Gord Rowland is one of the all-time great Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Rowland was born and raised in Montreal and besides playing football, was an excellent soccer player. In 1952, Rowland was a member of the Stelco team that won the Canbadian Senior Mens Soccer Championship n his future home of Winnipeg. In 1953, Rowland tried out for the Bombers and didn't make the team, but returned in 1954 and made the team and would remain a Bomber for 11 seasons until 1964.
Rowland was best known as a linebacker*, but he appears in virtually every statistical catagory that was tracked during his career. Rowland saw action at running back, returned kickoffs and punts, performed kickoffs and even did some placekicking. About the only thing Rowland didn't do was throw a pass.
The Bombers enjoyed tremendous success during Rowland's career. His first three seasons (1954-56) were dominated by the Eskimos and their three Grey Cups, but then the Bombers replaced Edmonton as the dominant team in the West. In the next 8 years, Rowland and the Bombers playd in 5 Grey Cups, all against Hamilton as it became an almost a yearly rivalry. The Bombers won four of those matches in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962.
In terms of individual accomplishments, Rowland won 5 West All-Stars at linebacker (1957, 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1962) and one CFL All-Star (1962) which was the first year that CFL All-Stars were selected. Rowland was also a runner-up as the OUtstanding Canadian in 1958. Rowland recorded an impressive 31 career interceptions and 12 career fumble returns.
On Sept 3, 1960, Gordie Rowland punted (~ 60 yards) for a single on the final play of the game which completed the Bombers final minute comeback to keep their win streak alive. The punt itself doesn’t show up in the CFL stats because it was an open field kick. In this era, only kicks from scrimmage were recorded as punts. It would take until the late 1960’s for open field kicks to be included in the punting stats
On Oct 1, 1960, Rowland set a CFL record with a 90 yard kickoff. In this era, a kickoff that traveled through the end zone was penalized with a re-kick (no yardage penalty). If three successive kickoffs went through the end zone, the opposing team was awarded the ball at the point of the kickoff. The only reason that Rowland was credited with a 90 yard kickoff was that the ball touched a Calgary player before it bounced over the touchline. This kickoff rule was changed in 1970.
Gordie Rowland’s touchdowns:
Rowland also had 2 kickoff singles:
Following the end of his playing career, Rowland coached footbal, first as an assistant coach with the University of Manitoba Bisons and then minor football. Rowland was elected to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
* The terminology used for positions when Rowland played is a bit different than today and was undergoing a transition at the time Most teams bakc then playd a 5-4-3 defence with only 3 defensive backs. The outside linebackers were called corner linebackers. As the imortance of the passing game increased, the corner linebackers dropped the "line" and became simply the cornerbacks as teams moved to a modern 4-3-5 defence. From this, you could argue Rowland was really a defensive back and not a linebacker, and indeed in the Youtube clip below, Rowland himslef refers to himself as a defensive back.The All-Stars, however that Rowland won are listed as being for linebacker.