C'mon, who is this?

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Rod Connop went about his business in a quiet fashion for 16 seasons.

And when the 45-year-old Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman retired following the 1997 campaign, he did so with little fanfare.

Connop thought he'd vanished from the CFL radar until he got a call informing him that he's one of four players slated for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame this year.

Even then he thought it was a practical joke.

"I did have kind of a comical discussion with Tom Wright, the (CFL) commissioner," Connop chuckled yesterday. "He phoned to tell me this honour had been bestowed on me and I sat there and said, 'C'mon, who is this?'

"He started laughing. Then there was a silent moment and he said, 'What are you thinking about?' I said, 'I'm trying to figure out whose voice this is.'

"Then he asked, 'How am I going to convince you?' I said, 'Email me. Here's my e-mail address.' He emailed a little note that read, 'Do you believe me now?' At that point I said, 'Hey, this is great!' "

Joining Connop on this year's list of inductees is teammate and former Esks' linebacker Willie Pless. Connop and Pless are the 28th and 29th members of the Green and Gold organization called to the Hall.

CRACKED THE LINEUP

The ninth-overall selection in the '82 Canadian college draft, Connop cracked Edmonton's lineup in his rookie season.

The Wilfred Laurier product played behind Eric Upton to start the year. Upton was moved from left guard to centre, while Connop took over for Upton at guard.

Connop holds the Esks' record for games played with 303. The six-time CFL all-star appeared in 274 regular season, 23 playoff and six Grey Cup games, earning a Cup ring in three of the six.

The Vancouver-born left guard figured he'd play five years and move on. Never once during his career did Connop contemplate winding up in the Hall of Fame.

"I'm proud of a lot of things and one of them was making that team that had just won four Grey Cups in a row," offered Connop, who began selling commercial real estate 16 years ago.

GREAT TO PLAY IN CFL

"It hasn't quite sunk into me that this is what has happened. I just sort of grew up thinking, 'Wow! Wouldn't it be great to play in the CFL?'

"Then it kind of materialized and turned into something other than just a cup of coffee. It turned into a legitimate career and now it's gone to another level."

Pless, the CFL's all-time leading tackler, was equally elated with his selection for induction.

An 11-time CFL all-star, Pless was added to Commonwealth Stadium's Wall of Fame last October in recognition of his stellar nine-year career with the Esks.

"I guess they had to get something to rhyme with Wall," laughed Pless, who was Hamilton for yesterday's Hall of Fame announcements.

"It is a great feeling. Just the little bit I've experienced so far, it's been awesome. It's a great way to close the book as far as my football career and all the football things I have done."

Linebacker Ray Nettles, who toiled with the B.C. Lions from 1972 to '76, and tackle Ed George, a member of the Montreal Alouettes from '70-74, are the other player inductees this year.

Reg Currie, the driving force behind junior football's Regina Rams in the team's early years, will be inducted in the builder category.

The five inductees will officially enter the Hall during the induction weekend scheduled for this fall.


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