Edmonton Eskimos

Neil Lumsden - Fullback - 1976-85 - Ottawa

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- excerpted - Rob Malich - Toronto Argonauts website1996-online bio-

Born in London, Ontario, Neil Lumsden would make his mark in the football communities of Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Edmonton before he hung up the cleats.  Neil's foray into the game began at Northern Secondary School in Toronto, where a coach noticed his size, athleticism and kicking skills on the soccer pitch before convincing him to hit the gridiron.

As a freshman at the University of Ottawa, Neil started as both running back and kicker.  His successful career as a Gee-Gee was highlighted by three OUA All-Star and three All-Canadian designations, a Vanier Cup victory as a member of the undefeated 1975 team, and the Ted Morris trophy as the Vanier Cup MVP. 

Highlights for Lumsden with Ottawa include a five-touchdown performance on November 1, 1975 vs. Queens as well as 9 converts for Ottawa on September 28, 1975 vs. McGill. As a bruising fullback and kicker Neil still holds the CIS All-Time Scoring Record with 410 points.

Neil joined the Toronto Argonauts in 1976 and went on to have an outstanding rookie season for the Argos, gaining 412 yards on 85 rushes and earning the Frank Gibson Trophy as the CFL East's top rookie.

"The best thing for me was that Anthony Davis got hurt and went down, and it gave the fullback the opportunity to carry the ball," said Lumsden, who remembers the great fan support all the eastern teams received during that time. "In all the places, it was great. I remember being in Montreal in front of 67,000 people and not being able to hear yourself think."

 

"Lumpy" went on to have an even better sophomore season, leading the team in rushing with 680 yards on 145 carries.

 

After playing sporadically the next year, Lumsden was traded to Hamilton in 1979 before being dealt to Edmonton in 1980. In Edmonton he was a significant part of the great Eskimo dynasty of the late '70's and early '80's, being a member of three of the five straight Grey Cup winning teams winning the Most Outstanding Canadian in the 1981 championship. In the 1981 victory over Ottawa Lumsden had 8 catches for 91 yards as the Eskimos completed a dramatic comeback in the second half over the surprising Rough Riders.

 

Lumsden was invaluable for Edmonton at fullback providing timely blocks against blitzing defenders for quarterbacks Warren Moon and then Matt Dunigan.

 

Lumsden retired from football in 1985. Lumsden returned to CFL circles in 1987 as a commentator with the now-defunct Canadian Football Network, a position he held until 1990. Lumsden was a colour commentator, combining with Dave Hodge to form one of the most well respected broadcast duos in CFL memory.

 

"I really liked the broadcasting part; I had a lot of fun," said Lumsden, who has now done it all in football: playing, broadcasting and managing. "But there's nothing like playing; nothing can compare to competing on the field."

In 1992, Lumsden became the director of sales for the Ottawa Rough Riders before heading to Hamilton in 1993 as its vice-president of marketing and sales.

As director of business operations Neil Lumsden was one of the key individuals responsible for the survival and ultimate resurrection of a Tiger-Cat football club that was as good as buried in the fall of 1994. A massive ticket campaign that brought season tickets from 3,100 to 12,000, combined with an improved atmosphere at Ivor Wynne Stadium and the awarding of the 1996 Grey Cup to Steeltown, helped the Ti-Cats remain an integral part of the Hamilton community.

Neil resigned from the Tiger Cats in 2000 after capturing the Grey Cup as General Manager in 1999. Lumsden is still active with the CFL as a CFL analyst for Sportsnet.

 

-- statistics --

 

 

Neil Lumsden   Ottawa  
  Rushing      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1976 Tor 85 412 4.8 36 3
1977 Tor 145 677 4.7 33 3
1978 Tor 12 48 4.0 9 1
Ham 47 268 5.7 58 0
1979 Ham 99 438 4.4 16 5
1980 Edm 114 566 5.0 19 4
1981 Edm 58 266 4.6 31 3
1982 Edm 56 223 4.0 17 0
1983 Edm 64 254 4.0 26 5
1984 Edm 92 402 4.4 18 8
1985 Edm 45 201 4.5 36 4
Total 10 817 3,755 4.6 58 36

 

 

  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1976 Tor 8 98 12.3 28 1
1977 Tor 20 144 7.2 24 1
1978 Tor 3 7 2.3 8 0
Ham 15 158 10.5 50 0
1979 Ham 21 142 6.8 21 3
1980 Edm 17 252 14.8 36 1
1981 Edm 21 185 8.8 18 4
1982 Edm 20 285 14.3 44 4
1983 Edm 23 249 10.8 36 0
1984 Edm 25 155 6.2 22 0
1985 Edm 7 54 7.7 21 1
Total 10 180 1,729 9.6 50 15