Following up an icon on a sports team is no easy task. In the case of Edmonton starting pivot Trevor Harris, he is following up two different signal-callers that have been among the most accomplished in the history of the CFL. But more than just following up on Ricky Ray and Mike Reilly, Harris has a long legacy of excellence to live up to for Edmonton quarterbacks.
Harris’ first year in Edmonton is best described as “what might have been”. He had some great moments, like in the East Semi-final when he threw for 421 yards with just three incompletions on 39 attempts. But after a hot start to the season, injuries limited him to a total of just 16 touchdowns.
He was in the conversation for M.O.P. after some great performances early on, albeit against some of the worst teams in the league. But if he hadn’t gotten hurt against Calgary, what could have been for the 2019 Esks? But at 33 years old, there is still time for Harris to have some very good years and potentially be West All-Star quality.
Looking Back pre-Trevor Harris
The two quarterbacks before Harris were incredibly successful in the green and gold.
Mike Reilly took over in 2013 after coming over from the B.C. Lions, and was one of the most outstanding players in the decade. He won the league M.O.P. in 2017, among many other accolades in green and gold before returning to the west coast prior to the 2019 season. During his time in Edmonton, Reilly led the Esks to their first Grey Cup win in ten years in 2015 and had back-to-back 30 touchdown seasons in 2017 and 2018. While his tenure only lasted six seasons, Reilly will not be soon forgotten in Edmonton.
Ricky Ray led the Eskimos from 2002–2011, save the 2004 season he spent with the New York Jets. He started his career off with a bang, throwing for four touchdowns in his first start in 2002 against the Lions. From there Ray would win two Grey Cups with the green and gold (2003 and 2005) and was a CFL All-Star and West All-Star in 2006. Overall, Ray threw for 220 touchdowns in nine seasons in Edmonton, throwing for more than 5,000 yards three times.
The Jackie Parker Days
The legacy of Edmonton quarterbacks didn’t start in this century. In fact, it started before the CFL even officially formed in 1958.
Jackie Parker started the legacy of Edmonton quarterbacks back in the 1950s. For starters, Parker led the Esks to three straight Grey Cup wins from 1954–56 when the Esks were part of the Western Intercontinental Football Union (which later became part of the CFL).
While Parker was drafted by the New York Giants, he joined the Esks because Darrell Royal was the head coach in Edmonton. Royal had been the quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State when Parker was there. Even though Royal only lasted in Edmonton one year before returning to MSU, Parker stayed and became the first great Eskimos pivot.
Royal would eventually become a legendary coach at the University of Texas. Parker was a Western All-Star eight straight years in Edmonton — as a running back in 1954, 57, and 59 and a quarterback in 55, 56, 58, 60, and 61. He was named the CFL M.O.P. three times — 57, 58, and 60. Also a kicker, at the time Parker had scored a CFL record 750 points.
The Warren Moon Era
Of course, the Edmonton signal-caller most well known is CFL and NFL legend Warren Moon. He led the Esks from 1978–1983 and won five Grey Cups in a row during his six seasons in the CFL.
Moon earned honors as the Grey Cup MVP in 1980 and 1982 as well as the league’s M.O.P. in 1983. In six seasons Moon threw 144 touchdown passes to just 77 interceptions, racked up 21,228 yards, and a 93.8 passer rating. In 1982 he became the first quarterback in professional football history to throw for five thousand yards. Moon’s outstanding career landed him in both the Pro Football and Canadian Football Halls of Fame.
Trevor Harris Final Stretch in Edmonton
Trevor Harris still has time to cement a legacy in Edmonton. But he will likely end his career in green and gold, and can make his mark in Esks history. Harris is stepping into the same position as some of the most legendary players in league history.
If he does not deliver a Grey Cup, Harris’ time in Edmonton will be considered a disappointment for a talented player. He delivered a Grey Cup title in Ottawa in 2016, but not delivering one for Edmonton would be a huge missed opportunity and a failure to live up to the prestige of former Edmonton pivots.
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