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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 4, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, September LETHBRIDGE Graham Kelly ANDY CAPP According to Bud Grant, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, George Reed is not the best fullback who ever played professional football. That honor he reserves for the incom- parable Jimmy Brown. But Grant thinks that George can keep pretty good company in the pros: "George Reed is probably the second best fullback to ever play the says Grant. High praise, indeed, from a man who has won championships in both the National and Canadian Football Leagues. It is ironic that the perennial Canadian all star from Rin- ton, Washington almost didn't play the game of football at all. "Playing pro football was never part of my thinking when I was in George mused when I visited him in Regina. "Nobody drafted me in the National League, but then someone from the B.C. Lions talked to me about playing ball in Canada. They mustn't have thought much of me, though, because they traded me right away to Saskatchewan for a draft choice or something." The NFL ignored Reed, just as they did Wayne Harris, despite a good college career. While at Washington, Reed played 55 minutes a game dur- ing his junior and senior years. He was a Pacific Eight all-star. But the pros thought he was too small for a fullback at 6 feet and 195 pounds, and too slow to be a halfback. However, George wasn't all that disappointed about not playing in the NFL. "Naturally you aim for the NFL when you're a kid in high school and college, and it would have been nice to have played in my own country, and in front of my own people. But I've had several good offers to go back and play in the NFL. However, my best living can be made here, and we're happy here, although we do miss not being around more black people." George Reed is proud of his race, and his heritage. He got into trouble in Regina in the mid 60's by calling the Queen City "worse than Alabama" for blacks. Given the attitude in Canadian football about blacks who speak their minds on issues, especially race, it goes almost without saying that Reed would have been run out of the league long ago if he weren't such a superb performer on the field. "No question about reacted George, "that's just the way it is up here." Reed rejects that cherished Canadian notion that racial pre- judice doesn't exist north of the 49th parallel. "I have no illusions about said Reed. "If I wasn't George Reed, football player, most of the people who glad hand and welcome me wouldn't give me the time of day. When we moved to Regina, a long time went by before anyone on the block would talk to my wife. My kids were subject to constant abuse as well.. name calling, that kind of thing. But if you're black you come to expect that kind of treatment whether in Regina or Seattle or, yes, Alabama." George Reed has always been a man willing to speak his mind and take a stand. His courage and his intelligence made him a natural for the position of president of the Canadian Foot- jail League Players' Association. George won respect from all the players in the organization as well as those who bargained with him across the table. But he lad to be good to win that respect, speak out on issues and lead the players through a successful strike and survive. Reed stands up for the rights of football players as adult numan beings. "You can't treat players like dogs anymore. If you holler and drive people, they'll resent it and rightfully ae claims "If you kick players around, they'll rebel. And you :an't go around paying people peanuts anymore, either. We got a minimum guaranteed salary for Canadian ball players of 000 a year. Last year there were quite a few guys playing foot- sail for less than a year." Reed reflects his views on the rights of athletes by the manner in which he rates coaches. "My first pro coach was Bob ahaw, here in he recalled. "I would have quit football if he had stayed. He didn't treat us like men. Eagle Keys was a tremendous coach. Besides his great knowledge of the game, Eagle treated his players in a way that they wanted to play for lim. Dave Skrein was coach, I seriously considered retiring, and would have if they hadn't hired John Payne. Payne is a wonderful coach to play for. If you can make a suggestion to improve practices, or you think something will work in a game, ie listens to you and will give it a try. He's great to play for." With the possible exception of baseball star Lou Brock, George Reed is the most remarkable athlete on the North American continent. The average career span of a back in pro football is five years. Reed is currently in his 12th CFL season, and is leading the league in rushing. He is third in the Western Conference in pass receptions. He holds every rushing record in irofessional football except 0- J- Simpson's record of most yards gained in a single season. At the age of 34, No. 34 of the Saskatchewan Roughriders is having a great season that could lead to another Grey Cup berth. Keep in mind, also, that since Reed and Ron Lancaster irrived in Regina 12 years ago. the Roughriders have never mis- sed the playoffs. They have been in the Western final nine of those 12 years with four Grey Cup appearances and one victory. Saskatchewan, with Reed and Lancaster, has had the win- ningest record in the CFL over the past decade. What about the future? "Sure I'd accept a head coaching job." he admits. "I'd like to coach." There is also a bit of the Henry Aaron reasoning here too. the bit about a black man accepting the offer to open the door for others. That would be characteristic of Reed. In looking back over his career. Reed says that the game has taught him much. "The harsh reality of pro football has taught me important lessons in life. It gives one a sense of dis- cipline to do things in life. I've got a real good look at how a business operates. You learn to get along with people and respect them. I owe a great deal to football. I love the fame." George Reed, superstar. Australians confident of Americas Cup win SYDNEY. Australia. Reuierf The head of the Xustraiian syndicate owning Smitoern Cross, challenger for the Americas Cup. says his wilJ beat United Stales defender. Courageous, four to three. Alan Bond, on a visit home rom Newport. R.I... told a icws conference Tuesday: 'We are equal to Courageous in light winds and have a lefinite advantage in medium-to-heavy winds." Bond, a millionaire proper- y developer in Western Australia, said American vachtsmen were piling on psy- chological pressure at New- jort prior to the start of the Americas Cop races Sept. 10. "They are trying to make us psychologically uneasy." he said. "But we will still win. We will beat them four to three." BOTH! said Southern Cross's skipper. Jim Hardy, and his crew were confident. "We said we would an- nihilate France