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October 30, 2021

Legendary Rough Riders Quarterback Russ Jackson Honoured in Field-Naming Ceremony

By Brandon Maki

The City of Hamilton, Ontario paid tribute to one of Ottawa’s most legendary football figures, today. Russ Jackson, former Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback, was the subject of a ceremony where the football field at William Connell Park was officially named in his honour.

Russ Jackson speaking at naming of Russ Jackson Field

(Russ Jackson, wearing his 1969 Ottawa Rough Riders Grey Cup jersey, speaks at the unveiling of the Russ Jackson Football Field in Hamilton, Ont. Rick Zamperin/900 CHML)

 

Jackson, 85, was quarterback of the Rough Riders from 1958 to 1969: a 12-year stretch in which he never missed a game to injury. The Hamilton native led the Rough Riders to the playoffs in every single season of his career, completing 1,356 passes for 24,592 yards, and 185 touchdowns over that span.

In an incredibly decorated career, Jackson was a three-time CFL All-Star, three-time Most Outstanding Player, and four-time top Canadian. Jackson led the Rough Riders to three Grey Cup titles, earning MVP honours in the championship game in 1969, throwing a CFL record four touchdowns.

All told, Jackson’s career ended with 24,593 passing yards, and 185 touchdowns, 5,045 rushing yards, and 54 rushing touchdowns. He is the only Canadian quarterback in CFL history to surpass 10,000 career passing yards.

Old Russ Jackson Photo winning grey cup in black and white

Since retiring from football, Jackson has served as a secondary school teacher, vice-principal, and principal. He went into broadcasting, as a colour commentator with the CFL on CBC, and CHML-AM radio in Hamilton. Jackson also served two years as head coach of the Toronto Argonauts from 1975-1977.

The U Sports Russ Jackson Award, established in 1986, is handed out annually to the university football player “who best exhibits athletic ability, academic achievement, and devoted citizenship”. Jackson was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in law by McMaster University in 1989 and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Jackson was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1973, and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. His number, 12, is retired by the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

The Russ Jackson Football Field can be found at William Connell Park, 1086 West 5th Street in Hamilton.

Russ Jackson Field

(The Russ Jackson Football Field in Hamilton, Ont. Rick Zamperin/900 CHML)