May 28th, 2024

Chad Owens, SJ Green and Weston Dressler highlight ’24 Hall of Fame class

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press on May 3, 2024.

A career that started on the practice roster has earned Chad Owens a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Owens, left, runs the ball past Calgary Stampeders' Brandon Smith during first half CFL football action in Calgary, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

TORONTO – A career that started on the practice roster has earned Chad Owens a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

The electrifying returner/receiver topped a stellar 2024 class announced Friday. Also named were players S.J. Green, Weston Dressler, Marvin Coleman and Vince Goldsmith with former CFL coach Ray Jauch and amateur football icon Ed Laverty (posthumously) selected as builders.

All will be enshrined Sept. 13 in Hamilton.

The five-foot-eight, 180-pound Owens, dubbed The Flyin’ Hawaiian, spent 10 seasons with Montreal (2009), Toronto (2010-15), Hamilton (2016, 2018) and Saskatchewan (2017). Owens was a four-time all-star, twice the league’s top special-teams player and its outstanding performer.

“This is the last thing you can accomplish as a pro athlete . . . the highest thing,” Owens said. “It goes into the box of biggest things in my life. Period.

“And definitely of my football career.”

Owens, 42, recorded 521 career catches for 6,217 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also had 4,027 punt-returns yards (11-yard average, five TDs) and 5,479 kickoff-returns yards, amassing 16,698 combined yards.

Owens spent most of 2009 on the practice roster as Montreal marched to the first of two consecutive Grey Cups. Owens was dealt to Toronto on June 24, 2010 and the Honolulu native’s career exploded with the first top special-teams award that year.

In 2012, Owens set a pro football single-season record of 3,863 combined yards to claim the CFL’s outstanding player award. He also established career highs in catches (94) and yards (1,328) as Toronto downed Calgary 35-22 in the 100th Grey Cup before 53,208 spectators at Rogers Centre.

“To me, it (trade to Toronto) was a perfect opportunity to come in, compete and showcase my skills,” Owens said. “I wanted to make an impact on my new teammates and right away that established something special.

“But my experience in Montreal wasn’t for nothing. They were stacked and (head coach) Marc Trestman and (offensive co-ordinator) Scott Milanovich were there. Scott comes over (as Toronto’s head coach in ’12) and I already knew what time it was, what to expect.”

Owens never had to look far for inspiration.

“Weston, from a receiving perspective, was that guy . . being undersized like me but playing big,” Owens said. “SJ would come with this big, spectacular catch and it was the TSN highlight and so I wanted that to.

“But it was all cool between us, no animosity, no ego, just respect at the highest level and we fed off that competition. I couldn’t be more excited to be going in with those two guys.”

Dressler, 38, played with Saskatchewan (2008-15) and Winnipeg (2016-18), registering 715 catches for 10,026 yards and 61 TDs. The five-foot-seven, 168-pound Bismarck, N.D., native was the CFL’s top rookie in ’08 and a two-time all-star who made two Grey Cup appearances, winning in ’13 in Regina with the Roughriders.

“I think (being named to the Hall of Fame) is still settling in for me,” Dressler said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I saw (CFL) as an opportunity to keep playing football . . . I was grateful for that.

“As I went through my career in those first couple of years in Saskatchewan, I realized what the CFL was all about, what the Roughriders were all about and just fell in love with it all.”

The six-foot-three, 216-pound Green was a fluid receiver with Montreal (2007-16) and Toronto (2017-19). Green, 38, registered 716 catches for 10,222 yards with 60 TDs.

He suffered a serious knee injury early in 2016 but registered career highs in catches (104) and yards (1,462) the next season with Toronto. The Argos would win the Grey Cup, Green’s third (2009-10 with Montreal).

Green also spent time on Montreal’s practice roster but said that was a blessing.

“Those days were probably the most important of my career,” Green said. “I was able to sit back and listen to coach Trestman coach up AC (quarterback Anthony Calvillo), I was able to listen to him coach (receivers) Ben Cahoon, Kerry Watkins and Jamel Richardson.

“I listened to all of the mistakes they made. When it was my opportunity, it was easy to not to make those mistakes because I’d heard them coached so many times.”

Goldsmith, 64, was a dominant defensive lineman with Saskatchewan (1981-83, 1988-90), Toronto (1984) and Calgary (1985-87). He was the CFL’s top rookie in 1981 with 17 sacks then posted a career-best 20 two years later.

Goldsmith had 10 or more sacks eight times and finished with 130.5 (eighth all-time). He won a Grey Cup in ’89 with Saskatchewan.

Coleman, 52, was another dual threat. The five-foot-nine, 170-pound cornerback played with Calgary (1994-2000) and Winnipeg (2001-03) and was a three-time league all-star with 28 interceptions (six return TDs) and 538 tackles.

Coleman stands fourth all-time in punt-return yards (5,211) and seventh in kickoff-returns yards (11,545) and scored seven return TDs. He played in four Grey Cups, winning twice with Calgary.

Jauch, 86, played in the ’59 Rose Bowl with as a running back with Iowa and was an AFL first-round pick by Buffalo, but opted for Winnipeg.

He suffered a career-ending torn Achilles in Winnipeg’s ’61 Grey Cup win over Hamilton. Jauch became Edmonton’s running back coach in 1966 before being promoted to head coach in 1970.

Jauch served as head coach with Edmonton (1970-76), Winnipeg (1978-82) and Saskatchewan (1994-95). He recorded 127 regular-season wins (sixth all-time) and in ’75 led Edmonton to its first Grey Cup win since 1956.

Jauch was the ’80 CFL coach of the year.

Laverty served as president of the Ottawa Nepean touch football league from 1964-2015. He held a similar post with the Ontario Touch Football league for over 10 years and helped launch Touch Football Canada.

Laverty was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2024.

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