Ron on the air

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

For a generation of CFL fans, Ron Lancaster made his first impression as a broadcaster for CBC.

For an entire decade - 1980 to 1990 - Lancaster was a colour commentator on CFL telecasts, working alongside Don Wittman and Leo Cahill.

"As a broadcaster, he is in the John Madden class," said former CBC anchor and now TSN host Brian Williams on Lancaster, who died yesterday.

"Don Wittman and Ron Lancaster were as good a team that has broadcasted football in this country. It was like he was talking with you (during the broadcast)."

When Lancaster left the CBC to take the head coaching job with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1991 - which eventually led to a Grey Cup championship in this city in 1993 -that opened the door for Dan Kepley to work at CBC as a commentator.

"He is probably the only guy who can make that orange CBC jacket look good because those were the ugliest damn things I have ever seen," said Kepley on Lancaster.

"Lancaster spoke from a player's perspective (in the TV booth). You got such in-depth insight into the ball game. Not just down and distance. But why did (the receiver) run an out pattern. (And) how did the quarterback get the ball to him.

"All of us were so enlightened.

"You got to see the game from a different perspective."

Lancaster was back in the broadcast booth this season, working as the colour commentator on Hamilton Tiger-Cat home games on CHML radio.

He was in the press box at Ivor Wynne Stadium on July 25 when the Eskimos battled the Ticats.

Earlier that day he had golfed 18 holes with Kepley, Eskimos equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak and former Eskimo Neil Lumsden.

And on Labour Day in Hamilton, Williams saw Lancaster, who had been battling cancer since July.

"He was feeling great and optimistic," said Williams. "(His death) happened very suddenly."


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