Sam Etcheverry, the legendary quarterback who led the Montreal Alouettes to three Grey Cup championships in the 1950s then later coached them to another, has died at the age of 79.
Etcheverry died Saturday morning following a long battle with cancer.
One of the most remarkable players in team and Canadian Football League history, Etcheverry quarterbacked the Alouettes from 1952 to 1960, setting virtually every team passing record. He totalled 30,303 yards and 186 touchdowns on 1,969 completions.
He led the Als to Grey Cup appearances in 1954, ’55 and ’56. In 1954, Etcheverry won the Schenley Award as the CFL’s best player. Two years later, he became the first quarterback in CFL history to reach 4,000 passing yards in a season.
He threw for 508 yards in the 1955 Grey Cup, setting a record that still stands.
A six-time CFL all-star, Etcheverry came back to the Als in 1970 as head coach, leading the team to a Grey Cup win over the Calgary Stampeders.
Peter Dalla Riva spent 14 seasons as an Alouettes tight end and was on that Cup-winning club in 1970.
“Sam was a legend. He treated you like an ordinary person, and wouldn’t yell and scream,” Dalla Riva said recently. “I had a lot of respect for him.
“We played hard and good things happened. Sam did a great job and we all stayed together.”
Etcheverry’s No. 92 jersey was retired by the Alouettes in 1996. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame on Nov. 28, 1969.All of us in the Canadian Football League feel a pang of sorrow, and a debt of gratitude, upon hearing of the passing of one of our legends, Sam Etcheverry,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said Saturday. “It is sometimes said of us fortunate enough to follow great men and women that we stand on the shoulders of giants. In the CFL, it is equally true that we have travelled far on the strong arms of great quarterbacks, and no one was better than Sam ‘The Rifle.’ ”Cohon added: “He not only led his team on the field and later from the sideline; he was one of the superstars who helped lead our league into a modern, new age. Sam Etcheverry will be sorely missed, fondly remembered, and forever listed among the greats who carried our league forward, with each and every pass" ..........................................here's the obit that appears in today's Gazette,Sept OBITUARY SAM ETCHEVERRY It is with great sadness that the family announces the passing of Sam Etcheverry on Saturday, August 29, 2009 in Montreal after a courageous battle with cancer. He was seventy-nine years old. Sam will be sadly missed by his wife Sinikka, children Steve (Sue), Mike, Nancy (Jeff), Jennifer (Bob), grandchildren Jenna, Krista, Zachary, Riley and Taylor and step-children. The family would like to thank Dr. Geoffrey Blake and the physicians, nurses and staff at Montreal General Hospital for their compassionate care of Sam. A visitation will be held at Mount Royal Funeral Complex on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., 1297 Chemin de la Foret, Outremont. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 2 p.m. at St Patrick's Basilica, 460 Rene-Levesque Blvd. W., Montreal, preceded by a visitation from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations would be greatly appreciated to the Jim Etcheverry Scholarship Fundre of Bishop's University attention Dave McBride 819-822-9600 or Le Garde Manger Pour Tous or Success for Youth Foundation both care of the Alouette Head Office -