Ottawa Rough Riders

Whit Tucker - Recevier - 1961-70 - Western

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excerpt CFL.ca - Alan Christie - July 29, 2009

While Jackson was a superb passer and great running quarterback, he also had great receivers to work with, including Whit Tucker, another Canadian kid from Windsor who played for the Rough Riders from 1962 until 1970.

Tucker, still active in the investment business at 68 years of age, remembers how hard Jackson threw. “When you did a 15-yard curl-in he could almost knock you out because of the velocity of the ball,” Tucker recalled.

Ironically, Tucker’s first CFL pass reception came off the arm of Lancaster, not Jackson.

Tucker was a 170-pound strong safety and was thrown into the game on offence by Clair. “Ronnie hit me for a 50-60 yard completion, my first touchdown pass as a player.”

Tucker still has the record for the best yards per catch over a career (22.4 yards), slightly higher than former Rough Rider star Bobby Simpson – another University of Windsor grad.

Tucker has a lot of great memories, but his first Grey Cup in

Whit Tucker   Western  
  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1962 Ott 3 83 27.7 56 1
1963 Ott 41 967 23.6 73 6
1964 Ott 31 517 16.7 80 5
1965 Ott 31 704 22.7 77 4
1966 Ott 35 804 23.0 69 7
1967 Ott 52 1,171 22.5 94 9
1968 Ott 36 890 24.7 65 13
1969 Ott 37 855 23.1 82 8
1970 Ott 6 101 16.8 28 0
Total 9 272 6,092 22.4 94 53

 1966 is probably the best. He caught two touchdown passes from Jackson, but Lancaster and the Green Riders beat Ottawa 29-14.

Three years later, Jackson and Tucker would get their revenge.

Tucker played only five games in 1970, having hurt his knee in training camp. He has lived in Ottawa all these years and has seven grandchildren and spends the summers in the Thousand Islands.

Both Jackson and Tucker, an outstanding pitch and catch team, still fondly remember their era as a time when the CFL was still very much a running game. A quarterback might pass only 20 or 25 times a game, unlike the pass-happy game that took over in the 1970s and dominates today.

“I’d catch 100 passes a year if I could play today,” said Tucker. Especially if he had a guy like Jackson throwing the ball.

 

excerpt Whit can still take a hit -

Ottawa Sun - Ron Corbett - July 31, 2011

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.”

 

 

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