Reggie Slack - Quarterback - 1993-1999. 2002 - Auburn
With the build of a linebacker, the fleet feet of a tailback and an arm that could light up a stadium, Reggie Slack was the type of athlete who makes you stop and take notice.
Reggie was a star in college with Auburn he received honourable mention as an All-American leading the Tigers to a career 21-4 record. Drafted in the 12th round by the Houston Oilers. Slack came to the CFL in 1993 after 3 disappointing seasons with the Houston Oiler franchise. He joined Toronto with very raw ability and had some success, lingering knee issues hurt his performance late in the season but the promise of future success was visible with Reggie. In 1994 He split the season between the Argonauts and Hamilton after a mid-season trade. He had success with Hamilton with 8 passing touchdowns including a 102 yarder.
With the CFL expanding in 1995 Reggie signed with Birmingham to rekindle his former collegiate glory. The experiment did not last long and after just 3 games he joined Winnipeg. With Winnipeg Reggie really start to garner attention from across the league as a rising talent. Backing up Sammy Garza, Slack was a crowd favourite. Frequent chants of “Reggie, Reggie” could be heard at Winnipeg Stadium whenever the starter struggled.
The trend continued in 1996 with Slack frequently replacing an ineffective Kent Austin. The Blue Bombers were humiliated by Edmonton 68-7 at an icy Commonwealth Stadium in the Western semi-final. Slack mopped up for Austin but the defeat signalled an overhaul for the franchise and Slack was not in the future plans.
Reggie joined Saskatchewan as a free-agent in 1997 and enjoyed his greatest season as a professional.
In the improbable run to the 1997 Grey Cup with Saskatchewan, Slack grabbed his Roughrider team by the collar, threw the team on his powerful
back and carried the club to a November Grey Cup match-up with the
dominant Toronto Argonauts.
In the West semi-final Saskatchewan faced the heavily favoured Calgary Stampeders. The Roughriders has lost 14 straight contests at McMahon Stadium dating back to the Western final in 1989. Slack was magnificent passing for 278 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 102 with the winning touchdown run with less than a minute remaining in the game. said Slack to Reg Curran of the Canadian Press:
"It was a huge win for us," said Slack. "Coming into this game, we felt we would have an opportunity to win if we came out and played with a lot of emotion, and we did just that."
An injury to Calgary starter Jeff Garcia meant that rookie Dave Dickinson would have to rally the Stampeders. The rookie fell short in a gutsy performance that would foreshadow a succesful career for Dickinson.
In the Western Final Slack was just as dominant rushing for 2 key touchdowns as the Riders squeaked out a 31-30 victory to advance to the franchises first Grey Cup berth since 1989. Said Slack following the victory to the Canadian Press:
"We shocked the world," said Slack. "I don't think anybody gave us a chance. Last week nobody gave us a chance, this week we're going to the Cup."
coach Jim Daley added:
"We just knew by Reggie on the bench (between series in the fourth quarter) that it was going to get done," said Roughriders coach Jim Daley. "There's no panic in the man, there's no panic in our players."
Saskatchewan would be going to the 1997 Grey Cup hosted by Edmonton in Commonwealth Stadium to face the defending champion Toronto Argonauts.
The Riders and Slack were handily defeated by the Doug Flutie led Argonauts in the Grey Cup. The game was a disappointment after a magical run but did include a 55 yard pass and run touchdown from Slack to Mike Saunders.
Slack played two more season in Saskatchewan. the club or Slack did not enjoy a great deal of success and injuries coupled with a substance abuse problem caused Slack to leave the CFL prior to the 200 season.
Reggie returned to the CFL with Toronto in 2002. Slack has bulked up even more and was effective running the quarterback option as well as pocket passing to Derrel Mitchell among his receivers. The Argonauts closed the season with a thrilling 33-32 victory over Calgary to edge into the playoffs. In the win, punctuated by an Antonnious Bonner interception return for a touchdown, Slack threw for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Argonauts defeated Saskatchewan to advance to the Eastern Final versus the Alouettes in Montreal, Slack was forced to leave the contest in the second quarter with a concussion. Toronto would be defeated by the Alouettes in the Eastern Final.
With the signing of Damon Allen prior to the 2003 season, the career for Reggie Slack in Toronto was over. He did spend some limited time with Hamilton before retiring for good.
Reggie Slack was an incredible quarterback with amazing athletic ability. He proved on countless occasions throughout his career he could carry a team single handily to victory with his feet, his arm or his head. From Auburn to Winnipeg to Saskatchewan and Toronto, Slack delighted fans with his ability and left an impression on Canadian Football.
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