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Neil Lumsden: From U of O to the CFL

GEE-GEES MEN’S FOOTBALL has produced many notable players and personnel, but arguably none more so than Gee-Gees hall of famer Neil Lumsden.

Lumsden, who was born in London, Ont. and grew up in Toronto, enrolled at the University of Ottawa in 1972 and began playing for the Gee-Gees’ varsity football team.

As a runningback, Lumsden was a force to be reckoned with. Adorning the garnet and grey, he set several Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) records, including scoring 148 points in a single season and 37 points in a single game during the 1975 playoffs.  In doing so, he led the Gee-Gees to the hoped-for victory in the 1975 Vanier Cup Championship.  Still unbroken is his record-setting 410 career total for points scored. Lumsden went on to win the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game’s most valuable player in the championship.

Lumsden was then selected in the 1976 Canadian Football League (CFL) draft and went on to play 10 seasons in the CFL. Throughout those 10 seasons, he played 141 regular season games and carried the ball 767 times for 3,755 yards, scoring 36 touchdowns. He also had 180 receptions for 1,729 yards, scoring another 15 touchdowns. Several times during his career, he was called to fill in as a punter.

As a proven winner, Lumsden accumulated three consecutive Grey Cup Championship victories with the Edmonton Eskimos in the ‘80s against teams that were, at the time, considered to be the best in the CFL. After a storied membership of the Edmonton Eskimos, Lumsden retired from professional football in 1985.

Lumsden continued his success off the field and became a marketing professional in the Hamilton area. Working with several marketing firms, he spent the next 10 years boosting the visibility of sports in the area.

Lumsden then put his marketing career on hold to accept the position of general manager for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He built a fantastic team in this role, and his efforts were rewarded when the Tiger-Cats won the 1999 Grey Cup Championship.

Following his championship, Lumsden went back to marketing until he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Hamilton Road World Championships in 2003. Following a successful Road World Championship, Lumsden now heads Drive Marketing, a sports marketing firm in Burlington, Ont. He also assists the Guelph University Gryphons’ football program in his capacity as a running back coach.

Lumsden is an example of a professional whose athletic background not only contributed to his success, but also enabled him to find ulterior opportunities to his sports career.  Lumsden would have also been a strong candidate to coach the Gee-Gees this year, but never ended up applying for the job.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Lumsden’s son Jesse played for McMaster and also holds a  noteworthy second place record for 21 rushing touchdowns in one season during 2004, as well as career total of 46 rushing touchdowns.