Bernie Custis

Last updated

Bernie Custis
No. 99
Born:(1928-09-23)September 23, 1928
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died:February 23, 2017(2017-02-23) (aged 88)
Burlington, Ontario
Career information
CFL status American
Position(s) RB/QB
College Syracuse University
High school John Bartram High School
Career history
As coach
1958Tip Tops (Jr)
1959East York Argonaught (Jr)
1960–63 Oakville Black Knights (Jr)
1964–72 Burlington Braves (Jr)
1973–80 Sheridan College
1981–88 McMaster University
As player
1951–54 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
1955–56 Ottawa Rough Riders
Career stats

Bernard Eugene Custis (September 23, 1928 – February 23, 2017) was an American and Canadian football player who went on to a distinguished coaching career. He is known for having been the first black professional quarterback in the modern era and first in professional Canadian football, starting for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951. [1] [2]

Contents

In 2019, Bernie Custis Secondary School officially opened in Hamilton, Ontario. The school is located adjacent to Tim Hortons Field (and formerly Ivor Wynne Stadium), home site of the Tiger-Cats and Bernie's first professional games. [3]

Early life

Custis was born in Philadelphia in 1928, [4] and graduated from John Bartram High School in Philadelphia in 1947. [5] He excelled in track in high school. [6]

College playing career

Custis was a star quarterback for the Syracuse Orange football in 1948, 1949 and 1950, setting numerous Syracuse records that would last for decades. Custis was recruited by Coach Reaves Baysinger, who was replaced by Ben Schwartzwalder after a 1–8 season. He played the first two seasons of the Coach Schwartzwalder's 25-year tenure at Syracuse. The team went 4–5 in 1949 and 5–5 in 1950. [7] [8] [9] [10]

Custis was awarded the Syracuse Football team's Most Valuable Player trophy for the 1948 season. [11]

Custis roomed with Al Davis, the future coach and owner of the Oakland Raiders, at Syracuse. [6]

Syracuse passing statistics

YearYardsComp.Att.Pct.TDsInt.Pass Eff.
19487215213139.731472.1
19491,1217013452.269123.9
19507757415946.53982.3
Totals261719642446.2123297.3

[12]

Professional playing career

National Football League

He was drafted in the eleventh round of the 1951 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. As the Browns already had eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer Otto Graham as their starting quarterback at the time, Custis stood no chance of becoming a starting quarterback (the NFL, although it had recently begun accepting black players again, had also not had a black quarterback in three decades), and the Browns offered Custis a chance to play safety instead. When Custis refused, the Browns then offered to release him, on the condition that he would not play for another NFL team. [13]

Canadian football

Custis chose to sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the league that would form the eastern division of the Canadian Football League in 1958. Custis played during Canadian football's transition to its modern era, which apart from the official founding of the CFL is generally regarded as having been completed by 1954 or 1955.

Custis started at quarterback for Hamilton in 1951, becoming the first black player to play quarterback in Canadian professional football. He started every game for Hamilton in 1951, in both the regular season and playoffs, which finished with a 7–5 record. They won their first-round playoff game 24–7 over Toronto in Toronto. They lost in the Eastern finals to Ottawa 9 to 11 in front of a sell-out crowd of over 17,000 at Hamilton Civic Stadium. Custis was named to the IRFU All Star team as a quarterback in 1951. [11]

Despite being an All-Star at quarterback, he was switched to running back in 1952, where he was also a successful player. The 1952 Tiger-Cats had an outstanding regular season, finishing 9–2–1, but lost in the playoff finals to Toronto 7–12.

In 1953, Custis played for Hamilton in their victory in the 41st Grey Cup game, the Canadian pro football championship game, defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 12–6.
[14] [15]

Custis finished his professional career with the Ottawa Rough Riders, playing running back in 1955 and 1956. [16]

Coaching career

After the end of his professional career, he stayed in Canada and began a career as a teacher and elementary school principal. At the same time, he coached junior level football, most notably with the Oakville Black Knights and Burlington Braves of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL). At Burlington, he coached future Canadian Football Hall of Fame player Tony Gabriel.

From 1973 to 1980, he served as a head coach at Sheridan College. During his tenure, his record was 86–14, winning six consecutive Eastern College Championships from 1973–78. [17]

In 1981, he accepted the head coach position at McMaster University. In his second year with the Marauders, he improved the team's standing from seventh to first place. Over eight seasons he led the Marauders to a 31–23–1 record. He was named the OUAA Coach of the Year in 1982 and 1984 and was named CIAU Coach of the Year in 1982. He was inducted into the McMaster Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. [18]

In 1994, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a "builder" for his contributions to junior and college football in Canada. [16]

Highlights and honors

As a player

As a coach

See also

Related Research Articles

Canadian Football Hall of Fame Canadian football museum in Ontario, Canada.

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame (CFHOF) is a not-for-profit corporation, located in Hamilton, Ontario, that celebrates great achievements in Canadian football. It is maintained by the Canadian Football League (CFL). It includes displays about the CFL, Canadian university football and Canadian junior football history.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Canadian Football League team from Hamilton, Ontario

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a professional Canadian football team based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. They are currently members of the East Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The Tiger-Cats play their home games at Tim Hortons Field. They were founded in 1869 as the Hamilton Football Club. In 1950, the Tigers merged with cross-town upstart Hamilton Wildcats and adopted the nickname "Tiger-Cats".

Bernie Faloney

Bernie Faloney was a professional football player in the Canadian Football League and an outstanding American college football player at the University of Maryland. Born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, Faloney is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Hall of Fame, and the University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame. Faloney's jersey #10 was retired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1999. In 2005, Faloney was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. In 2006, Faloney was voted to the Honour Roll of the CFL's Top 50 Players of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.

After a 17-year absence, the Saskatchewan Roughriders returned to the Grey Cup final. Their losing streak in the big game continued, however, as it was the other Rough Riders that took home the prize.

The Edmonton Eskimos upset the Montreal Alouettes to send the Grey Cup trophy back west for the first time since 1948.

Tony Gabriel

Anthony Michael Peter Gabriel is a former professional Canadian football pass receiver who played in the Canadian Football League from 1971 to 1981. He played for both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in August 1985. In 2014, he was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

The 1958 CFL season was the inaugural season of the Canadian Football League. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers met again for Canadian football supremacy. The Bombers turned the tables on the Tiger-Cats this time, winning their first Grey Cup since 1941.

The 1959 CFL season was the sixth season in modern Canadian professional football, although officially it was the second season of the Canadian Football League. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers played the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the third straight time in the Grey Cup final. The Bombers won the rubber match in a defensive showdown.

"Indian" Jack Jacobs was an American and Canadian football player in the National Football League and Western Interprovincial Football Union. He was a charter member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Sam Etcheverry

Samuel "The Rifle" Etcheverry was a professional American and Canadian football player and head coach. Etcheverry played the quarterback position, most famously with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, and was named Canadian football's Most Outstanding Player in 1954. Etcheverry's jersey #92 is one of seven retired by the Alouettes.

Charles "Chuck" Ealey is a former American Canadian football player for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He became the first black quarterback to win the Grey Cup when he led Hamilton to the title in 1972. Ealey played college football at the University of Toledo and high school football for Notre Dame High School in Portsmouth, Ohio. He finished both his high school and collegiate careers without a single loss, and was named to several All-American teams as a senior at Toledo.

Syracuse Orange football

The Syracuse Orange represent Syracuse University in the sport of American football. The Orange compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Mike Morreale is a former award-winning receiver in the Canadian Football League.

Bernie Ruoff is a former punter and placekicker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1975 to 1979 and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1980 to 1987 of the Canadian Football League. He finished his CFL career in 1988, playing 5 games for the British Columbia Lions. Ruoff scored 1,772 points in 14 seasons in the CFL and is one of the leading scorers in league history. He also holds CFL records for the longest field goal, most punts in one game, and most punting yards in one game. He attended college at Syracuse University, where he played for Hall of Fame coach Ben Schwartzwalder. He attended Cameron Heights Collegiate School.

Frank Cosentino is a former Canadian football quarterback in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and a former head coach in University football. He played professionally for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts for ten years where he was a two-time Grey Cup champion, winning in 1963 and 1965. He was head coach of the Western Mustangs football team for five years where he led the team to two Vanier Cup wins in 1971 and 1974 before completing his coaching career with the York Yeomen. Cosentino was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

Brian Mercer "Old Man of the Mountain" Timmis was a star senior Canadian football player in the Saskatchewan Rugby Football Union (SRFU) and Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU) for a combined 17 seasons, mainly for the Hamilton Tigers. He is a three-time Grey Cup champion as a player, having won with the Tigers in 1928, 1929, and 1932. He later coached the Hamilton Flying Wildcats, leading them to the 1943 Grey Cup championship. He was an inaugural member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963 and was also inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. Brian Timmis Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario was named after him.

McMaster Marauders football University Canadian football team

The McMaster Marauders football team represents McMaster University based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The team plays U Sports football in the Ontario University Athletics conference. The Marauders have been playing organized football since 1901 when they played their first exhibition game in the Canadian Intercollegiate Rugby Football Union. The team has appeared in four Vanier Cup games, winning one in 2011.

The 2015 Canadian Football League season was the 62nd season of modern Canadian professional football. Officially, it was the 58th season of the league. The Edmonton Eskimos won the 103rd Grey Cup on November 29, defeating the Ottawa Redblacks 26–20 in Winnipeg. The schedule was released February 13, 2015 and the regular season began on June 25, 2015.

The Commissioner's Award is presented annually by the Commissioner of the Canadian Football League to an individual or individuals who have demonstrated dedication and made a significant contribution to Canadian Football. The award was first introduced in the 1990 CFL season.

Kojo Aidoo is a former Canadian football fullback and special teams specialist who played for the Edmonton Eskimos, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League (CFL) from 2003 to 2007.

References

  1. "Meet Bernie Custis, football's first African-American quarterback". thestar.com. August 12, 2011.
  2. Note: Fritz Pollard is credited by some as being the first African-American quarterback in pro football. In 1923 Pollard took several direct snaps from the center in an NFL game for the Hammond Pros.
  3. "Hamilton school to be named after Bernie Custis, pro football's 1st black starting QB". CBC News . September 18, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  4. https://obittree.com/obituary/ca/ontario/burlington/smiths-funeral-home/bernie-custis/2850741/.php%5B%5D
  5. John Bartram High School
  6. 1 2 Bucholtz, Andrew (August 23, 2011). "Trailblazing quarterback Bernie Custis deserves more recognition - 55 Yard Line - CFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports". Ca.sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  7. "1948 Syracuse Orange Schedule and Results | College Football at". Sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  8. "1949 Syracuse Orange Schedule and Results | College Football at". Sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  9. "1950 Syracuse Orange Schedule and Results | College Football at". Sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  10. "Cornell Gains Big Edge In Pre-Game Vandalism". Press and Sun-Bulletin. Binghamton, New York. October 6, 1950. p. 24. Retrieved December 5, 2020 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  11. 1 2 "Syracuse football links: Former Orange QB Bernie Custis honored for breaking down barriers". syracuse. August 12, 2011.
  12. "Syracuse University Athletics - OFFENSIVE SEASON-BY-SEASON LEADERS". Suathletics.syr.edu. January 9, 2011. Archived from the original on December 23, 2009. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  13. jpb531 (August 13, 2011). "Syracuse QB Bernie Custis Honored For Breaking Color Barrier - Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician". Nunesmagician.com. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  14. "Trailblazing quarterback Bernie Custis deserves more recognition". Bernie Curtis.
  15. "Hamilton Tiger-Cats".
  16. 1 2 3 4 "Bernie Custis". Canadian Football Hall Of Fame. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
  17. "Hall of Fame Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Oakville, Brampton, Mississauga". Sheridancollege.ca. Archived from the original on December 12, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  18. "McMaster - McMaster Hall of Fame". Marauders.ca. Retrieved August 28, 2011.

Videos