Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Argos Star Quarterback and Head Coach Nobby Wirkowski Dies at 88

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Argos Star Quarterback and Head Coach Nobby Wirkowski Dies at 88

Article excerpt

Former Argos star Nobby Wirkowski dies

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TORONTO - Nobby Wirkowski, who experienced highs and lows with the Toronto Argonauts during the 1950s, has died at the age of 88.

The death of the longtime Mississauga, Ont., resident was confirmed Thursday by the CFL team.

Wirkowski, a Chicago native, spent most of five seasons with the Argos as a player and quarterbacked the team to the 1952 Grey Cup championship. He later became head coach.

Wirkowski, with a receiving corps that included Royal Copeland, Bill Bass, Rod Smylie and Zeke O'Connor, led the Argos past Hamilton, Sarnia and finally Edmonton to win their 10th Grey Cup championship.

He ran for a touchdown and threw for another in a 21-11 win over the Eskimos before 27,391 at Toronto's Varsity Stadium. The Argonauts did not win another Grey Cup until 1983.

Toronto's lack of success in the two seasons after its Grey Cup win led to a fan backlash with Wirkowski bearing the brunt. Viewed as a poor runner, he fared badly at times behind a weak offensive line.

In 1953, the Double Blue finished last in the East and scored only 172 points all season, their lowest output since 1948. In '54, the team was out of the playoffs again in third place although Wirkowski set a career passing mark with 62 TD passes.

Toronto manager Harry Sonshine said Wirkowski would not quarterback his team again and recruited Tom Dublinski from the Detroit Lions for a reported two year no-cut contract worth $17,000 annually. The Lions later sued Toronto for enticing away three of their players.

Coach Frank Clair had not wanted to part with Wirkowski and left to coach the University of Cincinnati.

Wirkowski was dealt to Hamilton with two other players for defensive halfback Dick Brown in a blockbuster trade in June 1955.

A Canadian Press story at the time referred to Wirkowski as "more often a bum than a hero to Toronto fans although one of the best passers in Canadian football. …

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