay Psychiatric
"Even in university, I did volunteer work with kids," he said. "It
was just something that interested me."
On Sunday, he gets to take a few bows at the age of 69, mostly for
an audience that never saw him play. His wife, Terryl, will be with
him, some friends, some ex-teammates, some ex-coaches will be along
to enjoy the ride. He played 12 seasons in Toronto, 10 for the
Argos, two for the defunct Rifles, also coached by Cahill.
"I never thought about awards or things like this," said Ed
Harrington, who made the trip in from Field, Ont., halfway between
North Bay and Sudbury. "But I'm very excited and very appreciative.
I never expected anything like this to happen to me."