Eskimos’ Calvin McCarty joins prestigious 200-game CFL club


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HAMILTON – There’s a sign above the entrance to the changing rooms at Commonwealth Stadium that says: Once an Eskimo, always an Eskimo.


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And Calvin McCarty seems to take it literally.

The Edmonton Eskimos full-back and longest-serving member of that locker room, where he spent his 13 seasons in the Canadian Football League, will play his 200th game on Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5 p.m., TSN, 630 CHED).

“Two hundred is obviously a lot,” said the oldest statesman on the Eskimos list. “In a young man’s game, it means a lot. It’s not something you think of when you first walk in, but to get there and be up there with some of these names on the list, and see those names up there in the ring of honor and in the corridors of the Eskimos, it means a lot. “

Few players reach the 200-game mark in their careers. And barely a fraction of those who do are running backs.


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But McCarty beat the odds, having arrived at the scene as a stopper from western Washington, via Biose State.

“I don’t think if I had come as a simple defender I would have played 200 games. So just being versatile, being able to do different things within the squad, ”said McCarty, who was drafted in the fourth round (27th overall) in 2007 by the only club he’s ever played with. “It’s longevity, availability and the simple fact of being invited to do different things throughout your career.

“Obviously some of the production is easier to see early in the career with the catch and the run, and a lot of it now hangs up and is in some places on some parts and just affects the part differently. But production is definitely up there, it’s a young man’s game and if you don’t produce, it’s the team’s job to find someone better than you to replace you. Every year. “


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In the first 199, McCarty rushed for 1,607 yards and 16 touchdowns on 334 carries, while adding 2,005 yards and 12 more on 262 catches. And while he still has one of the best sets of hands on the team, he is relied on a lot to block attack and special teams.

“When I started playing a full-back I had no idea of ​​the stages, I was behind in the ball,” said McCarty, who will tie Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams in 200 games played for seventh place on the all-time list of the Eskimos. . “And now all those little things that I was learning that I didn’t think would apply to me then have become huge factors for me at this point in my career.

“So stay open, man. You cannot be a closed book. You have to keep absorbing and learning.


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The 5-foot-10, 215-pound native of Muskogee, OK, who grew up in Surrey, B.C., will turn 35 on November 2.

“I have wanted to play football since I was six years old. Do the math, there are only nine teams here, 32 in the United States, ”said McCarty. “So like, 40 starting opportunities to play back. Think of universities, Div. 1, 2, 3, over 100 kids on teams, NAIA, CIS Canadian ball. How many guys are replaced each season? There are not a lot.
“So as long as the body is there and the spirit is there, I feel like the spirit will always be there. I will always want to play. But I can’t say there was an offseason where I thought about not coming back, especially once we got to that Gray Cup.

The 2015 Championship represents the pinnacle of McCarty’s career, the first and only time he has hoisted the trophy.


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“I have not thought of retiring, but finally get there after nine seasons? Yes you did, but now you have to do it again, ”said McCarty, who will become the 107th player to win the Mr. 200 title, in a year when the 107th Gray Cup is up to catch.

To put it in perspective, around 10,250 players have been recorded as participating in at least one game since 1936, with those who have played 199 more, making up just 1% of the total.

And of this select group, only three players before him were running backs who have spent their entire careers in the backfield: Jeff Johnson (234), Chris Szarks (223) and George Reed (203).

“Really, I remember that first preseason game and second preseason game to make the squad,” said McCarty. “I just remember being there man and having fun.”


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“The Gray Cup, the Moncton (Touchdown Atlantic) game in 2010, even in 2008, having my first start (at the back) at home was another big one.

“And then we had another start a few weeks later in British Columbia, where we won the provincial high school championships. So there were a lot of memorable moments. I think when I get the chance to sit down and put some archival footage together, I can relive some of those memories.

“But for now, it’s the blind horses. You don’t look up, just take the next step and keep going.


On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge


274 Rod Connop – OL

268 Sean Fleming – K

254 Dave Cutler – K

237 Chris Morris – OL

217 Blake Dermott – OL

213 Larry Wruck – LB

200 Henry Williams – KR / PR

199 Calvin McCarty – FB



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