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Willie Pless
No. 32, 39     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1964-02-21) February 21, 1964 (age 55)
Place of birth: Anniston, Alabama
Career information
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
Roster status: Retired
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Willie Pless (born February 21, 1964) is a retired Canadian football linebacker in the Canadian Football League. He played for the Toronto Argonauts, BC Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, and Saskatchewan Roughriders, winning the 1993 Grey Cup with the Eskimos. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

College careerEdit

Pless played his college football at the University of Kansas. As a Jayhawk starter for only three years (1983 to 1985) he amassed an amazing 633 tackles. This is not recognized as a record, as the NCAA officially counted tackles starting in 2000, but the present leader (Rod Davis) has only 526.[1] Being 5 feet 10 inches tall, 210 pounds, Pless was not drafted by the NFL. He would later (in 1990) try out for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs, but otherwise, his entire 14 year, 250 game, career was played in Canada. Willie was an All Big Eight Academic first team and was elected as the all time best linebacker in the history of Big Eight after it became the Big Twelve.[2]

Professional careerEdit

Willie Pless may be the best defensive player ever to play in the CFL.[3] He played for 4 teams: Toronto Argonauts for 4 years (1986 to 1989), B.C. Lions for 1990, Edmonton Eskimos for (1991 to 1998) and finally the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1999).[4] He holds the league record for most tackles (1,241).[5] He also had 84 quarterback sacks, 39 interceptions, 39 fumble recoveries,[3] played in 18 playoff games and three Grey Cups, winning one championship (the 81st Grey Cup game).[4] He won the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award five times and was an all star 11 times.[4]

Honours and awardsEdit

  • CFL outstanding defensive player: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • West Division outstanding defensive player: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • East Division outstanding rookie: 1986
  • CFL All-Star: 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998.
  • West Division All-Star: 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
  • North Division All-Star: 1995
  • B.C. Lions outstanding player: 1990
  • Edmonton Eskimos outstanding player: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • Toronto Argonauts outstanding defensive player: 1986, 1988
  • B.C. Lions outstanding defensive player: 1990
  • Edmonton Eskimos outstanding defensive player: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders outstanding defensive player: 1999
  • Toronto Argonauts outstanding rookie: 1986
  • Grey Cup participation: 1987, 1993, 1996
  • Grey Cup victories: 1993

[4]

He is a member of the University of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame[6] and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.[4] In November, 2006, Willie Pless was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (#16) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network The Sports Network/TSN.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

Pless has settled in Edmonton and runs a personal trainer business.[8]

NotesEdit

  1. "Catching Up with: Willie Pless". kuathletics.com. October 7, 2010. http://www.kuathletics.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/100710aaa.html. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  2. Unforgettable Hawks.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 CFLpedia Entry.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Pless's Canadian Football Hall of Fame Entry.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
  5. CFL Regular Season All-Time Records.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
  6. Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
  7. TSN Top 50 CFL Players.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
  8. Whatever happened to Willie Pless.Retrieved on December 29, 2010.
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