The Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club, along with its supporters and the whole CFL community, mourns the passing of George Reed, one of the league’s all-time best players, with deep sorrow and broken hearts. One day before turning 84, Reed passed away on Sunday. He lived a long and fulfilling life that saw him achieve great success both on and off the football pitch.
The words “George Reed” connote excellence, tenacity, and fervour for the sport of Canadian football. His legacy goes far beyond the football pitch; it touches the lives of many people and leaves a lasting impression on both the sport and the neighbourhood he loved.
George Reed’s journey to becoming a football legend began with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1963. Over the course of an unparalleled 13-year professional career with the team, he etched his name in the annals of Canadian Football League history. Reed retired as the game’s all-time leading rusher shortly before training camp in 1976, with 16,116 rushing yards and 134 career rushing touchdowns—records that still stand today.
An unstoppable force, full of grit and determination, Reed registered a CFL-record 11 1,000-plus-yards seasons during his career. He was a nine-time CFL all-star, a 10-time West all-star, and played in five consecutive all-star games from 1970 to 1974. Reed’s prowess on the field was undeniable, and it earned him the Schenley Award for Most Outstanding Player in the CFL in 1965. He was the runner-up for the award in 1968 and 1969, showcasing his consistency and excellence.
Of course, Reed was not just a star during the regular season. He was a key part of bringing home the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ first-ever Grey Cup on November 26, 1966, when he rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown in the championship game. His performance that day will forever be etched in the memory of Rider Nation.
With his on-field success came considerable recognition off the field. George Reed was a man who gave back to the community that embraced him. In 1975, he established the George Reed Foundation, which he used as a platform to spend nearly 50 years volunteering and giving back in the areas of education, continuous learning, healthy living, and supporting individuals with disabilities.
Reed’s impact extended far beyond the football field, and his dedication to community service was evident in the awards and honors he received. He was presented with the Tom Pate Memorial Award in 1976, recognizing his outstanding sportsmanship and contributions to his team, community, and the Players’ Association. In 1978, he received the prestigious Order of Canada, a testament to his immense influence.
His contributions to the world of sports and the community were further acknowledged with inductions into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1979, the State of Washington Hall of Fame in 1983, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. In 1987, the Roughriders honored him by adding his name to the Plaza of Honour.
Reed also played a pivotal role in changing the face of the CFL when he helped establish and then served as the president of the CFL Players’ Association for more than a decade. His dedication to the well-being of fellow players and the sport as a whole was unwavering.
To ensure that George Reed’s remarkable legacy lives on, the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation and the George Reed Foundation recently joined together to create the George Reed Legacy Fund. This fund will continue to support the causes that meant the most to Reed: Special Olympics Saskatchewan and Mother Teresa Middle School. In lieu of flowers, those inspired by George Reed and his legacy can make a donation in his memory to the George Reed Legacy Fund through the Riderville website.
Additional plans to honor Reed’s legacy will be announced in the coming days, reflecting the profound impact he had on the Saskatchewan community and the entire CFL.
In a heartfelt statement, George’s daughter, Georgette Reed, expressed the family’s gratitude for the love and support they received from the people of Saskatchewan throughout the years. She highlighted how playing for the Roughriders was one of her dad’s greatest joys, and she believes that his legacy will live on in the hearts of Rider Nation and their own. The Reed family asked for privacy during this difficult time of mourning.
Saskatchewan Roughriders’ President and CEO, Craig Reynolds, praised George Reed as a giant in life and a compassionate individual whose impact extended well beyond the football field. He acknowledged the profound role that Reed played in making the province and the CFL a better place.
Vice President of Football Operations, Jeremy O’Day, added his thoughts, noting that George Reed was not only a legend on the field but also a role model and source of inspiration for many. His presence will be sorely missed, and there will never be another #34.
As Rider Nation and the entire CFL community come together to remember George Reed, they do so not just in mourning but in celebration of a life lived to the fullest—a life that exemplified excellence, dedication, and the true spirit of Canadian football. George Reed’s legacy will continue to shine bright, inspiring generations to come and reminding us all of the power of sportsmanship, community, and giving back.