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Canadian football legend and Vicksburg native George Reed passes away

Mississippi native George Reed quickly became one of the best running backs the Canadian Football League had ever seen when he signed in 1963 (Photo courtesy of the Saskatchewan Roughriders/X)

Canadian football legend and Vicksburg native George Reed has passed away, just one day before his 84th birthday.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders, who Reed spent all 13 years of his career in the Canadian Football League, announced his death on Sunday.

Following his college days at Washington State, Reed signed with the Roughriders in 1963. By the time he retired in 1975, Reed had broken professional records across all leagues in rushing yards (16,116), rushing touchdowns (134), and total touchdowns (137).

Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith and Chicago Bears star Walter Payton – also a Mississippi native – later broke Reed’s rushing yards record during their time in the National Football League. Smith and LaDanian Tomlinson surpassed Reed’s touchdown record during their respective NFL careers.

CFL Hall of Famer Mike Pringle tied Reed’s league record of 137 total touchdowns in 2004 but was not able to surpass Reed’s record for rushing scores, a CFL record that still stands today.

Reed’s résumé also includes two CFL Most Outstanding Player awards (1965, 1976) and a Grey Cup MVP honor in 1966. He was the inaugural winner of the Tom Pate Memorial Trophy, which is given out annually to one CFL player who has shown outstanding sportsmanship while significantly contributing to their team.

In 1972, Reed became the fourth president of the Canadian Football League Players’ Association, a position he held until four years after his retirement. His No. 34 is one of eight jerseys retired by the Roughriders.

Off the field, Reed was an integral part of the Regina community. In 1975, the George Reed Foundation was established, resulting in 48 years of Reed and others giving back to local areas of education, continuous learning, healthy living as well as individuals with disabilities.

The community found Reed to be such a staple to Regina that city leaders in 1973 declared Oct. 9 as George Reed Day.

“George Reed was a giant in life, not only for the Roughriders but in the Saskatchewan community and across the entire CFL. His strength and tenacity on the field was matched only by his compassion and dedication off it,” Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds said. “George made our province and the CFL a better place, and I know I speak on behalf of Rider Nation when I say we will miss him deeply. It was an honor to have him in our life.”

In lieu of flowers, the Roughriders are asking people to donate to the George Reed Foundation. The team is expected to honor Reed’s legacy in the coming days.

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