The 2022 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. There are five players and three 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 Tim Tindale in this year’s class. So can people in the ‘Builders’ category. The latter including those that make an impact off the field.
This year’s class sees Keith Evans Dave Ritchie, and Roy Shivers go in as builders. Alongside them are five players – Chip cox, Paul McCallum, Ricky Ray, Dick Thornton and Tim Tindale.
Most interesting for us though are probably the players who plied their trade in the CFL. -Let’s take a look at them.
Chip Cox – Linebacker
Having arrived from the University of Ohio Bobcats, Chip Cox signed with the Montreal Alouettes prior to the 2006 season. Cox was a defensive back who was converted to play outside linebacker. And it paid off. Playing linebacker he added more speed to the Montreal Defence both for pass coverage and aiding pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Cox played 13 seasons in the CFL, all of them with Montreal. During his time with the Als he won six straight East All-Star nods at linebacker (2009-2014) and three CFL All-Stars (2009-2011).
Over his 13 year CFL career he played in 228 games. Amassing an impressive total of 979 defensive tackles, the fourth highest total in CFL history.
In 2013 he was voted the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. That year he registered a team record 115 defensive tackles, adding 12 sacks and four interceptions for good measure.
Cox holds the CFL record for most career fumble return touchdowns (6) and most career fumble return yards (392).
He was part of a very successful Montreal team and appeared in 4 Grey Cups. Defeats in 2006 and 2008 were balanced by back to back victories in 2009 and 2010.
Paul McCallum – Kicker
Unlike our previous entrant, McCallum has had a long wait to be called to the Hall. The 52-year-old, who played his junior football in the BC Junior Football League has waited 24 years to get in.
Perhaps it reflects his career. Because it took him a few years to find a team and a regular kicking job. But once he did he belonged. And it’s the same with the Hall. There is no doubt now that he is here that he belongs.
McCallum originally signed with Hamilton in March of 1993, but never played for the Tiger-Cats. He then tried with Ottawa and BC in 1993. He could not unseat Lui Passaglia. Yet now they are forever connected as only two players to eclipse the 3,000-point milestone in the CFL.
McCallum spent most of 1996 with the Scottish Claymores of the WLAF where he won a championship. It wasn’t until 1997 that McCallum finally got his big chance in the CFL. As he played all 18 games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. As a Roughrider, McCallum earned the most consecutive converts in Roughriders history, and the longest field goal in CFL history. A 62 yarder kicked at Taylor field.
A move West pays dividends
McCallum played with the Roughriders until the end of the 2005 season. After which he signed as a free agent with the BC Lions for 2006. That year he tied the record for most field goals in a Grey Cup as he kicked six in six attempts. He was named the Most Outstanding Canadian in BC’s Grey Cup win because of this. He would be with BC through to 2014. Meaning another Grey Cup win came in 2011.
In 2015 McCallum signed back with Saskatchewan. Playing in 14 games before being deactivated for the final three games of the season. He was released that December.
On March the 7th, 2016, McCallum signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the BC Lions.
A two-time Grey Cup champion he was named a Division All-Star five times and a CFL All-Star twice. He made 722 career field goals with an 80.2 per cent success rate. He recorded 84,093 punt yards and 68,432 kickoff yards.
Ricky Ray – Quarterback
Ah Quarterbacks. They grab all the headlines don’t they? This Hall of Fame class has certainly been heralded as being headed up by Ricky Ray. And when it comes down to it, it should be. Because Ray had a great career. Heck he almost had two separate great careers in the CFL. One with Edmonton and one with Toronto.
The career statistics are pretty impressive in themselves. Ray threw for 60,736 yards in his career, completing 4,982 of 7,303 passes with 324 touchdowns and 177 interceptions. He also ran for 3,142 yards in 615 attempts with 39 rushing touchdowns.
Those numbers saw him, at retirement, ranked 4th all time for passing yards, 5th for touchdowns, 5th for starts, 1st overall for career completion percentage (68.2), and 3rd in 300+ yard games. His most impressive statistic however came in the Grey Cup. He is the only QB to win 4 Grey Cup games as a starter. Ray is a winner – which soon became apparent in the first part of his CFL career with Edmonton.
The Edmonton years
It has been argued that Ray could have made the Hall based off of his nine years in Edmonton alone. During that time he became the Green and Gold’s all time leader for attempts, completions, yardage and touchdowns. Ray went 3,225 of 4,827 for 40,531 yards and 210 touchdowns. Ray recorded three seasons of 5,000 or more passing yards, while breaking the 5,500 yard threshold twice. His 2008 season with 5,663 was a team record until eclipsed by Mike Reilly in 2017.
At the end of nine seasons in Edmonton his 96.1 passer efficiency rating was the highest among all-time QBs with at least 30,000 career passing yards.
And of course he delivered two titles. Winning the Grey Cup in 2003 and 2005. In the latter win, (an overtime classic), Ray set a Grey Cup record, completing 35 of his 45 passing attempts and was named the game’s MVP.
The trade to Toronto
In December 2011 former Edmonton GM Eric Tillman stunned the CFL by dealing Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts. In return Edmonton got a first-round pick , quarterback Steven Jyles and kicker Grant Shaw. Some said it was the worst deal ever made.
In Toronto Ray led the Argos to two Grey Cup titles (2012 and 2017). He also finished his career as an Argo with three seasons of over 4,000 yards, including another season where he was able to throw more than 5,500 passing yards.
Ray was named a CFL All-Star three times, with two of those awards coming in Double Blue (2013 & 2014). In July of 2017, Ray passed Doug Flutie, with 16,634 yards to become the all-time passing leader for Toronto. Meaning he was the career passing leader on two separate teams that he would eventually lead to two championships each.
As in Edmonton, Ray left a mark on the record books in Toronto. He retired as the franchise al time leader in attempts, completions, yardage and touchdowns. This time going 1,757 of 2,476 for 20,205 yards and 114 touchdowns. He also holds the team record for highest career pass completion percentage (minimum 300 attempts) at 71.0.
For all of the records and stats on both teams however, Ricky Ray will be best remembered as a winner. A man who had a calm demeanour and the ability to get it done in tight situations. He certainly deserves his call to the Hall.
Dick Thornton – DB/QB
We have two players on this list who are first ballot Hall of Fame members. But we also have two players who had a long wait to get in. ‘Tricky’ Dick Thornton’s journey to the Hall is the longest of anyone here. He retired 50 years ago and enters the Hall posthumously.
Thornton had a 12 year CFL career. Covering 1961 to 1972. And you can tell it was a different era. Not least because Thornton chose to play in Canada because Bud Grant and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offered him more money than the Cardinals in the NFL. Taking him to Winnipeg obviously worked. Because he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1988.
Thornton was a highly versatile player. He was deployed mainly at defensive back. But he also backed up at Quarterback and as a receiver. Oh, and he also managed to throw in some punting duties alongside kick and punt returns when needed to!
Thornton split his career exactly in half with Winnipeg (1961-66) and the Toronto Argonauts (1967-72). During that time he won 5 divisional All-Star awards. In 1962, 1963 and 1965 with Winnipeg in the West and 1969 and 1971 with Toronto in the East. In three of those years, he was named All-Canadian (1963, 1965 and 1971).
Whilst his career started in 1961 he did not appear in that year’s Grey Cup game. However, Thornton played in three Grey Cups. Winning once in 1962 with the Blue Bombers and losing out in 1965 with Winnipeg and 1971 with Toronto.
Banner Image: Ricky Ray first ballot Hall member with the Toronto Argonauts. Image from youthassistingyouth.com