'You just can't replace him'

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

The passing of Ron Lancaster can't be summarized in one paragraph - but Dan Kepley has put it in perspective.

"We have lost an icon in this country," said Kepley, the Edmonton Eskimos linebacker coach.

"You just can't replace him."

Lancaster died yesterday at the age of 69, just two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The all-time winningest coach in Eskimos history (83 victories between 1991-97) Lancaster leaves behind a legacy as a remarkable quarterback, successful coach and father figure to young players.

His success as a player is well noted.

In his 19-year CFL career starting in 1960, he won two Grey Cups (1960, 1996) and put up stunning numbers: 333 career passing TDs and 50,535 passing yards.

But the mark he left on people throughout the league in behind-the-scenes moments is what is being remembered by players and coaches.

SEAN FLEMING, RETIRED ESKIMOS KICKER

Played under Lancaster from '92 to '97 in Edmonton.

"He was like a father, a grandfather - somebody you could go to and talk to him in confidence and give you good advice," remembered Fleming.

"He was the type of guy that could ride you hard during the football season but after the season, you would love to sit down and have a beer with him.

"One night early in my career I ended up getting in a dust-up with somebody and getting a black eye.

"Ron had the smart idea to put a colour visor (on my helmet) to think nobody would notice from the media. His excuse was I fell down the stairs or stepped on a rake."

JASON GOSS, ESKIMOS DEFENSIVE BACK

Played for Lancaster in Hamilton in 2006.

"When I was going through my family situation and had to leave the team, he was one of the guys I went to and talked to," said Goss, who left the Ticats with nine games left in 2006 and didn't return.

"He knew I had to take care of family first. He was a big inspiration. He was OK with me doing that.

"He would have been more angry if I would have stayed and not taken care of my family.

"His door was always open to me - regardless if it was football."

AGUSTIN BARRENECHEA, EDMONTON LINEBACKER

Played for Lancaster in Hamilton in 2006.

"My grandfather passed away and it was in the middle of the season. And he came up to me and told me if I needed to go back to Argentina, do what you need to do," recalled Barrenechea.

"He was able to understand and relate to the mental struggles players go through. I really can't say enough about him."

DANNY MACIOCIA, ESKIMOS HEAD COACH

"I remember my first year (as head coach) in 2005 at the league meetings at the CFL Congress," said Maciocia on the time spent in Winnipeg.

"I remember him saying: 'Sit next to me and I will guide you through this the next couple of days.'

"He was outstanding. It was almost like I had a father figure, really. I remember thanking him for it."


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