Calgary Stampeders

Wayne Harris - Linebacker - 1961-72 - University of Arkansas

 

Wayne Harris #55 from the University of Arkansas is a Canadian Football Legend. He spent his entire 12 season career with the Calgary Stampeders anchoring the middle linebacker position. He revolutionized how the position was played with his speed and ferocious tackling ability. With the nickname “Thumper” Harris won an incredible 4 Most Outstanding Defensive Player Awards his first in 1965 others would follow in 1966, 1970 and 1971.

 

In the 1971 Grey Cup game the Stampeders faced the heavily favoured Toronto Argonauts and the high priced talent of Joe Theismann, Leon McQuay among others. On a slick Empire Stadium field the defence from Calgary would shut down the vaunted Argonaut attack and go on to a 14-11 victory. Harris was named the games outstanding player and considers the Grey Cup championship the culmination of his career.

 

The native of Hampton, Arkansas would see his career come to an abrupt end when he suffered a serious neck injury midway through the 1972 season. The “Thumper” would be forced to retire but he would leave in his wake a legacy of excellence and incredible tackles.

 

In 2009, Harris was voted by the fans of Calgary in a poll by the Calgary Sun as the Greatest Stampeder of all time beating out such notables as Willie Burden and Doug Flutie. It was a testament to the legacy he left behind that 27 years after his last game he is still remembered for his accomplishments with the team.

 

excerpt - Harris Top Stampeder - Calgary Sun - Ian Busby

"Football is something I really enjoyed and I would do it again. It's a long time ago when I played, so to be still remembered is great."

 

While Burris is the face of the franchise for the past five years, Harris was that for more than a decade.

 

He wasn't big for his position, standing 6-ft., 200-lb. at his peak while playing, but that didn't stop Harris from doing his job with authority.

 

"Back in my high school days, one of the coaches there was referring to my hitting. He said you could hear the thumps all the way up in the pressbox," Harris explained with complete modesty.

 

"I went out and played the best I could. I think I did as well as any linebacker could do for the size I am. I never worried about being the best or anything."