A fierce competitor when he was busy burying members of the opposing offences for 16 seasons in the Canadian Football League, Alondra Johnson couldn't help but remember yesterday the ones that got away.
"I know for a fact we should have won more," said the former middle linebacker, who won three Grey Cups with the Calgary Stampeders. "With the talent we had, teams were up for playing us. They knew they had to play their best against us, and that's what we usually got."
It was that kind of hunger that helped Johnson earn the ultimate sports honour yesterday, as he and four others were announced as the 2009 inductees for the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. The group will officially be inducted the weekend of Sept. 24-26 in Winnipeg.
"This is the closer on an outstanding career for me, the icing on the cake," Johnson, who is third in CFL history with 1,085 tackles, said. "It does not get any higher than this."
Joining Johnson in the class of '09 are:
- Jim Mills, player
The offensive tackle twice was named the CFL's most outstanding lineman (1990-91) when he was a member of the B.C. Lions and was a league all-star three times. "I haven't played in 14 years so I was shocked when I got the call," Mills said.
- Rudy Phillips, player
Phillips spent just seven seasons in the CFL, but during his tenure with Ottawa, was named the league's outstanding lineman in 1982 and 1983. Phillips acknowledged he was taken aback when he got the call informing him he would be inducted. "I was part of this for just seven years, but seven years that I thought we tried to make ourselves better each game," Phillips said. "To reach a plateau like this is amazing."
- Glen Weir, player
Known for his durability, Weir played 203 games from 1972-84 with Montreal, spending his entire career with the club. A three-time CFL all-star, Weir won a pair of Grey Cups.
- Tony Anselmo, builder
Involved with the Calgary Stampeders since 1967, Anselmo helped spearhead fundraisers that brought more than $32 million worth of improvements to McMahon Stadium during his time with the team. Anselmo, 91, sat on the Stamps' advisory board from 1974 to 1982. "It's about time," Anselmo said during a conference call, eliciting laughter. "I'm 91 years old and I don't have many years left."