- Game Day
- Double Blue Post
- Argos Alumni
It was a long time coming, but on Friday night the wait ended for Terry Greer – he was finally inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m just ecstatic about it,” Greer told Argonauts.ca. “It’s been a long time.”
That’s a grotesque understatement. Greer concluded his CFL career in 1985 before heading to the NFL, where he’d become the first player to win a Grey Cup (Toronto) and a Super Bowl (San Francisco). While by no means a star in the NFL, the impact he had over his six seasons in Double Blue was palpable.
His lengthy omission from the Hall was cringeworthy.
Greer became the first receiver in pro-football history to record a 2,000-yard season, amassing 2,003 yards in 1983 – in just 16 games. He’s the only player in CFL history to record three consecutive 200-yard receiving games. He helped turn around a franchise that hadn’t won a Grey Cup in over 30 years, culminating with the 1983 championship.
Listing the accomplishments is easy to do. Understanding the reasons why Greer was so great is best left to those who played with and against him.
Entering the CFHOF as a fellow member of the 2019 Class is “Swervin’” Mervyn Fernandez. Like Greer, a tall receiver with great speed, Fernandez spent the 1982-86 seasons with the B.C. Lions before heading to the Los Angeles Raiders for six years, then returning to B.C for one final season.
What did he see when he looked at Greer doing his thing?
“I saw a great wide receiver doing his job,” said Fernandez. “He gave our defensive backs lots of fits. He’d score a touchdown, I’d score one. He’d score two, I’d score two, it was that kind of battle on the field.”
The grin on Fernandez’s face got bigger and bigger as he recalled those battles, but he admitted to Argonauts.ca that it wasn’t the memories of those days of yore that made him happiest when speaking about Greer.
“It was really nice to meet him,” Fernandez said of his fellow inductee. “When we were playing it was just ‘good game, see you later’. This is the first time I’ve spoken to him, or spent any time with him and got to meet his family and likewise. He’s a great guy. He’s a good tribute to the CFL.”
Fernandez smiled again and used the word ‘impressive’ when asked what he thought of Greer’s 2,003-yard season. When you consider that only three players have hit that mark in CFL history, it underscores just how ‘impressive’ the feat is.
Calgary’s Allen Pitts is the only player with more receiving yards in a season than Greer, recording 2,036 in 1994. The only other player to hit that milestone is Derrell Mitchell, who accumulated an even 2,000 yards with the Argos in 1998.
“Mookie” never had the chance to see Greer play, but heard all about him when he came to Toronto, especially when he started getting close to joining that most exclusive club.
“It was a hell of an accomplishment,” said Mitchell of Greer. “The fans that were able to watch him perform said he was a hell of a receiver and he was a class act.”
Mitchell shook his head in disbelief when reminded Greer hit the 2,000-yard mark in just 16 games,
“You just have to give credit to great athletes,” Mitchell told Argonauts.ca. “I had those extra two games that he didn’t, so hats off to him, kudos to him for the hard work and dedication he put in to get the 2,000-yard plateau.”
While it’s fun for most people to reminisce about the exploits of players like Greer, Fernandez and Mitchell, that warm feeling is far from unanimous. You see, there’s this group of players called defensive backs…
Less Browne is another member of the Hall of Fame who was on hand for the induction ceremony. Browne is the CFL’s all-time interception leader with 87 career picks. He then spent a couple of seasons analyzing games as a member of the CFL on TSN panel.
If anyone knows how to break down what made Greer great, it’s him.
“He had great hands and he ran great routes,” Browne told Argonauts.ca. “He understood defences, so he could read if you were going to be in a zone, or if you were going to be in man (man-to-man coverage). He had the whole package, along with speed. But like I said at the first, great hands, he could catch anything.”
Browne then went a little deeper.
“He’d set you up,” Browne explained. “He’d make you think he was going a different way, Terry was one of those players. I could predict when certain receivers were going to run certain routes because they ran them the same way. He would run his routes differently and get to the same position, but he’d get there a different way, which is very difficult to cover. You can’t really predict it, you just have to follow it, really.”
Browne never got an interception against Greer and admitted with a laugh that Greer “Kind of schooled me on a few things.” That doesn’t exactly put Browne in rarified company as Greer gave lessons to many defenders.
His time in Canada was essentially a CFL supernova. Greer’s career was that of a giant star that exploded, burned brightly for a relatively short period, then died when he took his talent south of the border.
For those who remember watching him play, those four years where he recorded over 1,000 yards shine as brightly as any era in Argo history. It’s only appropriate that he’s finally been recognized by the Hall of Fame for his tremendous contributions to the Canadian game.