So we took a look at some great players that didn’t make that top five list. Starting with Ron Lancaster, and moving on to Tom Wilkinson, Tracy Ham, Tom Clements, Sam Etcheverry, Dieter Brock, and Condredge Holloway.
One name that stood out for me was that of Bernie Faloney. In twelve seasons with four CFL clubs, he played in eight Grey Cups. Leading three to victory: the Edmonton Eskimos in 1954 and the Hamilton TigerCats in 1957 and 1963. He was the first person to quarterback both Eastern and Western league teams to the Grey Cup.
Bernie Faloney before the CFL
Bernie Faloney, like so many football stars, hailed originally from Pennsylvania. He played his High School football there before he began his illustrious career playing varsity football with the University of Maryland.
He played QB for the Terrapins and got them into the Sugar Bowl in 1952 and the Orange Bowl in 1953. Faloney quarterbacked the Maryland team to the 1953 AP National Championship.
Following this, in 1953, Faloney was named ACC Player fo the Year. He was then the first draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers. But he chose the Edmonton Eskimos instead.
Arriving in the CFL with Edmonton
Faloney was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1954. But they wanted him to play defensive back and backup at QB. So he headed north to Edmonton to play QB. Once there he found himself in the same backfield as another future Hall of Fame QB, (and all round swiss army knife of a player) – Jackie Parker.
His first season in the CFL was hardly indicative of future success. He went 26 of 71 (36.6%) for 529 yards with 3 TD’s and 5 picks.
However, he made a strong contribution to the 11-5 season Edmonton put together in 1954. Alongside the passing he had 6 TD’s on the ground and had 21 punts that averaged 41.1 yards per kick.
In the 42nd Grey Cup, the first Grey Cup to be televised, Faloney had a 1 yard TD plunge in the Esks 26-25 win against the Montreal Alouettes.
The Best of Times – with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
After winning the Grey Cup with Edmonton Faloney served two years of mandatory service with the US Air Force. He returned to the CFL as a Free Agent in 1957 and signed with Hamilton.
It was whilst Faloney was in Hamilton that his coach, Jim Trimble, had this to say of him; “Bernie can’t run, he can’t kick and he can’t pass. All Bernie can do is beat you.” Of course Bernie, could run and he could pass, but it was a good line none the less.
Faloney was with the Ticats from 1957 to 1964. During that period Hamilton went 73-36-3, went to 7 Grey Cup games and won 2 of them (1957 & 1963). It was with the 1957 win that Faloney became the first player to lead a Western and an Eastern team to a Grey Cup title.
Bernie was named an Eastern All-Star 4 times in Hamilton (1958-9, 1961 & 1964). And was named CFL MOP in 1961.
Faloney after Hamilton
In 1965 Faloney found himself with the Montreal Alouettes. Whilst the Als would only go 5-9, Faloney won his final Eastern All-Star award. He only spent two seasons with the Als before finishing out his career in BC with the Lions in 1967.
BC finished last in the West with an anaemic 3-12-1 record. But Faloney had a good year, throwing for over 3,000 yards for the first time in his career. This as he threw for 3,303 yards, with 17 TD’s and ran for 2 more.
At the end of an illustrious CFL career Faloney could look to 3 Grey Cup wins, and 1,493 completions on 2,876 pass attempts leading to 24,264 yards and 153 touchdowns. The five time CFL East All-Star, and 1961 MOP also won the Jeff Russel Trophy as the top player in the Eastern Conference in 1965.
After the CFL
Faloney stayed in Hamilton after retirement. According to Wikipedia a street there is known for him. Noting that Cannon Street in Hamilton is also known as Bernie Faloney Way.
After retiring Faloney received plenty of accolades for his illustrious career. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1974. Who note that he ‘was known for his leadership and intensity to win’. He has also been inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 1983, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, the University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988, and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 1997 he was inducted to the TiCats Wall of Honour. Faloney’s number 10 jersey was retired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1999.
Banner Image: A Bernie Faloney football card from vintagecardprices.com