“Very much a class act.” Remembering George Reed

George Reed and Ron Lancaster’s names are as vital to the Saskatchewan Roughriders as green and white.

On Sunday, the Roughriders lost a pillar of the organization with the passing of Reed.

Countless memories and antidotes soon began to pour in remembering Reed and his contributions to the football club and the province.

On what would have been Reed’s 84th birthday, Monday’s edition of the Sportscage, the former Roughrider legend was honoured, with President & CEO, former teammate & President & CEO Jim Hopson, team historian Rob Vanstone and former broadcaster Dale Isaac joining the show to speak about the impact Reed made on and off the field.

The George Reed statue outside of Mosaic Stadium

As a Player

Despite his playing career wrapping up nearly half a century ago, Reed became a connection that forever linked generations of Rider Nation, Reynolds explained.

“I believe he was one of the most influential figures in the history of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He meant so much to this province, so much to this club. I think he inspired a whole generation of football fans, of Roughrider fans who have now passed down that fandom to their kids, which I am one those.” said Reynolds.

Arriving in 1963, the running back would begin settling his roots as a player with a career that lasted until 1975. Reed would go on to establish career records in rushing yards (16,116), rushing touchdowns (134), and touchdowns (137).

Reed with Lancaster became the foundation of the organization. Vanstone says the pair became the dynamic duo for the Roughriders organization.

“They’re so synonymous with one another and they made each better, they made the team better, the province and the league better.”

The fact Reed was able to accomplish his gridiron accolades while wearing green and white and spending his entire career in Saskatchewan is what made him the greatest Roughrider, according to Isaac.

“He’s just a bona fide green and white Roughrider from start to finish never another team ever involved in his career.”

Hopson shared a locker room with Reed for three seasons (1973-75). He said Reed wasn’t a vocal leader but a player who led by example.

“He was so tough. He was a football player and he just didn’t complain, we don’t know if we ever saw him spike the ball.” said Hopson, “Very much a class act.”

When Reed rewrote the record books in Saskatchewan, Hopson noted the running back could have easily starred in the National Football League but chose to remain in Saskatchewan and the CFL.

Reed played an integral role for Saskatchewan when the Roughriders claimed their first Grey Cup in 1966.

The running back was named the MVP for the game with 133 rushing yards and a touchdown as Saskatchewan defeated Ottawa 29-14 at Empire Stadium in Vancouver.

Isaac explained that Reed was the driving force for the Roughriders in their first Grey Cup victory.

“I think the Ottawa Rough Riders were tired of tackling the guy at that point and just said we had enough of this.”

Off the Field

One of the most important moments for Hopson during his tenure as President of the Roughriders was bringing Reed back to Saskatchewan as an ambassador.

Hopson said the recruitment of the legendary Roughrider was a group effort between the team, Premier Brad Wall and Casino Regina.

When Reed returned, Vanstone said his impact on the community instantly renewed.

“He just hit the ground running, like he never left.”

One of Reed’s duties was now to become the face of the franchise, giving back and interacting with the fans, which Reed enjoyed, Hopson explained.

“He loved the opportunities he had to to give back.”

Dependability was a trait that Reed always possessed, said Hopson.

“Always there when you need him most.”

Vanstone felt Reed’s charitable nature was legendary.

“He did it so routinely, I can’t imagine how anybody would have the capacity to deal with that all, just time management wise. Let alone deal with it as graciously and patiently as he did.”

Reed’s blood would always be green, as you find him at each Roughriders game sitting in his seat in section 34 at Mosaic Stadium, rooting for the Roughriders just like another member of Rider Nation.

“He was so passionate about the Saskatchewan Roughriders.” Reynolds explained.

“If I could name one person who I know who was frustrated with losing, it was certainly George Reed.”

Honouring #34

Saturday will mark the 50th anniversary of when the province proclaimed the day to be George Reed Day in Saskatchewan. By order of the provincial government, the date was changed to October 34 in recognition of Reed.

Reynolds says that the Roughriders will do their best to honour Reed for the upcoming Roughriders game.

“We’re going to do our best to pay tribute to a man who deserves every piece of recognition that he’s gotten.”

The Roughriders will host the Hamiton-Tiger Cats on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium.

Opening kickoff is 5:00.

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