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Fans name Edmonton Elks All-Time All-Stars

Click to play video: 'What’s in a name? How the Edmonton Elks moniker came to be' What’s in a name? How the Edmonton Elks moniker came to be
For decades, the team was known as the Edmonton Eskimos. Now, they're the Edmonton Elks. John Sexsmith looks back at how the name change came to be and the process behind picking the new moniker – Jun 1, 2021

The fans have spoken.

In fact, over 25,000 votes were cast to select the best players in the history of the Edmonton Elks franchise.

Read more: Edmonton’s football team now Edmonton Elks

Over the years, so many great players have led the Green and Gold onto the field. The list includes hall of famers, Grey Cup champions and fan favorites from several eras.

Each day, starting July 26, Elks play-by-play announcer Morley Scott will unveil the finalists for two positions during 630 CHED Mornings with Daryl McIntyre.

Then the winners will be announced during Global News Hour at 6, at 6 p.m. on Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins, as well as right here in this story post.

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Will your pick be named one of the Edmonton Elks All-Time All-Stars?

Special teams

This was easy and the results were never in doubt. Winning the vote with the widest margin of any position is Henry “Gizmo” Williams.

Not just the best special teams player to play in Edmonton, but the best to ever play in the CFL — maybe in all of football. Gizmo received more votes that any other player in our poll.

No one can match the stats the Giz put up in his 15 seasons in Edmonton.

Gizmo arrived in 1986 and, except for a season in the NFL with Philadelphia in 1989, has remained in Edmonton ever since.

His numbers are spectacular; he holds more than 20 CFL records for kick returns, including 31 touchdowns. Twenty-six of those returns came on punts. That’s 15 more than Earl Winfield, who is second all time.

Williams is on the Elks Wall of Honour and in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and remains a fan favourite to this day.

Top four:

  1. Gizmo Williams: 47.1%
  2. Dave Cutler: 14.5%
  3. Larry Highbaugh: 13.9%
  4. Hank Illesic: 8.1%

Defensive line

“Doctor Death” Dave Fennell, one of the anchors of the “Alberta Crude” defense that shut down the CFL while winning five Grey Cups in a row from 1978 to 1982, earned 24.8 % of the vote to take the title on the D-Line.

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Fennell was named the CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 1978 and the Most Outstanding Canadian Player in 1979. Maybe the most impressive stat from Fennels’ 10-year career was playing in eight Grey Cup games and winning six. The hall of famer was a CFL All-Star for five straight seasons between 1977 and 1981 and was named top defensive player in the Grey Cup game twice.

Top four:

  1. Dave Fennell: 24.8%
  2. Almondo Sewell: 16.1%
  3. James Quick Parker: 14.0%
  4. Odell Willis 13.2%

Each day, starting July 26, Elks play-by-play announcer Morley Scott is unveiling the finalists for two positions during 630 CHED Mornings with Daryl McIntyre.

Then the winners will be announced during Global News Hour at 6, and at 6 p.m. on Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins, as well as right here in this story post.

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Read more: New name, new season: Edmonton Elks president eager for football fans to return to stands

Linebackers

A five-time CFL All-Star in his 10-year career, Dan Kepley is not only the greatest linebacker in Edmonton history, but is in the conversation as one of the best linebackers of all time in CFL history.

Kepley, who received one third of the votes, finished well ahead of a star-studded group of linebackers that includes several hall of famers. No. 42 came north from Albemarle, N.C., in 1975 and ended up spending 20 years with the green and gold — 10 as a player and another 10 as a coach. Kep played in seven Grey Cup games — winning six — then earned two more rings as a member of the coaching staff.

Kepley is in the small group of players that won five Grey Cups in row from 1978 to 1982.

The three-time CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player award winner is on the Elks Wall of Honour and was named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Top four:

  1. Dan Kepley: 33.3%
  2. Willie Pless: 20.1%
  3. JC Sherritt: 12.5%
  4. Danny Bass: 11.8%

Defensive backs

Larry Highbaugh, another member of the five-in-a-row team, finished top four in two categories on the Elks All-Time All-Stars list. Highbaugh, who passed away in 2017, was third in special teams voting and first among defensive backs with just over 31 per cent of the votes.

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The diminutive DB is first all time in interceptions and interception return yards for the green and gold with 66 picks and 770 yards. Those numbers were accumulated in 12 seasons in Edmonton.

An Elks Wall of Honour member and Canadian football hall of famer, Highbaugh was a three-sport athlete in high school playing football, basketball and also competing on the track team. He won six Grey Cups and was named a CFL All-Star three times.

Many remember Highbaugh for his school visits where he would play as a one-man team vs. school volleyball teams, winning more times than he lost.

  1. Larry Highbaugh: 31.1%
  2. Jackie Parker: 19.1%
  3. Aaron Grymes: 10.9%
  4. Joe Holliman: 10.3%

Offensive Line

Hector Pothier showed up in Edmonton in 1978 and promptly won five straight Grey Cups. As well as having excellent timing, Pothier was a key part of a legendary offensive line.

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He finished his 12-year career with six cups and 192 games played — fourth among offensive lineman in Elks history and eighth among all players in Edmonton.

Pothier, who has remained in Edmonton since his retirement in 1989, earned 23.7 per cent of the vote in one of the closest votes across all positions.

Pothier is on the Elks Wall of Honour, but a well-earned call to the Canadian Football Hall of fame has so far eluded him.

The top four in the O-line category had their careers all overlap. All four were on the roster between 1983 and 1988.

  1. Hector Pothier: 23.7 per cent
  2. Rod Connop: 19.3 per cent
  3. Bill Stevenson: 14.23 per cent
  4. Blake Dermott: 14.20 per cent
Global News. Global News

Running backs

Voters went old school at running back as some of the most iconic players in team history got the majority of the votes. This was also the closest vote with just under 6 per cent separating first from fourth.

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In the end, Normie Kwong was the top vote getter with 19.2 per cent.

Kwong arrived in Edmonton from the Calgary Stampeders in 1951 and became Edmonton’s second leading rusher all time with 8,769 yards and still holds the team record for career rushing touchdowns at 73.

Kwong went into politics after he retired and was named the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in 2005.

He also has completed a rare sports double: Kwong was a part owner of the Calgary Flames in 1989 when they won the Stanley Cup, putting him on a very short list of people that have their names on both the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup.

  1. Normie Kwong: 19.2 per cent
  2. Johnny Bright: 16.1 per cent
  3. Jackie Parker: 13.8 per cent
  4. Jim Germany: 13.3 per cent
Global News. Global News

Receiver

In his first season in the CFL in 1979, Brian Kelly was named CFL Most Outstanding Rookie. After he retired in 1987, he was quickly added to the Elks Wall of Honour in 1989 and to the Canadian Football Hall of fame in 1991.

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Kelly’s name comes up more than any other receiver in team history. He holds several team records: most career receptions (575), most career receiving yards (11,169) most career receiving touchdowns (97), most receiving yards one season (1,812), most 100-yard games (41) and most 200-yard games (6)

The Washington state grad also won five Grey Cups in green and gold.

  1. Brian Kelly: 27.6 per cent
  2. Fred Stamps: 14.1 per cent
  3. George McGowan: 8.9 per cent
  4. Jason Tucker: 8.1 per cent
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Quarterback

A member of both the Canadian and U.S. Football Halls of Fame, Warren Moon was the clear cut top vote getter among quarterbacks — finishing well ahead of Ricky Ray.

From 1978 to 1983, Moon played in Edmonton and won five Grey Cups. He led the CFL in passing yards twice and in touchdown passes three times. In his final season, Moon was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player before he left for his second hall-of-fame career in the NFL.

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The quintessential “Number 1” quarterback made a lasting mark on Edmonton football fans that clearly has lasted almost 40 years since he left.

Moon still shares two team records: most touchdown passes in a season at 36 and most touchdown passes in a game at five.

Moon is on the Elks Wall of Honour and his number 1 is unofficially retired as he goes down as one of the greatest players in team history.

  1. Warren Moon: 41.4 per cent
  2. Ricky Ray: 14.9 per cent
  3. Tom Wilkinson: 13.0 per cent
  4. Jackie Parker: 9.7 per cent
Global News. Global News
Click to play video: 'Meet the Edmonton Elks football team' Meet the Edmonton Elks football team
Meet the Edmonton Elks football team – Jun 1, 2021

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