Sam "The Rifle" Etcheverry played his entire nine year CFL career with Montreal from 1952 to 1960. Etcheverry put up prettty much modern passing numbers in an era dominated by the run. Etcheverry threw for over 3000 yards in every season (no stats were kept in 1952 and 1953) and had a career high 4723 yards in 1956.
Etcheverry was a six time East All-Star, winning recognition in 1953-1957 inclusively and 1960 (there were no CFL All-Stars until 1962). Etcheverry was nominated five times by the Alouettes for the Outstanding Player in the CFL (1954, 1955, 1958, 1959 and 1960).
Etcheverry and the Als went to the Grey Cup three times in his stint in Montreal, unfortunately losing all three contests (1954-56) to Jackie Parker and the Edmonton Eskimos. The 1954 loss was one of the most memorable in Grey Cup in history as it featured the famous Chuck Hunsinger fumble that was run back by Parker for a touchdown and converted by Bob Dean for the victory.
In 1960, Montreal attempted to trade Etcheverry to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for Bernie Faloney, and the courts ruled it was a breach of Etcheverry's contract and made him a free agent. The Rifle headed South to the NFL and completed his career south of the border, playing two years with the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL in 1961 and 1962.
Etcheverry would return , however, to the CFL and the Montreal Alouettes. After Etcheverry's departure, the Als fell on hard times through the 1960s,and so it was only fitting that Etcheverry's return helped turn the franchise around again. There had been a short one year return in 1965 as an assistant coach, but in 1970, Sam Berger bought the Montreal Alouettes and made Etcheverry the head coach and former teammate John (Red) O'Quinn the General Manager. With Sonny Wade as the quarterback, the Als and Etcheverry won the Grey Cup in 1970 that had eluded him as a player. Etcheverry stayed on as the head coach for three seasons (1970-72), but left aftger a falling out with O'Quinn.
Etcheverry returned one more time to the Alouettes in 1982 as the team's GM and President. The Alouettes had once more fallen on hard times after a disasterous 1981 season under flamboyent owner Nelson Skalbania. The team was badly in debt and Skalbania turned the t eam back tgo the league in March of 1982. One day later with Charles Bonfman as the new owner, Etcheverry was named President and GM. This return was not so cuccessful as the newly renamed team, now the Concordes, struggled on the field and Etcheverry was fired in July of 1983 by Edmon Ricard, Chairman of the Board. To this day, however, Etchebverry remains one of the all-time stars and fan favourites in Alouette history.
On August 29, 2009, Sam Etcheverry lost his battle with cancer and passed away.
NFL-CFL Split As Rifle Given Okay - February 4, 1961 (scroll down)