He tells me he came to Ottawa in 1962, and his first year with the Rough Riders he was paid $5,000. Every player on the team had another job back then — it was the only way you could survive — and he quickly got hired as a management trainee for R.L. Crain, a business forms company.
When training camp started the next year, the company told him he had to quit football if he wanted to stay in the trainee program. It was time he got serious about his future.
He quit the company instead, mostly because Riders coach Frank Clair was going to give him a shot that year as a wide receiver. If he had stayed as a defensive back, he probably would have made a different decision. Clair’s move turned out to be brilliant.
Over his career, Tucker averaged 22.4 yards a reception — the best mark in CFL history. He turned catches into touchdowns an astonishing 19% of the time. In the 1966 Grey Cup, he had two touchdown receptions, both for more than 60 yards. For the past 41 years — since retiring in 1970 — he has worked as an investment executive, first with BMO Nesbitt Burns, now with RBC Dominion Securities. He has four children and nine grandchildren.
Not surprisingly, Tucker is thrilled with plans to redevelop Lansdowne Park and bring CFL football back to the nation’s capital.
“Unless you were there at the time, it’s hard to understand just how big football used to be in this city,” he says.
“People who say football won’t work in Ottawa, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
“Put a competitive team on the field, and people will come out to the games in droves.”
He also has strong opinions on Friends of Lansdowne, and the various legal challenges to the redevelopment plans, although sadly, they can’t be printed here.Before leaving, I ask Tucker one last time how it felt to be hit by a bus. To have the old football cliche become reality. How did it compare, say, to an Angelo Mosca tackle?
He doesn’t miss a beat:
“I’d like to give you an answer, but I can’t,” he says. “Angie was never fast enough to catch me.”