City of Hamilton Honors CFL Legend Russ Jackson | The Canadian News

Russ jackson He is a member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Yet it was at a grand opening event on a chilly morning in his hometown of Hamilton that had the 85-year-old soccer icon fighting back tears of joy as he reflected on his life’s accomplishments.

Jackson, along with his wife Lois, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and a host of other dignitaries cut the ribbon on the Russ Jackson football field on Saturday morning.

The legendary Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback says it’s a wonderful tribute to what he accomplished on and off the field.

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“It’s great to be honored in this way, especially here in Hamilton,” said an emotional Jackson, who shared the moment with dozens of family, friends, former teammates and local politicians.

“My wife and I both live and work here and went to school here, and to come back and be honored in this way is really special,” added Jackson.

Jackson recalled having to convince his father to let him play football at Hamilton’s Westdale High School and how he wanted to play offensive end (now called tight end) before his junior team coach convinced him to become a Quarterback.

Jackson performed for the McMaster Marauders football and basketball teams and graduated in 1958 with a degree in mathematics, but instead of earning a Rhodes scholarship he entered the 1958 CFL Draft and was selected sixth overall by the Ottawa Rough Riders. .

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Russ Jackson football field in Hamilton, Ontario.

Rick Zamperin / 900 CHML

The Rough Riders, led by Jackson, finished 6-8 and reached the playoffs in their first season and defeated Montreal in the East Division semifinal before losing to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a two-division final. games with total points.

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Jackson was named the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (now the Eastern Division) rookie of the year and a star was born.

He led Ottawa to three Gray Cup victories in 1960, 1968 and 1969, was named Most Outstanding Player in the Canadian Football League three times (1963, 1966, 1969) and was named best Canadian in the league in 1959, 1963 , 1966 and 1969.

Jackson was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 1973 and is considered the best Canadian quarterback in league history.

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Off the field, Jackson was a math teacher in Ottawa and later became the principal and assistant principal of several high schools in the nation’s capital and in Mississauga and Brampton, Ontario.

He also spent time as a color commentator on CBC Television soccer broadcasts and CHML 900 radio broadcasts of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats games.

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In 1986, Jackson was honored with the creation of the Russ Jackson Award, which is given to Canadian college football players who best exhibit athletic ability, academic achievement, and citizenship.

Jackson says he is happy to know that generations of children will be able to enjoy the countryside.

“I just want it to be a place where children have the opportunity to play, to grow up, to be able to come here and play soccer and just enjoy life. That’s all it is.”

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