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Eagle Keys
Personal information
Date of birth: (1923-12-04)December 4, 1923
Place of birth: Tompkinsville, Kentucky
Date of death: December 20, 2012(2012-12-20) (aged 89)
Place of death: Burnaby, British Columbia
Career information
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Eagle Keys (December 4, 1923 - December 20, 2012) was a Canadian football player and coach.[1] He was the fifth most successful Head Coach in the Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Early lifeEdit

Keys was an outstanding center and linebacker for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers football team in 1942 and, after a stint in the military (Marine Corps) in World War II, 1946 and '47. He also lettered in baseball (pitcher-outfielder) three straight years (1946–48) after the War. He was an All-KIAC (Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) selection in football as a senior. His 1946 baseball team went a perfect 9–0, outscoring the opponents by an average of five runs a game.

Eagle “Buddy” Keys was inducted into the Western Kentucky University Athletic Hall of Fame (Football-Baseball’42, ’46–48) in 1994.

Professional careerEdit

Following his career on the Hill, Keys moved north to play professional football in the Canadian Football League. He was All-Eastern Conference for three straight years (1949–51) with the Montreal Alouettes and then he earned a berth on the All-Western Conference team throughout the next three seasons while playing for the Edmonton Eskimos. He is best remembered as a player for his final game when he played on a broken leg in the Eskimos' 1954 Grey Cup triumph.

Coaching careerEdit

After his six years as a player, he put in six more years as an assistant coach in the CFL before being named head coach of the Eskimos in 1959. He coached Edmonton from 1959 until 1963, became an assistant coach with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1964 and was promoted to Head Coach in 1965. He was awarded the CFL Coach of the Year award in 1968. In 1970, the Roughriders finished with a mark of 14 wins and 2 losses, a CFL record that stood until 1989 when Edmonton went 16–2. Keys resigned at the end of that season and coached the British Columbia Lions from 1971 until partway through the 1975 season. In 1966 he won his only championship as a head coach, with his Roughriders team winning the 54th Grey Cup. As such, he was voted the All-Time All-Star Coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In total, he spent 16 seasons as a head coach in the Canadian Football League.

CFL Coaching recordEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
WonLostTiesWin %Finish Won Lost Result
EDM1959 1060.6252nd in WIFU 2 2 Lost in WIFU Finals
EDM1960 1060.6252nd in WIFU 4 2 Lost in Grey Cup
EDM1961 1051.6562nd in Western Conference 1 1 Lost in Conference Semi-Finals
EDM1962 691.4065th in Western Conference Missed Playoffs
EDM1963 2140.1255th in Western Conference Missed Playoffs
EDM Total 38402.4880 Western
Championships
750 Grey Cups
SSK1965 871.5313rd in West Conference 0 1 Lost in Conference Semi-Finals
SSK1966 961.5941st in West Conference 2 0 Won Grey Cup
SSK1967 1240.7502nd in West Conference 2 1 Lost in Grey Cup
SSK1968 1231.7811st in West Conference 0 1 Lost in Conference Finals
SSK1969 1330.8131st in West Conference 1 1 Lost in Grey Cup
SSK1970 1420.8751st in West Conference 0 1 Lost in Conference Finals
SSK Total 68253.7244 Western Conference
Championships
551 Grey Cup
BC1971 691.4064th in Western Conference Missed Playoffs
BC1972 5110.3135th in Western Conference Missed Playoffs
BC1973 592.3753rd in Western Conference 0 1 Lost in Division Semi-Finals
BC1974 880.5003rd in Western Conference 0 1 Lost in Division Semi-Finals
BC1975 150.1675th in Western Conference (Fired)
BC Total 25423.3790 Western Conference
Championships
020 Grey Cups
Total 1311078.5494 Western Conference
Championships
12121 Grey Cup

Canadian Football Hall of FameEdit

He retired from coaching after the 1975 season and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1990. His 131 wins as a coach in the CFL still stands as the fifth highest victory total for a head coach in the league. He was elected as a builder on April 28, 1990.

Personal lifeEdit

Keys had retired and was living in Burnaby, British Columbia until his death on December 20, 2012. He and his wife Joyce (née White), also deceased, had five children.

ReferencesEdit

Preceded by
Sam Lyle
Edmonton Eskimos Head Coaches
1959–1963
Succeeded by
Neill Armstrong
Preceded by
Steve Owen
Saskatchewan Roughriders Head Coaches
1965–1970
Succeeded by
Dave Skrien
Preceded by
Jackie Parker
British Columbia Lions Head Coaches
1971–1975
Succeeded by
Cal Murphy
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