June 6, 2024

Generations of EE quarterbacks ready to meet at the Kickoff to 75 Dinner

EDMONTON – The history of the Green and Gold runs deep, and it probably runs deepest at the quarterback position.

There is not a team in the Canadian Football League, or really even in professional football that can boast the collection of talent that has walked the hallways of both Commonwealth and Clarke Stadium.

From the early years of the historic Jackie Parker to the Double E’s last Grey Cup champion and Most Outstanding Player Michael Reilly, there has seldom been a lean year behind the centre in Edmonton.

Thursday night’s Kickoff to 75 Dinner will be a gathering of the greats. In a single room will be Tom Wilkinson, Warren Moon, Matt Dunigan, Tracy Ham, Damon Allen, Ricky Ray, and Michael Reilly. Hundreds of thousands of passing yards, thousands of touchdowns, more Grey cup rings then you can fit on two hands, and all the best memories of being an Edmonton football fan all wrapped up in a single event.

As much as the attendees are excited for what promises to be a once in a lifetime event, the Elks current quarterbacks are just as excited.

“I’m very excited. I cannot wait,” McLeod Bethel-Thompson said. “Especially for the ones I haven’t met.”

Bethel-Thompson has been around the league long enough to have rubbed shoulders or even competed against a few of the greats that will be in the room. He was teammates with Ricky Ray, played against Michael Reilly, and knows Matt Dunigan and Damon Allen due to his time with the Argonauts.

“I played with Tracy Ham’s son (Caleb), but never met Tracy,” Bethel-Thompson said. “I’m very much looking forward to meeting Warren Moon. I’ve never met Tom Wilkinson as well, so I’m just really excited to just get there.”

Warren Moon and Tom Wilkinson reunite back in 2007

For Tre Ford, who is a fair bit younger than the legends he’ll be in the room with, there are still some names that definitely peaked his interest. The Canadian pivot said it has been cool to see guys like Ray and Reilly during film breakdown, and the allure of meeting a CFL and NFL hall of famer in Warren Moon is always present.

However, there was one player Ford singled out as a person of interest when asked about the gathering and it was none other than Tracy Ham. If you know Tre Ford’s game, you’ll understand why.

Ham was a ground breaker at the QB position. The 5-foot-11 dual threat was the first ever QB in pro football to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a single season, a feat he accomplished in back-to-back seasons in 1989 and 1990. He was no slouch in the passing either, with four-consecutive 30-touchdown seasons. The 1989 CFL’s Most Outstanding player is exactly the type of player Ford hopes to be – as dangerous a passer as he is a rusher.

“Just knowing their careers and the success they’ve had in the league, it’s going to be good to go there, sit down, have conversations with them, pick their brains, and see if they have any advice for a younger quarterback,” Ford said. “I’m super excited for this.”

Tracy Ham shows off his running ability as a member of the Edmonton Eskimos

Even for a quarterback like Bethel-Thompson, the opportunity to meet legends of his position with nearly as many years of pro experience as there has been season of Double E Football is a tantalizing one.

“Just give me a little nugget or something that they have, because every quarterback has been through something, and I’m just very excited to pick their brains,” Bethel-Thompson said. “There is so much experience, there are so many touchdowns in that room.”

“I can’t wait to get there and hopefully I get a little time with each of them,” he added. “Just to pick their brain for about 30 seconds would be nice, five minutes would better, an hour would be even better, but I don’t think they have enough time.”

The Double E Legends will be at the Elks Home Opener presented by Purolator. Get your tickets — starting as low as $22 — to honour the greats and take part in the pregame autograph session! More Details on the day’s events can be found HERE.