Former Calgary Stampeders Star Linebacker Wayne Harris Dies at Age 77

The Canadian Press, June 4, 2015 | Go to article overview

Former Calgary Stampeders Star Linebacker Wayne Harris Dies at Age 77


Former Stamps great Harris dies at age 77

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CALGARY - Wayne Harris, who was named the MVP of the Calgary Stampeders' Grey Cup win in 1971, has died at the age of 77.

The Stampeders confirmed Harris's death in a release Thursday.

Harris was drafted by the Boston Patriots of the American Football League but opted to play for Calgary, spending his entire 12-year CFL career in Alberta. The six-foot, 195-pound native of Hampton, Ark., was the league's top lineman a record four times and named a league all-star on nine occasions.

He participated in three Grey Cup games, winning in '71 when the Stampeders edged the Toronto Argonauts 14-11 on a soggy Empire Stadium field. Late in the game, Argos running back Leon McQuay fumbled and Calgary's Reggie Holmes recovered.

Harris was named the game MVP.

Harris retired in 1972 and the following year Calgary retired his No. 55. He earned the nickname "Thumper" because of his bone-jarring hits and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1976.

In a 2009 story on the CFL's website, Harris said a high school coach gave him the moniker.

"One of my assistant coaches in high school said that they could hear the thump when I hit someone all the way in the top row of the stadium," he said. "That sort of stuck with me through my days in college and the Canadian Football League."

George Reed, the legendary former Saskatchewan Roughriders standout fullback, said Harris was a true competitor.

"I would say to anybody that I think Wayne Harris was my best competitor game in and game out," he said. "Sometimes he had the edge and sometimes I had the edge, but there were no hard feelings.

"We had some really raw battles."

Harris said he opted to play in the CFL rather than with the Patriots because it better suited his lifestyle.

"Basically the decision was made because I didn't want to go East, there are too many people down there," he said. …

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