In his first year of eligibility, former Montreal Alouettes linebacker Chip Cox will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Tuesday.
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The American is part of the 2022 vintage, which will be introduced on September 16 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.
“It confirms all the efforts I have made,” Cox underlined during an interview with the media on Monday. To be selected in my first year of eligibility is the icing on the cake.”
The 38-year-old recalled that there was no indication that he would ever have a career that would allow him to be part of a circuit’s immortals.
“I’m a guy who didn’t get a runway job until I was in high school and I’ve played soccer all my life. I never got picked on all-star teams in college, but I never quit. I knew the day that I would get my chance that I would not be taken off the field.
That’s exactly what happened to the “If” when he was hired by CEO Jim Popp in 2006. Cox spent his entire career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Montreal. He terrorized opponents’ attacks through 2018, with 926 defensive tackles, 23 interceptions and 32 quarterback sacks. He also caused 28 fumbles and scored six touchdowns.
Cox won two Gray Cups (2009-10), a three-time CFL All-Star and won the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award in 2013.
The perfect SAM
Four years after his retirement, CFL coaches are still using Cox’s stripes to show what a strong linebacker (SAM) must do to excel.
The Columbus native did not start his career in that position, however, as he played his first seasons as a defensive defender. It was Popp’s plan to use Cox as SAM, but the athlete refused.
“I came from the United States and I didn’t understand Canadian football very well yet,” he explained.
However, in 2009, the former GM of the Alouettes returned to the charge.
“Jim told me that he brought me to Montreal to play in this position and that he really needed me back then. When you hear that, you have to do it for the team,” recalls Cox.
“He was right, it was the perfect position for me. It’s funny because in my freshman year in high school, I told my coach that I wanted to cover the best receivers, but I also like to blitz.
“It wasn’t possible in the football played in the United States, but it was in the CFL,” concluded the man whose story is the perfect example of what makes the Canadian circuit unique.
Chip Cox: A Dominant Player
It was unanimous among the Montreal Alouettes players interviewed on Tuesday: Chip Cox was an exciting and intimidating player.
Offensive lineman Kristian Matte rubbed shoulders with the one who will soon be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame from 2010 to 2018 with the “If”. Let’s just say the 36-year-old veteran would rather have him on his team than the other way around, even if it wasn’t an easy task to run into him in practice.
“He was a very talented and very athletic man. It was hard to find him when he raced to the line because he was so fast. It was a tough training session against him. Chip was a great team player and leader. Not for nothing he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Matte also recalled a very specific memory of Cox.
“I remember in my early years the opponent’s attack was on the goal line. He forced a fumble, recovered the ball and scored a touchdown.
This feat took place in July 2011 against the Toronto Argonauts. Cox scored a major for 108 yards, which is still a record in the Canadian Football League (CFL).
A formidable opponent
For his part, quarterback Trevor Harris has never had a chance to play with his Ohio countryman. However, he was one of many casualties as they played on the Canadian circuit for seven seasons at a time.
“I remember one player who scared everyone, he was a tackle machine,” said the Alouettes starter.
“He was able to come back from very far away to defend against passes, even when I was convinced that my receivers were completely clear.”
At 26, linebacker Brian Harelimana has never had a chance to play with or against Cox. The Montrealer remembers very well the athlete who delighted the audience with his performances.
“I remember a man who was all over the field and one of the best defensive players in the history of the Alouettes. […] Guys who played with him still talk about it, including Chris Ackie. He had an impact on their career,” said the sophomore.
The Canadian Football Hall of Fame’s 2022 vintage
-Dave Ritchie (builder)
-Roy Shivers (builder)
-Glen Suitor (Member of Media)
-Ed Willes (Member of Media)