Sam Etcheverry

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Sam Etcheverry
No. 92
Sam "The Rifle" Etcheverry of the Montreal Alouettes football team Sam « The Rifle » Etcheverry de l'équipe de football des Alouettes de Montréal.jpg
Born:(1930-05-20)May 20, 1930
Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States
Died:August 29, 2009(2009-08-29) (aged 79)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Career information
Position(s)Quarterback
CollegeDenver
Career history
As player
1952–1960Montreal Alouettes
1961–1962St. Louis Cardinals
1963San Francisco 49ers
Awards1954 Schenley Most Outstanding Player Award
1954 Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy
1958 Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy
Career stats

Samuel "The Rifle" Etcheverry (May 20, 1930 – August 29, 2009) was a professional American and Canadian football player and head coach. Etcheverry played the quarterback position, most famously with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, and was named Canadian football's Most Outstanding Player in 1954. Etcheverry's jersey #92 is one of seven retired by the Alouettes.[1]

Etcheverry is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and in 2006, was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (#26) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.[2]

College career[edit]

Etcheverry was the son of Basque sheep farmers who emigrated to New Mexico.[3] Known as "The Rifle", Etcheverry played for the University of Denver from 1949 to 1951 where he still holds most of the Pioneers' football records for passing offense.

Professional football career[edit]

Etcheverry in 1961

In 1952, Etcheverry joined the Montreal Alouettes of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (which became part of the Canadian Football League in 1958 and was renamed the Eastern Football Conference in 1960). As his team's quarterback, he was twice voted "Most Outstanding Player" of the eastern union and was named an eastern all-star six times (1953–1957, 1960). In 1954, Etcheverry was awarded the Schenley Award (most outstanding player in the Canadian Rugby Union).

Etcheverry set a single-game passing record of 586 yards in 1954 that stood for 39 years until the 1993 CFL season. He also set a season passing record in 1954 of 3,610 yards that was not only a CFL record but also eclipsed the NFL record set in the 1947 NFL season by Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins. He led the CFL in passing from 1954 to 1959. In 1956, he became the first professional quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards; his record of 4,723 passing yards would stand until 1981 when it was passed by Dieter Brock and Dan Fouts. Etcheverry still holds the record for most passing yards in a Grey Cup game with 508 set in a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in the 1955 game.

A sports icon in the city of Montreal, when Etcheverry and star receiver Hal Patterson were traded to the last-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1960, it caused an enormous public outcry and led to Etcheverry leaving the Canadian Football League and signing with the St. Louis Cardinals of the National Football League, playing for St. Louis during 1961–62. During 1963 Training Camp, he was demoted to third string by the Cardinals, and asked to be released from his contract. After the Cardinals released him, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers, but was released before the 1963 season started.[4]

Career regular season statistics[5][edit]

Statistics Passing Punting
Year Team GP Att Com % Yds TD Int Lg # Yds Ave. Lg S
1952 Montreal Alouettes 12 235 140 59.6 2084 9 18 - - - - -
1953 Montreal Alouettes 14 343 166 48.4 2714 24 32 - - - - -
1954 Montreal Alouettes 14 372 206 55.4 3610 25 29 105 3 131 43.7 60 0
1955 Montreal Alouettes 12 400 227 56.8 3657 30 24 84 19 733 38.6 51 1
1956 Montreal Alouettes 14 446 276 61.9 4723 32 23 109 48 1968 41.0 56 3
1957 Montreal Alouettes 14 408 215 52.7 3341 14 22 88 66 2634 39.9 55 4
1958 Montreal Alouettes 14 423 247 58.4 3548 18 25 87 145 5668 39.1 80 3
1959 Montreal Alouettes 14 402 231 57.5 3133 10 21 80 131 4937 37.7 60 6
1960 Montreal Alouettes 14 378 229 60.6 3571 24 19 98 102 4196 41.1 61 10
1961 St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) 14 196 96 49.0 1275 14 11 78 - - - - x
1962 St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) 14 106 58 54.7 707 2 10 68 59 2259 38.3 61 x
CFL Totals 3407 1937 56.9 30381 186 213 109 514 20267 39.4 80 27
NFL Totals 302 154 51.0 1982 16 21 78 59 2259 38.3 61 x
Totals 3709 2091 56.4 32363 202 234 109 573 22526 39.3 80 27

Coaching career[edit]

Etcheverry returned to Canada in 1964 as the head coach of the Quebec Rifles of the United Football League.[6] The league folded at the end of the season and Etcheverry remained out of coaching until 1967 when he became an assistant at Loyola College in Montreal.[7]

On December 9, 1969, Etcheverry was hired to coach the Alouettes.[8] In his first season, he led the Alouettes to a 3rd place finish in the Eastern Football Conference with a 7–6–1 record (worst out of the six teams that qualified for the playoffs in the league, which had nine teams at the time that gave three spots to both conferences). They beat Toronto 16–6 to advance to the best-of-2 Eastern Finals against Hamilton. They won 32–22 and 11–4 to advance to the 58th Grey Cup championship game versus the Calgary Stampeders. In a muddy natural grass field (the last for a Grey Cup for over a decade) detested by both teams in Toronto, Montreal prevailed 23–10. The next year, they went 6–8 and missed the playoffs after Ottawa beat them on tiebreakers. They finished 4–10 the next year, but as three teams were guaranteed to make it from the East, Montreal's one game advantage over fourth place Toronto meant a playoff birth. Facing Ottawa in the semifinals, they lost 14–11 to the Rough Ridwrs. He resigned at the end of the 1972 CFL season.[9] His overall record is 14–24–1.

In 1982, he became the general manager and president of the Montreal Concordes. Etcheverry was fired shortly before the start of the 1983 season and head coach Joe Galat replaced him as general manager.[10]

Following the demise of the Concordes, Etcheverry joined a group interested in bringing an NFL franchise to Montreal.[11] He was one of the group's representatives at the 1988 NFL owners meeting.[12]

Head coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post-season
Won Lost Ties Points Finish Won Lost Result
Alouettes 1970 7 6 1 15 3rd 4 0 Won Grey Cup
Alouettes 1971 6 8 0 12 4th 0 0 missed playoffs
Alouettes 1972 4 10 0 8 3rd 0 1 lost Divisional playoff
Totals 17 24 1 35 4 1 1 Grey Cup

Awards and honours[edit]

Etcheverry was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1969 and was an inaugural inductee into the University of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame upon its formation in 1996.

In November, 2006, Etcheverry was chosen 26th amongst the CFL's 50 Greatest Players in a TSN poll.[2]

Death[edit]

Etcheverry died of cancer in Montreal on August 29, 2009.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pringle's No. 27 retired by Als". CBC.ca. 2005-07-02. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
  2. ^ a b "TSN Top 50 CFL Players". TSN.ca. 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
  3. ^ a b "Canadian Press obituary".
  4. ^ "Why the Cardinals Signed Sam Etcheverry". thebigredzone.com. May 17, 2020. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  5. ^ "Samuel Etcheverry football statistics on StatsCrew.com".
  6. ^ "Spokane Daily Chronicle - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  7. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=YTUOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=s38DAAAAIBAJ&pg=3218,1297232&dq=[dead link]
  8. ^ "Spokane Daily Chronicle - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  9. ^ "Lakeland Ledger - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  10. ^ "Ellensburg Daily Record - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  11. ^ "Etcheverry joins group seeking NFL franchise for Montreal". February 11, 1988.
  12. ^ Goyens, Chrys (January 17, 1989). "Montreal a step closer to NFL?".