Videos: Russ Jackson, Football
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Well when I joined the Rough Riders in 1958, I don’t think I really went there with the idea that I was going to be the next quarterback in Ottawa. I had played both quarterback and defensive back with McMaster Marauders in Hamilton and when I went there I made the team in ’58 as a defensive back and started the season playing defensive back. And I was sort of a third-string quarterback with Tom Dimitroff and Hal Ledyard being the two incumbent American quarterbacks. Eventually both of them got hurt, later that year I got a chance to play and things worked out well for me in terms of the offense that Ottawa was running at that time. And I guess you can say the rest is history. I just fell into the right place at the right time and was successful. And then after that it became a matter of a couple of years before I established myself as really the number one quarterback.
1969 was a very special year for me because after the 1968 season and we won the Grey Cup beating Calgary that year, I went in and told Coach Clair that the next year would be my last year because I had always told him in previous years that I would let him know when I was getting out of the game. He’d put a lot of faith in me as a Canadian kid playing quarterback in the early sixties and over the last five or six years really he didn’t bring anybody in to challenge me. I mean it was my job from the day we went to training camp. It was very difficult as the season went along in ’69 when I’d go into say Saskatchewan, into Regina – you’d sit in the dressing room after that game and say, “This is the last time I’m going to be here.” And it was a little emotional. And then going on and winning the Grey Cup – the game ended, everybody is so happy because we won the two times, two Grey Cups in a row. I knew it was my last game. Later that night when all of a sudden we’re celebrating after we’d got out of the old football jerseys and got ourselves to have a little celebration with our families and friends back at the hotel we were staying at in Montreal, and that’s when it sort of hit me that you know, this is it. It’s over. Like you’re not going to be doing this again. And that was sort of the, the time I think there was about an hour that evening where I sort of felt just relived 12 years of professional football.
In 1969 when I won the Lionel Conacher Award, it was special. It’s always special to get recognition. There’s no question about that. And as an individual athlete that’s the epitome of your career. As a team athlete which I was, some of the accolades that I got are, as far as I’m concerned they’re team orientated. They’re part of being a member of a real good team. But it was a it was a very rewarding and successful year. A little emotional at times too.