Jackson can relate to Favre

EARL MCRAE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

The greatest quarterback in CFL history -- import or homebrew -- had just come off the golf course when I reached him at his home in Burlington to ask his views on the maybe-I-will, maybe-I-won't antics of the quarterback who is arguably the greatest in NFL history.

"So, Russ, what's your handicap?" I asked Russell Stanley Jackson, Canadian born and bred. He laughed. "Well, at this stage in my life, it's about 13." Thirteen? Golf-playing fanatics a lot younger than the 74-year old Jackson would kill to have a handicap of 13.

"I'm phoning, Russ, to ask you about the Brett Favre soap opera again."

Russ Jackson. Ottawa Rough Riders. Retired at 34 after leading his team to victory in the 1969 Grey Cup and today -- 41 years later -- he still holds four CFL records at the quarterback position and is in the top five in several others.

His unbroken records: Highest completion percentage in a playoff game -- 85.7; 18-of-21 passes.

Most Grey Cup wins as a starting quarterback: Three.

Most TD passes in a Grey Cup game: Four.

All-time leading Canadian-born quarterback: 24,592 yards, 185 TD passes, 1356 completions out of 2530.

In his 12 seasons from when he began in 1958, Jackson's Riders appeared in four Grey Cups, wining three of them.

How great was No. 12? Not only a splendid hard passer, but a pounding runner: A career 5,045 yards on 738 rushes -- 54 touchdowns. Three times the CFL's Most Outstanding Player. Four times Most Outstanding Canadian. Three times CFL all-star. Six times Eastern Conference all-star. Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Recipient of the Order of Canada.

Brilliant academically, he turned down a Rhodes Scholarship so he could pursue his dream of football.

But, during his Ottawa playing years, he also taught high school, rising to principal, and continued in that position after football, both in Ottawa, later Toronto.

"Russ -- Brett Favre. His holdouts. This year, last year. Dangling his teams. He's been called selfish, an egomaniac, a diva, unprofessional. Your opinion."

"I have no problem. As long as his teammates accept it, which it seems they have. And that he can come back and be successful. I do think he's stretching the elastic a bit. He knows only one way of playing which is tough, physical.

"I'm surprised he made it through last season without a major injury -- except for the ankle in the conference final. I'll be surprised if he has another season as good as last year. I can't see him continuing at that level."

"If he starts off under-performing, can you see the Vikings replacing him as starting quarterback?"

"No. With him coming back there would be an understanding that he's playing the games. As long as he's healthy. I was surprised when he said his ankle wasn't 100% because most times you go the other way, you try to cover up an injury. Say you're okay."

"What was your worst injury?"

"A broken rib in 1960. I fell on the ball."

"Did you miss many games as a result?"

"One. The only game I missed in my career."

"Like Favre, did you ever hold out from training camp?"

"Once. In 1965. I wanted more money. I missed almost all of camp until Frank (coach Clair) told the GM 'Not having Jackson is like me being without a right hand.' I got the money."

"Does Favre purposely missing training camp not potentially hurt him and his team?"

"No. His experience, he's seen it all. There's nothing thrown at him that's going to fool him. Training camp is such a long, drawn-out affair. All you want is to get on with the season. And back then, we had longer camps than now, including four exhibition games."

"How emotionally and mentally hard will it be for Favre to finally retire; what was it like for you?"

"I knew I'd definitely be leaving for the whole year before I did. I had time to prepare. Also, I'd been teaching for years, I had that to fall back on. I was 34 and decided it was time to focus on my education career."

"Favre doesn't have something like that that he can fall back on."

"What you miss is not the game, but the camaraderie with the players, the fun. The family of players. Favre will have no problems financially, but you do have to have something meaningful to fall back on. So yes. I think there'll be a big letdown for him."


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