Fab five: Former CFL Players making the 2021 Hall of Fame Class

Fab five: Former CFL Players making the 2021 Hall of Fame Class
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Fab five – the 2021 CFHOF members who are in for their CFL playing careers

The 2021 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. There are seven members of the class of 2021. Five players, one Coach and one bulider.

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.

I want to focus on the fab five here – the players. Four defensive players, and one wide receiver who was arguably as tough as anyone in his time in the CFL. But first a nod to the other two new members of the Hall who will be inducted with them in 2021.

The Class of 2021 sees Doug Mitchell go in under the builders category. The former CFL commissioner (1984-1988), also served on the league’s Board of Governors representing the Calgary Stameders. He has also been involved in U Sports in Canada.

Alongside him will be Head Coach Marv Levy. Clearly the Montreal Alouettes organization and those backing their #TWOHALLSFORMARV campaign will be very happy. Levy was Head Coach of Montreal from 1973-1977. During that time he posted a 50-34-4 record with the Als. Which was the best of any CFL coach over that period. He also put up a 7-3 playoff record including three Grey Cup trips with wins coming in 1974 & 1977.

The Fab Five – the Players

Anybody making the Hall of Fame for their respective sports is a time for reflection. For them, and the people around them. But also for fans of the teams that they represented. And no entrant into a Hall embodies what the fans loved best about the game better than the players.

Because of which it will have been a pleasure for fans of several CFL teams to see some of their former favourites put up for induction. As the fab five are welcomed into the Class of 2021 it is a chance for fans to remenisce about their prowess on the field. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at who got in.

Will Johnson – Defensive Lineman

Image from CFL.ca

Calgary Stampeders 1989-1996 Saskatchewan Roughriders 1997.

West Division All-Star six times. CFL All-Star five times.

132 Career games. 1 Grey Cup title – 1992.

The first of our fab five, Johnson began his outstanding CFL career in August of 1989 when he was signed by the Calgary Stampeders. He played nine years in the CFL, eight with Calgary before signing as a free agent with Saskatchewan in June of 1998.

He was named a Division All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1990-1995. On top of which from 1991-1995 he was picked as a League All-Star five consecutive times.

In 1991 he was the Most Outstanding Defensive Player in the West Division and runner-up for the overall Defensive MOP award. That year he had 288 tackles, 15 sacks, eight fumble recoveries and an interception.

Johnson was the CFL sack leader in 1991 and 1994. He had 99 career sacks which currently places him 13th all-time in league history.

Nik Lewis – Wide Receiver

Image from CFL.ca

Calgary Stampeders 2004-2014 Montreal Alouettes 2015-2018.

CFL Rookie of the Year 2004. West Division All Star 5 times, East Division All Star 1 time. CFL All-Star 3 times.

226 Career games. 2 Grey Cup titles – 2008 & 2014.

Tough as teak. In a 2012 poll of more than 250 of his CFL peers, Lewis was voted the player toughest to bring down, third in the toughest-player category, and fourth in the nastiest-player category. The CFL all-time reception leader he finished his career with 1,051 receptions, 13,778 receiving yards, (fifth all-time), and 71 touchdowns.

A former Southern Arkansas University Mulerider, Lewis amassed over 1,000 receiving yards in 10 of his 14 seasons. The 5-foot-10, 240-pound receiver played 14 seasons in the CFL with Calgary and Montreal & was known for toughness and consistency.

226 games is no mean feat either. Whilst with Calgary Lewis was named a CFL West Division All-Star five times, and a CFL All-Star three times (2010, 11, 12). With Montreal he was voted CFL East Division All-Star once (2016).

Orlondo Steinaeur – Defensive Back

Image from Argos Twitter

Ottawa Rough Riders 1996 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1997-2000 Toronto Argonauts 2001-2008.

East Division All Star 7 times. CFL All Star 5 times.

184 Career games. 2 Grey Cup titles (as a player) – 1999 & 2004, 1 as an assistant coach – 2012.

From small beginnings. This member of the fab five joined the Ottawa Rough Riders late in the 1996 season and played two games.  After which the Riders folded. Because of this, Steinauer was selected in the second round of the dispersal draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Which is when things took off for him.

An all-star at three different positions (cornerback, halfback and safety), Steinauer earned seven East All-Star awards and five CFL All-Star honours. Steinauer had 49 career interceptions, including five returned for touchdowns. His 1,178 interception return yards are the second most in CFL history behind Less Browne (1,508).

He was on the last Tiger-Cats team to win the Grey Cup in 1999. Also winning with the Argos in 2004. After his retirement as a player, Steinauer took up coaching.  From 2010 to 2012, Steinauer was the defensive backs coach for the Argnonauts, winning the Grey Cup in 2012. He is currenlty the Head Coach with Hamilton.

Mike Walker – Defensive Tackle

Image from cfl.ca

Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1982-1989 Edmonton Eskimos 1990-1991.

East Division All Star 3 times. CFL All Star 3 times.

135 career games. 1 Grey Cup title – 1986.

Walker played 10 CFL seasons with Hamilton and Edmonton from 1982 to 1991, winning the Grey Cup with the Ticats in 1986. That year he had 21 sacks in the league’s first 18 game year.

A three-time all-star, he finished with 95.5 career sacks. His sack total puts him at 14th all time, just behind fellow inductee Will Johnson (above).

Walker was dominant on the D-Line. Particularly over a three year period (1987-1989) when he was voted East All-Star and CFL All-Star three consecutive times. He finished his career with 149 tackles, nine fumble recoveries and two interceptions. 

Don Wilson – Defensive Back

Image from fineartamerica.com

Edmonton Eskimos 1987-1989/1993-1994/1998 Toronto Argonauts 1990-1992/1995-1996 BC Lions 1997.

East All Star 2 times. West All Star 2 times. CFL All Star 4 times.

197 career games. 4 Grey Cup titles – 1987, 1991, 1993 & 1996.

The last of our fab five. Wilson had a very successful CFL career in the CFL as a Defensive Back from 1987 to 1998. Most of that time was spent in Edmonton and Toronto.

In his 12 year period in the league, Wilson notched 61 interceptions and 1,046 yards in interception return yardage. He scored 5 touchdowns on interception returns and added another 3 on fumble returns. He moved back and forth predominantly between the Eskimos and Argos. Yet was consitent enough to collect 4 Division All-Star nods and 4 CFL All-Star awards.

He appeared in 4 grey Cup games, and came out a winner on each occasion. Twice with Edmonton, (1987 & 1993), and twice times with Toronto (1991 & 1996). Ironically he won with Edmonton against Toronto in 1987, and with Toronto against Edmonton in 1996!

During his career, (prior to the 1993 season), Wilson was traded from the Argos to Edmonton in a huge trade that saw eight players go from Toronto to Edmonton and eight going the other way with the bigest name being QB Tracy Ham going to Toronto.

Banner image from sportsnet.ca

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