Former Eskimo dead at 52

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

Underrated. Humble. Caring.

Those words are being used to describe former Edmonton Eskimo York Hentschel, who died yesterday in a local hospital.

A three-time Grey Cup champion during his five-year run (1976-80) with the Green and Gold, the central Alberta native was part of the famous "Alberta Crude" defensive line.

But to this day, his teammates feel he was underrated.

"When you play alongside Dave Fennell, Ron Estay and David Boone, you are going to have to be superman or God to stand out," said John Farlinger.

"York did stand out (to his teammates on the field), but his personality was such that it would not allow him to blow his own horn.

"He was a humble and quiet guy.

"It was one of the best defensive units in CFL history - and not many people would remember the name York Hentschel."

Born and raised in Bentley, Hentschel took an improbable route to the CFL.

"It was unbelievable," recalled Tom Wilkinson.

"He was actually a lifeguard in Florida when he got noticed by (former Eskimo coach) Ray Jauch.

"That is how he came to training camp."

And when camp ended in the spring of 1976, Hentschel became just one of four rookies to crack the starting lineup of the defending Grey Cup champions.

Not bad for a defensive tackle with eight-man football experience in Bentley and two seasons with the Red Deer Packers on his resume.

"I know Hector Pothier, who practised against him (with the Eskimos), said he might have been the strongest guy he had ever played against," continued Wilkinson.

"It was just natural strength."

But Hentschel wasn't a natural talker.

"In all the time he was here, I don't know if he said 20 words," said Wilkinson.

"He let his play do all the talking."

However, Hentschel spoke volumes with his caring attitude.

"He might have been making $20,000 or $25,000 (in his early CFL days)," Wilkinson commented.

"But I think he sent or offered to send all of his brothers or sisters to college."

Family and friends are now arranging a funeral after Hentschel lost his three-month battle in the Misericordia Hospital and died of organ failure early yesterday morning. He was 52.


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