Romano to be inducted

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

For more than two months, Rocco Romano had to bite his tongue when he ran into old Calgary Stampeders teammates.

Although the former Stamps lineman knew since November he would be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, he wasn't allowed to tell anyone about it until yesterday.

So he was relieved when it was announced he was going in with Darren Flutie, Greg Battle, Dave (Tuffy) Knight and Pierre Vercheval.

"In a way, I wanted to scream and shout and tell everybody but I made a promise not to say anything," said the 44-year-old.

"Now that it's public, I'm ecstatic. My first words at the press conference were 'Wow, I can finally talk about this.' "

Romano took the same serious attitude about his silence that he did in 14 CFL seasons as an offensive lineman, 10 of which were in Calgary.

Even the man who stood next to him all those years, centre Jamie Crysdale, didn't know his old friend was getting the induction.

But there is no doubt in Crysdale's mind this is deserved.

"No matter who he was going against, he always managed to get his job done," said Crysdale, who played with Romano from 1993-2000.

"It didn't matter if it was the best defensive tackle in the league, we were always fine because Rocco was there.

"He was the type to take guys and make them do what he did. He wasn't overly vocal but you could always say he was one of the best leaders on our team."

Romano was the Stampeders' first pick (fifth overall) in the 1987 Canadian college draft out of Concordia.

He played that season in Calgary before being traded to Saskatchewan the following year. The 6-ft. 4-in. guard then spent the next few years as a journeyman, playing with Toronto, Ottawa and B.C. before the Lions traded him back to the Stampeders in a trade that sent Danny Barrett the other way.

Throughout the 1990s, the Stampeders were perennial contenders and Romano was a stalwart along the line with the likes of Crysdale, Jay McNeil and Fred Childress.

"We were the unsung heroes and I loved being part of that," said Romano, who was an all-star at guard four times and once at tackle when he made that switch late in his career.

Romano's career ended in 2000 with a shoulder injury but the highlight was winning the Grey Cup in 1998. On the field immediately after the game in Winnipeg, Romano jumped on the touchdown horse for a celebratory ride.

"I asked to get on the horse and the rider asked if I was kidding. At the time, with everything going on, it seemed like forever but it probably wasn't that long."


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