Born on Octobеr 2, 1939, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Gеorgе Rееd was morе than just a cеlеbratеd footballеr; hе was an еmblеm of community spirit and philanthropy. Growing up in Rеnton, Washington, hе showcasеd his athlеtic prowеss whilе playing for thе Washington Statе Univеrsity Cougars. With 1,216 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in thrее sеasons, hе bеcamе a significant figurе in collеgе football. Not еvеn a dеvastating lеg injury in 1960 could dеtеr Rееd, as hе rеcovеrеd with unwavеring dеtеrmination.
Reed’s Records in the Canadian Football League
George Reed, during his CFL career from 1963 to 1975 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, engraved his name in history books. His records – 16,116 rushing yards, 134 rushing touchdowns, and 137 overall TDs – remain unparalleled. With nine CFL all-star titles and being the West Division all-star 11 times, Reed’s sporting achievements showcased his athletic supremacy.
A Golden Moment: The 1966 Grey Cup Victory
The Roughriders’ first Grey Cup on November 26, 1966, was, in many ways, George Reed’s crowning glory. Contributing a staggering 133 rushing yards to the victory, including a 31-yard touchdown, he played a pivotal role in Saskatchewan’s 29-14 win over the Ottawa Rough Riders. That game in Vancouver became a testament to Reed’s unmatched prowess.
Hall of Fames and Recognitions: A Life Celebrated
Reed’s unparalleled accomplishments on the field didn’t go unnoticed. In 1979, he was honored with inductions into both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. Later, in 1987, the Riders’ Plaza of Honour added his name, further solidifying his legendary status in the realm of Canadian football.
George Reed: A Philanthropist at Heart
Beyond the roaring stadiums and his dazzling records, George Reed’s heart beat for the community. At one point, he was actively associated with 47 charitable and community groups. From setting up Special Olympics Saskatchewan to his dedicated service at Molson’s Breweries, Reed’s off-field contributions are as remarkable as his on-field exploits.
Reed’s Service as President of CFL’s Players’ Association
Juggling his illustrious football career, Reed also took on administrative responsibilities. He served as the president of the Canadian Football League’s Players’ Association for 13 years within a 19-year span. His leadership and commitment towards players’ rights and welfare showcased his multifaceted personality.
Mobility Challenges and the Community’s Response
In 2019, Reed’s mobility issues came to the forefront after multiple surgeries. Witnessing the challenges faced by the CFL legend, long-time friend Eric Johnson, along with his wife Shirley Wagman, initiated a GoFundMe campaign titled “The Great George Reed No. 34 Needs Our Help.” The outpouring of support, exceeding the goal by almost $20,000, demonstrated the community’s deep-rooted respect for Reed.
Reed’s Personal Touch: The Man Behind the Legend
Never one to deny an autograph or skip a fundraiser, Reed remained accessible and humble. Dale West, Reed’s former teammate, encapsulated this sentiment, observing that Reed represented the epitome of both a professional football player and a remarkable human being.
In essence, George Reed’s life was not just about breaking records or winning matches; it was about touching lives, both on and off the field. His legacy, an intricate blend of sporting brilliance and human compassion, will be cherished for generations to come.