CFL

The 2019 Canadian Football Hall Of Fame class is here.

The 2019 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. There are five players and two builders in this years group.

This is the Canadian Football Hall of Fame so it has categories UK fans may not be used to seeing. Because we have grown used to the way the Pro Football Hall of Fame works we may find some things odd.

An amateur player can be voted in as with Paul Brûlé  in the 2018 class. So can people in the ‘Builders’ category. The latter including those that make an impact off the field.

This years’ class sees Jim Hopson and Frank Smith go in as builders. Alongside them are five players – John Cornish, Mervyn Fernandez, Terry Greer, Ernie Pitts, and David Williams.

An Offensive Explosion

Among the players is an explosion of offensive talent. The five players inducted constitute one running back and four wide receivers.

John Cornish – running back

Jon Cornish with ball in hand for the Stamps. Image from cfl.ca

Jon Cornish played in the CFL from 2007 to 2015 and spent his entire career with the Calgary Stampeders.

Cornish finished his career as the fourth-leading rusher in Stampeders history with 6,844 yards, on 1,026 carries, and 44 touchdowns.

He also had 1,666 receiving yards and nine touchdowns to his name. All part of a career 8,510 total yards from scrimmage.

From 2012 to 2014 Cornish was the league leading rusher. Each year he had over 1,000 yards and was named a CFL all-star and Most Outstanding Canadian.

The most dominant season of Cornish’s career came in 2013. A season that saw him accumulate 1,813 rushing yards. Still the most ever recorded by a Canadian in a single season.

Once he was given his chance to start Cornish took it with both hands. It was well into his career before Cornish became the Stamps ‘go to’ guy. Before that he had been a backup runner to Joffrey Reynolds and spent time on special teams.

In his time with the team the Stamps went 52-20 and appeared in 3 Grey Cups. They would lose in 2012, but Cornish took home a winners ring in 2008 and 2014.

In 2018, the Jon Cornish Trophy was created in his name to annually recognise the top Canadian-born player in NCAA football. This fits in with his avowed desire to inspire the coming generations.

You can read a little more on Cornish on the Stamps website.

Mervyn Fernandez – wide receiver

Fernandez with the 1985 Grey Cup. Image from the Vancouver sun

‘Swervin’ Meryn Fernandez was arguably one of the most gifted receivers to play in the CFL.

He was with the BC Lions for his whole CFL career from 1982 to 1986 and after a brief hiatus again in 1994. That CFL career gap was because Fernandez had caught the eye of the eye of the Raiders who he played for in the NFL from 1987-1992.

In six seasons in BC Fernandez had regular season career totals of 399 receptions, 6,690 receiving yards, and 58 touchdown catches.

During his rookie season, Fernandez had 64 catches for 1046 yards. He was named the West Division Outstanding Rookie Award winner and West Division All-Star.

That was the first of four straight West-Division all-star nods. He was also named a CFL All-Star in 1984 and 1985.

1985 was his best season as he had 95 catches for 1,727 yards and 15 touchdowns. Fernandez became the first Lion to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award that year too.

Fernandez won two Grey Cups with BC in 1985 and 1994.

If it hadn’t been for his sojourn in the NFL, Fernandez could have been much further up the list of all-time receiving records in the CFL.

Terry Greer – wide receiver

Terry Greer in action. image from CFLapedia

Terry Greer spent six seasons with the Toronto Argonauts from 1980 to 1985. In his rookie season, Greer had 37 catches for 552 yards. Next season, 1981 injuries limited Greer to only 6 games.

However in 1982 he emerged as a true receiving superstar. From 1982-1986, Greer went over one thousand yards receiving and was named an East All-Star in every season. He was also named All-Canadian in 1982 & 1983.

In 1982 Greer hauled-in 85 passes for 1,466 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was even better a year later, grabbing 113 catches for an astonishing 2,003 yards.

This was the first time that any pro receiver went over the 2,000-yard mark. That season the Argos would win their first Grey Cup in 31 years.

You can read a little more on Greer on the Argos website.  

Ernie Pitts – wide receiver

Ernie Pitts has been posthumously inducted this year. Image from cfl.ca

You can divide Ernie Pitts’ career in two. From 1957 to 1963, Pitts was one of the top receivers in the CFL. From 1964 to 1970, he was one of the top defensive backs in the league.  

Pitts joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1957 and played for them until 1969. He rounded out the last year of his career, 1970, with the BC Lions.

Ernie Pitts’ best seasons offensively came in 1959 with 68 catches and 1120 yards, and 1962 with 62 catches for 865 yards. 

Today his numbers might not look all that eye-catching. Football has changed immeasurably over the years.

You have to remember in years when he was catching thirty or forty odd balls a season that still made Pitts one of the leading pass catchers in his division each year.

Ernie Pitts was a key part of some Bud Grant led dynastic years for Winnipeg. He played in six Grey Cups with the team. On 4 of those occasions he went home a champion – in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962.

After amassing 5443 yards receiving, Pitts switched to defensive back in 1963. As a receiver, Pitts had captured three West All-Star honours (1957, 1959 and 1960). There would be three more West-All star honours as a defensive back (1965, 1966 and 1968).

David Williams – wide receiver

David Williams with ball in hand for BC. Image from CFLapedia

Unlike the other players in this year’s CFHOF class David Williams had a nomadic career in the CFL. He would appear for five different teams over the course of his nine year career.

Williams signed with the BC Lions prior to the 1988 season and burst onto the CFL scene.

After leading the league in receptions and yardage with 83 catches for 1468 yards he was named to the West and CFL All-Star teams. The icing on the debut season cake was winning the Outstanding Player award.

1989 saw Williams repeat his numbers with BC snagging 79 balls for 1,446 yards. Over those two years he also added 32 touchdowns.

Williams became a free agent after the 1989 season. He originally signed for the Ottawa Rough Riders before playing for Toronto, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

In his last stop with Winnipeg, Williams had a career high 84 catches in 1993 before injuries limited his last 2 years in the league.

The breadth of Williams success is reflected in his Divisional All-Star selections in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993. Further he was named CFL All-Star in 1988 and 1993.

3 Grey Cup appearances (in 1988, 1991 and 1993) saw him take home one winners ring with the Argos in the 1991 edition of the game.

Banner image from cfl.ca

Article written by:

Chris Lawton joined the NFLGirlUK.com team in 2017 and has been writing about the CFL ever since. He originally started following the NFL with the 'first wave' of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980's. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL from the inception of Ninety-Nine Yards. You can find him on twitter as @CFLfanUK

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