This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Stampeders’ 1992 Grey Cup championship squad.
In the coming months, we’ll be taking a look back at the squad that snapped the Stamps’ 21-year title drought and the cast of characters responsible for the conquest.
This time, we look back with former Stampeders fullback and current CFL on TSN analyst Duane Forde.
Duane Forde Number: 31 (wore 34 in his second stint with Stamps) Position: Fullback/special teams University: Western Ontario In 1992: 23 years old, 2nd season with Stamps Regular season: nine catches, 86 yards, 28 rushing yards, 2 special-teams tackles
Duane Forde won a pair of Grey Cup rings as a member of the Calgary Stampeders and he admits the second one — earned in 1998 during his second stint with the Red and White — stands out more than the 1992 championship.
Forde was a kid in 1992 — 23 years old and just two years removed from the campus of the University of Western Ontario — and he saw limited action on a team loaded with veterans.
Andy McVey was the starting fullback at that time but with Doug Flutie in his first season as Stamps QB, Calgary wasn’t running the ball much anyway.
“For me, ’92 was when I was still finding my way and finding my place as a CFL player,” recalls Forde. “I would see a little time on offence and play a lot of special teams. Calgary of that era, with Huff (John Hufnagel) as the offensive coordinator, that was really the beginning of five- and six-receiver offences and getting the running backs out of the game.
“When you look at the receivers we had — Allen Pitts, Dave Sapunjis, right on down the list — we had a pretty deep and solid group at that time. And of course, we had Doug Flutie pulling the trigger.”
One aspect of the 1992 season that does hold special meaning for Forde is that the Stamps’ Grey Cup win over Winnipeg took place in Toronto.
“For me personally,” he says, “it was a neat opportunity to play a Grey Cup game at home in front of family in Toronto, too.”
And while Forde didn’t play as big of a role on that 1992 squad as he would on the 1998 Stamps, that first championship was special because of how happy the fullback was for his colleagues.
“For me, the big thing was knowing what it meant for some of the veteran guys and some of the guys who had been around for a long time — people like (equipment manager) George Hopkins and (trainer) Pat Clayton.
“I actually think back to the ’91 season . That was my first year in the league and we had Lloyd Fairbanks, who was one of our starting offensive tackles at the time, and Lloyd was in his 17th season in the league. I did the math on it and figured out that in Lloyd’s rookie year in the CFL, I was in kindergarten. The thing that really struck me that year was that when me made it to the Grey Cup, was that for a guy like Lloyd who had been in the league all those years in an eight- or nine-team league, he had never been to the Grey Cup. That was what stuck with me from that first year.”
Fairbanks was no longer with the Stamps in 1992 but there were other vets who had suffered through some lean years in the 1980s.
“Just as an example, there was Stu Laird, who was a veteran guy in Calgary who had been around for a long time,” notes Forde, “and people like Geo and Patty who hadn’t had that experience. I thought more about those guys than what the Grey Cup meant for me personally.”