Ex-CFL star Tony Proudfoot dies

Former CFL player and two-time Grey Cup champion Tony Proudfoot has died in Montreal after a three-year battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Proudfoot died on Thursday at age 61, officials at Montreal's McGill University Health Centre said.

The former Montreal Alouettes all-star defensive back was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative condition also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2007.

In the weeks before his death, Proudfoot, who spoke frankly about the disease's ravages on his body, was on a ventilator 22 hours a day and had lost all motor skills.

Proudfoot was born in Winnipeg and attended the University of New Brunswick, where he played football.

He played nine seasons with the Alouettes and won two Grey Cups, one of which marked him as a creative thinker.

Football fans will remember Proudfoot for an idea he conceived during the 1977 Grey Cup game on an icy field, said Montreal Gazette sports editor Stu Cowan.

"The turning point of the game on the frozen turf, Tony had the brilliant idea that if they put staples in their shoes, the players wouldn't slide so much around on the turf.

"So Tony got the staplegun and started hammering staples into the bottom of all the players' shoes, and while the Eskimos were sliding all around the field, the Alouettes were running straight, and ended up winning the Grey Cup game."

Proudfoot capped his CFL career by playing three seasons for the BC Lions, starting in 1980.

After leaving pro football, Proudfoot carved out a career as a sports broadcaster and physical education teacher at Montreal's Dawson College and Concordia University.

'Inspired so many of us'

Radio announcer Rick Moffat called football games with Proudfoot for more than 10 years, and remembers his former colleague as exceptionally courageous after learning he had ALS.

"He's been always very accepting of fighting the fight that you cannot win, and yet in a way he's won that fight every day, because he's inspired so many of us to find out more about Lou Gehrig's disease, and to fight what he's always described as a hideous disease."

In a statement released Friday, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon remembered Proudfoot as a teacher and mentor who "helped many of us — students, athletes, even coaches — grow up."

"But what we ultimately learned from him is that you can grow physically weak and frail and yet remain incredibly strong and resilient. To know him was to know character. To see him battle was to witness courage."

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

External Links

CFL mourns the loss of Tony Proudfoot