Calgary Stampeders

James Sykes - Running Back - 1978-83 - Rice

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A CFL rushing star of the early ’80s, Sykes was a treat to watch - George Johnson - Calgary Herald - 27-05-2014

From his home in Waverly, Texas, James Sykes felt as shaken as if he'd only just been blindsided by Dave (Dr. Death) Fennell or met in the hole by an even-more-than-usual out-of-sorts Danny Kepley.

"Surprising?" exclaimed the twotime CFL rushing champ.

"Hell, yeah. I'll say. After all these years. I thought people had forgot about me up there.

A soft chuckle. "I guess I was wrong.

"I was at a coaching clinic for basketball when I got the call. It was kind of shocking. The guy said 'This is Stan.. .' And I'm thinking 'Stan WHO?!' Oh, Stan SCHWARTZ. Man. .. "I'd just finishing talking to a friend of mine in San Francisco. I hadn't seen him in a while, either. Then a couple hours later I got the call from Calgary and I thought 'What a day!' A great thing for me.

"I was just remembering back to those years. Larry Key was at B.C. then and we'd always be talking about which one of us was the real No. 11. That was one of the highlights for me, competing against him for the rushing title in the West for three years or so. That was a treat."

Watching Sykes lug the football was also a joy. A CFL all-star in '78 and '80, the league's leading rusher in '80 and '81, in six seasons clad in red and white he delivered more than 10,000 total yards.

James Sykes, the man who replaced the iconic Willie Burden as Calgary's signature back, was one of four ex-Stampeder players among six - the others being offensive lineman Jamie Crysdale and Ron Allbright along with defensive sack master Stu Laird - announced as the newest McMahon Stadium Wall of Fame honorees.

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Sykes a native of Waverly Texas is a member of the Rice football hall of fame. He was a 10th round pick of the Washington Redskins in 1977 and came north to Calgary in 1978 where star back Willie Burden was winding down a prolific career.

 

It is a testament to Sykes’ ability that Hall-of-Famer Willie Burden accepted a supporting role in the Calgary offence in order to allow the Rice University alum to become the Stamps’ feature back. Sykes delivered by producing more 10,000 total yards in his six-year career in Calgary. He was a CFL all-star in 1978 and 1980 and the league’s rushing champion in 1980 and 1981. He turned in four 1,000-yard rushing seasons with Calgary and scored double-digit rushing touchdowns in three separate seasons including a then-club record of 13 in 1978.

 

Sykes had 5,361 rushing yards, 225 receptions for 2,224 yards, 2,028 kickoff-return yards, 485 punt-return yards and 49 total touchdowns for the Stamps before finishing his CFL career in Winnipeg. He won the Stampeders’ Presidents’ Ring in 1978 and 1980.

 

-- statistics --

 

 

James Sykes     Rice
  Rushing      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1978 Cgy 204 1020 5.0 31 13
1979 Cgy 151 703 4.7 38 5
1980 Cgy 222 1263 5.7 75 10
1981 Cgy 240 1107 4.6 68 6
1982 Cgy 193 1046 5.4 84 11
1983 Cgy 37 222 6.0 24 0
Wpg 12 62 5.2 15 0
1986 Wpg 97 447 4.6 57 3
Total 8 1,156 5,870 5.1 84 48

 

  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1978 Cgy 50 614 12.3 62 1
1979 Cgy 31 269 8.7 25 1
1980 Cgy 57 582 10.2 72 1
1981 Cgy 51 495 9.7 65 0
1982 Cgy 27 222 8.2 19 0
1983 Cgy 9 42 4.7 18 0
Wpg 0 0 0.0 0 0
1986 Wpg 10 62 6.2 14 2
Total 8 235 2,286 9.7 72 5

 

    Kick Return  
Yr Team No Yds Avg Lg TD
1978 Cgy 20 496 24.8 36 0
1979 Cgy 5 96 19.2 22 0
1980 Cgy 30 715 23.8 61 0
1981 Cgy 25 594 23.8 45 0
1982 Cgy 6 122 20.3 25 0
Total 8 86 2,023 23.5 75 0

 

    Punt Return    
Yr Team No Yds Avg Lg TD
1978 Cgy 21 241 11.5 67 0
1979 Cgy 3 27 9.0 16 0
1980 Cgy 18 217 12.1 33 0
Total 8 42 485 11.5 13 0