CFL Alumni Man of the Year 2009 – Sam Etcheverry

CFL Alumni Man of the Year 2009
Award accepted by his son Steve Etcheverry.

“This award means a lot to our family, and would have meant the world to my father,” said Sam’s son Steve, who accepted the honour on the weekend on behalf of the Etcheverry family.

“The time Dad spent with former teammates and opponents were precious to him, and the work he did on behalf of the game he loved, and the community that loved him, was precious to all of us.”

This the first year of the CFL Alumni Man of the Year Award, presented to a former CFL player who is active in his local alumni association, has achieved a successful transition to a career after football, and has served his community and charitable causes.

“As CFL Alumni, we value the connection we have to one another, our ability to serve the broader community, and the need to act with compassion, towards former players in need, and all those around us who need our help,” said Reg Low, President of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers alumni association, and chair of the award’s selection committee.

“So it was natural to choose Sam as our first honouree. He was a legendary player, a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Grey Cup winning coach, who made Montreal his home, and football and community service his twin passions.”

Etcheverry was instrumental in forming the Montreal Alouettes Alumni Association in 1974, one of the first such groups in the CFL, with a goal to raise funds for the less fortunate, provide financial support to the football community, and give former players a reason to maintain their bond. It has been a driving force in Montreal ever since, even when the city didn’t have a CFL team.

He was the first chair of the association’s annual golf tournament, and stayed in the post for 25 years, helping to raise more than $800,000 for various charities.

“Long after he stopped throwing touchdowns, even after his number 92 was retired, Sam Etcheverry was the face of football in Montreal, lending a hand wherever it was needed,” said Peter Dalla Riva, another legendary Montreal Alouettes who played for Etcheverry as a coach.

“None of has achieved more for businesses, the community and football. The fact he left us so recently makes this honour all the more poignant for all of his who knew him, and respected him.”

Etcheverry was actually chosen from a list of deserving nominees for the award before he passed away this past August 29th. The presentation to his family was part of an event held at the Manitoba Club, with all proceeds from the event going to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Alumni, the CFL Alumni Association, and the CFL Alumni Dire Needs Fund, which supports former players that have experienced medical or other life challenges.

An Alouettes player from 1952 to 1960, he led Montreal to three Grey Cup appearances. Today, a half century after his playing days in the league ended, he still holds the record for the most passing yards in a Grey Cup game (508 in 1955), and the record for the most consecutive games with a passing touchdown (34 games, from 1954 to 1956).

He is tied for the record for the longest pass completion (109 yards in 1956.) He threw for 586 yards in a game in 1954, setting a single-game record that stood for 39 years, a feat which still stands third on the all-time list.

Etcheverry returned to the Als in 1970 to coach the team, leading them to a Grey Cup title in his first season. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

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