All time great CFL running backs: Kelvin Anderson

All time great CFL running backs: Kelvin Anderson
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Kelvin Anderson – a CFL Great

I love the history of pro football, and I love the CFL. Which is why in the past on the 99 Yards website CFL pages we have looked at some of the greats of the game. So far, we have looked back at a variety of special teams players, defensive superstars and quarterbacks. (See end of article).

But what about the workhorses? The men ploughing an offensive furrow on the ground? I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the great CFL names in that area of the game. After all, UK based NFL fans with a love of the history of the game can tell you plenty about men like Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Marion Motley, Marshall Faulk, Emmitt Smith and so many more.

Well I am here to tell UK based gridiron fans that the 3 down game has a pantheon of its own. That started out with the Saskatchewan Rouhgriders legend George Reed. Then moved on to another past superstar, the Edmonton Elks (then Eskimos) star Johnny Bright.

After that we moved on to the CFL’s all-time rushing yardage leader, and former RB for Edmonton, the Montreal Alouettes,  Sacramento Gold Miners, & Baltimore Stallions, the legendary Mike Pringle.

Last time out we looked at Winnipeg Blue Bombers all-time leading rusher Charles Roberts. Now we are turning our attention to a man who appeared for the BC Lions, but had the core of his career with the Calgary Stampeders, – Kelvin Anderson.

Earthquake

Kelvin Anderson played football at New Madrid County Central High School before moving onto South East Missouri State in college. It was while with the Redhawks that he was given the nickname ‘Earthquake’.

Anderson was named an NCAA Division I-AA All-American in 1992 after rushing for a then Southeast single-season record 1,371 yards. A three-time Most Valuable Player, Anderson rushed for over 1,000 yards each season and was the school’s all-time career rushing leader with 3,392 yards when he moved on to the pro ranks.

Earthquake also left with the school record in career 100-yard games (14), was second in career rushing attempts (636) and fifth in career rushing touchdowns (24). He also ran for over 200 yards twice in his career and set Southeast’s single-season record in rushing yards per carry with 6.69 in 1992.

The Calgary Stampeders thought he was worth a look. And he would immediately prove their assessment to be correct.

Kelvin Anderson makes an immediate impact

Anderson joined a Stampeders team coming off a run of three straight 15 win seasons as part of an 80-27-1 run from 1990-1995. That run had delivered three Grey Cup appearances with one championship. He joined a team used to consistent success. Not to mention, loaded with talent. As a rookie he could look at the huddle and see the likes of Jeff Garcia, Allen Pitts, Travis Moore, Dave Sapunjis, and more.

Anderson proved he fitted in right away. In his first CFL season he had 240 carries for 1068 yards and 10 touchdowns. He added 45 catches for 409 yards and 4 touchdowns just for good measure. All of which led to him being named the 1996 CFL Outstanding Rookie.

Anderson’s best season came in his third year. In 1998 when he had 236 carries for a career high 1325 yards and 9 touchdowns to which he added 64 passes for 605 yards and a further seven major scores. That year the Stamps went 12-6 on their way to winning the Grey Cup. He would win it again in 2001, which would prove to be his last season with the Stampeders.

Consistency is key for Kelvin Anderson

Kelvin Anderson had an eight year CFL career. During which he was remarkably consistent. Both in terms of on-field production and in terms of reliability. In regards to the latter, over an 8 year career of 18 game seasons Kelvin appeared in 142 out of a potential 144 games. He didn’t miss a single game in his first five seasons in Calgary. Durability can be overlooked, but ‘being there’ when your team needs you is incredibly important. And it was something Kelvin Anderson’s durability and ability to play through pain delivered on throughout his career.

Statistically he was incredibly consistent too. Setting a CFL record for most consecutive 1000 yards seasons rushing. A record born out of the fact that he went over the 1000 yard mark in every season of his career.

Kelvin Anderson running with the ball for the Stamps. Image from Stampeders.com

Leaving Calgary

Anderson was inexplicably let go by the Stampeders after his seventh straight 1000 yard season to bring in the late Lawrence Phillips. Phillips was coming off a 2002 season where he had rushed for 1022 yards and helped the Als take the Grey Cup. But it wasn’t like Anderson had shown a slump in form, having rushed for 1074 yards himself.

The BC Lions were now being coached by former Calgary head Coach Wally Buono who had been let go following a 6-12 season in 2002. He picked up Kelvin Anderson now that he was available.

Mister consistent delivered for the eighth season in a row in BC. That year he had 188 carries for 1048 yards and six touchdowns whilst adding 43 catches netting 365 yards.

As for Phillips and the Stamps? Phillips appeared in 7 games recording 486 yards rushing before being released partway through the 2003 season for arguing with head coach Jim Barker. Calgary finished the season 5-13. In his final season in the CFL, Kelvin Anderson was on an 11-7 Lions.

YearTeamGPTCYdsAvgTDLong
1996CAL1824010684.51049
1997CAL1824610884.4934
1998CAL1823613255.6944
1999CAL1826213085839
2000CAL1820310485.2649
2001CAL1726213835.3646
2002CAL1822110744.9440
2003BC1718810485.6652
Kelvin Anderson’s consistency highlighted in his durability and eight straight 1000 yard seasons rushing – still a CFL record.

Kelvin Anderson: The Awards

Anderson started his career with Calgary in 1996 and was named the CFL Outstanding Rookie for that first career season.

He would go on to be a five time Western All-Star in consecutive seasons from 1997 to 2001. As well as a three time CFL All-Star (1998, 1999 and 2001).

Anderson earned the Eddie James Memorial Trophy as the leading rusher in the Western Division 4 times (1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001). He was also Calgary’s nominee for Outstanding Player 3 times (1998, 2001, and 2002). As well as receiving the West’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 1998 and 2001.

He was put on the Stampeders Wall of Fame in 2012 and inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

Beyond the running backs

Special teams players we have looked at have included kickers Paul OsbaldistonLui PassagliaBob Cameron and Dave Cutler. As well as legendary returners Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams. 

On the quarterbacking front we have looked at the likes of Damon AllenRon LancasterTom WilkinsonTracy HamTom ClementsDieter Brock and Sam Etcheverry.

Not to mention defensive superstars such as Wayne HarrisWillie PlessAngelo MoscaDickie HarrisNorm FieldgateJim Corrigall, and Bill Baker.

Players make the game and great players make up part of the rich fabric of the history of the game. So if you want to know more why not pick some out and take a look?

Banner Image: Kelvin Anderson in action of the Calgary Stampeders. Image from cfhof.ca

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