CFLAA Legends of the Game Profile – Willie Pless

Prior to his hall of fame career in the CFL, linebacker Willie Pless had an outstanding college career at the University of Kansas. During his time with the Jayhawks, Pless had 633 tackles and was an All-Big Eight Academic first team all-star. As well, Pless was elected as the all-time best linebacker in the history of Big Eight after it became the Big Twelve.

Considered one of the greatest linebackers ever to play in the CFL, Pless saw action with four teams, the Toronto Argonauts (1986-89), BC Lions (1990), Edmonton Eskimos (1991-1998) and Saskatchewan Roughriders (1999).

The five-time CFL outstanding defensive player finished his 250-game career as the CFL all-time leader in defensive tackles with 1,241. That included seven seasons with over 100 tackles. Pless also added 84 quarterback sacks, 39 interceptions and 39 fumble recoveries.

After the 1989 season, Pless was also part of the blockbuster trade that saw DL Jearld Baylis, QB Rick Johnson, WR Emanual Tolbert, LB Tony Visco and DB Todd Wiseman move to the BC Lions for QB Matt Dunnigan.

Pless, an 11-time CFL all-star, also played in 18 playoff games and appeared in three Grey Cup Championship games, winning the 1993 Grey Cup with the Eskimos.

A member of the Eskimo Wall of Honour, Pless still holds many Edmonton team records.

The very personable Pless was honoured for his dedication to football and his incredible playing career when he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Article written by Tony Playter
Photo Courtesy of CFL Scrapbook

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