Great CFL Pivots: Condredge Holloway

Great CFL Pivots: Condredge Holloway
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There has been some discussion on the CFL site recently about quarterbacks. The current best, and the best five of all time have been up for debate.

So far we have taken a look at some great players who didn’t make that top five list. We started with Ron Lancaster, moved on to Tom WilkinsonTracy HamTom ClementsSam Etcheverry, and Dieter Brock.

This time we are turning to a quarterback who is still held in high affection, remembered primarily for his time with the Ottawa Rough Riders and Toronto Argonauts, Condredge Holloway.

Condredge Holloway before the CFL

Holloway was born in Hunstville, Alabama and initially gravitated towards baseball. He starred for his local High School. And was even drafted 4th overall by the Montreal Expos in the 1971 MLB draft. According to Wikipedia his mother refused to sign the contract, because she wanted him to go to college. At 17 he was legally too young to do this himself – so off to college he went enrolling with the University of Tennessee.

A multi sports star, Holloway would break barriers at Tennessee. He was the first black baseball player and the first black quarterback in the SEC. He was heavily recruited but apparently “then-Gov. George Wallace told Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant that the University of Alabama wasn’t ready for a black quarterback”. Bama’s loss was the Vols gain however.

Starting at Tennessee for three seasons Holloway went 25-9-2 as a starter. Holloway led the Vols to three post-season bowl games, while earning Sophomore Of The Year and Junior Of The Year awards in the SEC. He was also named All-SEC QB in 1973.

He ended his career in Tennessee having thrown just 12 interceptions in 407 attempts. During his tenure, he completed 238 of 407 passes for 3,102 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed 351 times for 966 yards and nine touchdowns.

At the same time, as a baseball player, he earned All-American and All-SEC honours. Once again he was drafted by an mlb team, the Atlanta Braves who took him and left him with a choice between professional football or baseball.

No wonder Condredge Holloway was voted into the Tennesse Sports Hall of Fame!

Arriving in the CFL with Ottawa

Holloway was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 12th round of the 1975 NFL Draft. The Pats however envisioned Holloway moving over to DB whereas the CFL, and more specifically the Ottawa Rough Riders were happy to have him play his natural position at quarterback.

When he arrived in the CFL, Holloway found himself splitting time with Tom Clements. Both of them would eventually be Hall of Fame players.

It was a solid 1-2 combination for the Rough Riders. But it was Clements who spent most of his time as the starter and pass orineted QB. While Holloway was a very able deputy who could really be more mobile.

Holloway picked up a Grey Cup ring when Ottawa won the 1976 Grey Cup. But it was Clements who led the team, having been an East All-Star in his first three seasons and taking the MVP award in this championship game.

Condredge Holloway would get his chance to start. And he would take it with both hands when he was traded to Toronto in the April of 1981.

The best times: Condredge Holloway with the Toronto Argonauts

Condredge Holloway had his best times in the CFL with the double blue. Image from cfl.ca

In Toronto, Holloway took over as the undisputed number one QB. He would stay with the team for six years in total, from 1981 to 1986.

Holloway’s first year in Toronto saw the Argos go 2-14. It was a low point for a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 1971. But Holloway himself has his most productive year in the league up to that point.

Then came the 1982 season. In 1982, Holloway was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player on the back of 4,661 yards passing and 30 touchdowns. The Argos won the East Division with a 9-6-1 record but were beaten in the Grey Cup by a record breaking Edmonton team.

On a personal level 1982 was the peak for Holloway. But in 1983 he was named East All-Star and the Argos recorded a 12-4 record. This time they lifted the 71st Grey Cup defeating BC 18-17. For the game itself Holloway was battling the flu and only managed a 14 yard TD toss in the second quarter before Joe Barnes took over for the boatmen. This was the Argos first Grey Cup win since 1952, and Condredge Holloway was at the heart of leading the team to that win.

Holloway was released by Toronto after the 1986 season and played five games for BC in his final year in 1987. He was named an All-time Argonaut in 1998, and elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame class of 1999.

After the CFL

Holloway returned to the University of Tennessee. Working as an assistant athletic director for student/athlete relations. He served with the school for 21 years.

Success has been Condredge Holloway’s story. From breaking barriers, to athletic success he has always been a leader.

One thing I do have to say here. In any conversations I have had about the Argos, and their players, few have been held in as high an affection as Holloway. I never saw him play, but it is obvious that for a certain generation, he was, and always will be, ‘their guy’.

Banner image from Toronto Public Library

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