Turning up the volume: pass leaders by yardage for each CFL team
Turning up the volume? No we don’t mean in the way that some people do when ‘kindly’ sharing their music on public transport. This is all about the CFL field generals. And it all came about because of a comment on Twitter.
It was noted on there that incumbent Argonauts QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson was now 5th all-time on the Toronto Argonauts passing yardage lists. This was because, now having passed for 9,903 yards in double blue he had passed Tobin Rote into fifth place. MBT has not been around that long as a defined number one so it begged the question – how can he climb the yardage charts that rapidly?
All of which led to further questions – like who was Toronto’s all-time leading yardage passer? Ricky Ray as it turned out. But that just led to further questions. Like, who is the all-time leading passer by volume for each of the nine CFL teams.
Because interest was piqued I went and had a look. So let’s check it out.
CFL team career passing leaders by volume – East
As it was Toronto that got us started here we will start there. As already noted , their all-time passing leader is Rick ray.
Toronto Argonauts: Ricky Ray. The 2022 CFHOF inductee was with the Argos from 2012 to 2018. During that time he completed 1,757 passes out of 2,476 attempts for 20,205 yards and 114 touchdowns. All franchise records. He also led the team to 2 Grey Cup titles. Winning in 2012 and 2017.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Danny McManus. The 2011 CFHOF inductee was with the tabbies from 1998-2005. During that time he turned 2,368 completions on 4,257 attempts into 33,841 yards and 164 touchdowns. He led Hamilton to their most recent Grey Cup win back in 1999. Which, with Winnipeg winning in 2019 is now the longest running current title drought in the CFL.
Ottawa REDBLACKS: In terms of the new franchise that stated playing in 2014, the all-time passing leader is Trevor Harris. With Ottawa from 2016 to 2018 Harris completed 1,071 passes on 1,517 attempts for 13,096 yards and 68 touchdowns.
Additional – Ottawa Football Club: There has been football on and off in Ottawa since 1876 in the form of one team or another. The most venerable of those being the Ottawa Rough Riders. So if we count all Ottawa pro football in this way, the all-time leader becomes Canadian QB legend and 1973 CFHOF inductee Russ Jackson. Having spent his entire playing career with the Rough Riders (1958-1969), Jackson completed 1,356 of 2,530 attempts for 24,593 yards and 185 touchdowns. Not to mention delivering three Grey Cup wins (1960, 1968 and 1969).
Montreal Alouettes: The Als passing volume stats are completely dominated by 2017 CFHOF inductee Anthony Calvillo. Calvillo may have started his career comparatively slowly but the all-time career CFL passing leader got the bulk of his numbers from 1998-2013 in Montreal. With the Als he completed 5,210 passes for 69,655 yards 398 touchdowns. His name is all over the Alouettes career passing marks. Plus, he led them to 3 grey Cup wins (2002, 2009 & 2010).
CFL team career passing leaders by volume – West
Calgary Stampeders: The Stamps all-time leader is the most likely to change soon on this list. And very soon at that. Because although 2020 CFHOF inductee Henry Burris leads the way, current Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell is a mere 361 yards away. He should take over in the next week or two. As it stands however Burris is the all-time volume king in Calgary having 2,267 completions for 32,191 yards and 203 touchdowns.
BC Lions: For the Leos, we have a man who spent seven seasons in BC. The 2012 CFHOF inductee and 4 x career Grey Cup champion Damon Allen. Whilst with the Lions Allen hit 2,037 completions on 3,421 attempts for 27,621 yards and 136 touchdowns. He led the Lions to a Grey Cup win in 2000.
Saskatchewan Roughriders: The key passing volume records in Saskatchewan still belong to the legendary 1982 CFHOF inductee, the ‘little general’ Ron Lancaster. Ron completed 3,186 passes on 5,834 attempts for 46,710 yards and 299 touchdowns. All franchise records. But he is probably better remembered for leading the Roughriders to the playoffs for 14 consecutive years and making it to the CFL’s Western Football Conference final 12 times. During that period, Saskatchewan played for the Grey Cup five times (1966, 1967, 1969, 1972, and 1976). But most importantly they won it once, in 1966 as Lancaster helped deliver their first ever Grey Cup win.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: For Winnipeg, the greatest passer by volume is the 1995 CFHOF inductee, the strong-armed Dieter Brock. Brock managed 2,167 completions on 3,777 attempts for 29,623 yards and 187 touchdowns. Brock never won the Grey Cup was a two time CFL MOP and San Diego Chargers legendary QB Dan Fouts (1979-81) and Brock (1980-82) were the first two QB’s in pro football history to throw for over 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
Edmonton Elks: Well would you look at that! We end this list with the man we started it with, – Ricky Ray. Because Ray also set franchise records in Edmonton (with the then Eskimos). In Edmonton from 2002-2003 and 2005-2011, he had 3,225 completions on 4,827 attempts for 40,531 yards and 210 touchdowns. Not to mention leading Edmonton to Grey Cup titles in 2003 and 2005.
There’s a lot of Hall of Fame talent on this list. Which makes sense because to lead in career numbers like this you have to have longevity. And you don’t get to be around for a long time if you aren’t good!
It will be fun to see if, who by, and when these records are surpassed.
Banner Image: Double franchise passing volume king Ricky Ray with Edmonton. Image from theglobeandmail.com