“It certainly wasn’t something I was banking on. I wasn’t holding my breath on it.
“I’m just tickled pink by it. I just get goose bumps. I means a great deal to me. It’s like somebody pinch me being up there in that company.
“I’m from humble beginnings in Saskatchewan where football is everything. I knew who all those guys up there were as a kid,” he said of the Eskimo Wall of Famers.
“I know what special company I’m in. The wow factor with me is enormous. Edmonton is a very special place to play football and this is a very special day for me. I was numb for about a half hour after Rick LeLacheur told me.”
This was a guy who played middle linebacker, supposedly an import position, despite being legally blind in one eye.
“Blind in one eye and deaf in the other,” he laughs.
“I just wanted to be on the field playing. I don’t know if you could call me a pioneer,” added the product of Saskatoon, who replaced Danny Bass after Bass replaced Danny Kepley in the middle.
“I just trusted the coach not to look at me as a Canadian but as a football player like everybody else. Being Canadian is something I took a lot of pride in my whole career,” said Wruck.
“I wasn’t after stardom. I didn’t want to be given anything. But I appreciated the opportunity to compete for the position. When the Eskimos gave me the opportunity to compete for it in good faith, I was pretty happy about that. Hopefully, anything I accomplished spoke highly of Canadian talent.
“Hopefully it proved Canadians are viable and legitimate to play more than certain positions. Hopefully it did something to break down the walls that said there are certain positions that only a Canadian could only play.”
Kicker Fleming left a legacy of records which left no doubt that in short order after retiring, he’d be going up on the Eskimos Wall and quite likely the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as well.
Wruck, who played a dozen years in a career which came to a conclusion in 1996, had reached the point he didn’t think this was going to happen.
“I really didn’t,” he said. “I joked with Blake Dermott that the only way we were going to get our names up there if we snuck in Commonwealth Stadium some night with a can of spray paint.”
There may be some young fans wondering who the, uh, heck was Larry Wruck?
“Larry’s locker was next to mine for my first five years of my career until he retired,” said Fleming.
“He was a mentor to me and taught me how to be professional and to conduct myself in a manner that is expected as a member of the Edmonton Eskimos. I owe a lot to him and this day is even more special to me, that Larry is being recognized for his stellar career on the same field. Larry was not a splashy player but was the type of player every team looks for and needs; hard working, consistent and an undisputed leader.
“I’ve never really considered the nationality of those I’ve played with or those players on the wall. They are all true Eskimos and have contributed greatly to the organization. However, I do recognize the role Canadians in the CFL play as role models for youth playing football across Canada. Honours such as this can play a part in strengthening the perception and belief among young players in this country, that they can achieve great things in the game of football at the highest level in Canada.
“I believe that being on the wall is more than accomplishments on the field. It also reflects how you conduct yourself and how you represent the community.
“I hope that when the next generation of players look up in the stadium and aspire to be on the wall, they will see that being an Eskimo is about more than putting on a jersey on game day.”
47 LARRY WRUCK, 1985-96
• Played in four Grey Cup games and won two.
• Five-time nominee and two-time finalist for CFL Award as most outstanding defensive player.
• Played 12 seasons and ended up sixth on the Eskimos all-time list for games played at 213.
• Ended up second on the Eskimos all-time tackles list (646) — first all-time in playoff tackles (57) and first for most defensive tackles for a loss (10 in 1992).
11 SEAN FLEMING, 1992-2007
• Three-time Grey Cup champion who played in the big game five times.
• Selected Grey Cup top Canadian in 1993.
• Played 16 seasons in Edmonton, ending up second on the Eskimos all-time list for games played with268.
• Ended up with Grey Cup records for most points in a game (21), most field goals in a game (6) and average points scored per game (10.6).
• Owns most of the Eskimos kicking records including most career points (2,569), most converts career (713) and most field goals career (553).