CFL greats headline 2017 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductees

Six new names will be added to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton on Thursday night, including the game's all-time leading passer, the CFL's receiving-yards leader and the coach with the most wins in Canadian football history.

Anthony Calvillo, Geroy Simon among players being recognized

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017, from left to right, Brian Towriss, Geroy Simon, Stan Schwartz, Mike O'Shea, Anthony Calvillo and Kelvin Anderson. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

Six new names will be added to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton on Thursday night, including the game's all-time leading passer, the CFL's receiving-yards leader and the coach with the most wins in Canadian football history.

Anthony Calvillo, Geroy Simon, Kelvin Anderson and Mike O'Shea will be inducted in the player category, while Stan Schwartz and Brian Towriss enter in the builder category.

Here's a look at each man's career:

Anthony Calvillo

During Calvillo's 20-year quarterbacking career, he played for three different teams: the Las Vegas Posse, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes. While his first two stops were short-lived, his time in Montreal would see Calvillo become pro football's most prolific passer of all time with 79,816 yards through the air.

Calvillo is one of seven pro quarterbacks to have completed more than 400 touchdown passes. NFL stars Brett Favre, Warren Moon, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are the others.

Calvillo won three Grey Cup championships with Montreal and was a five-time CFL all-star. Three times, he was named the league's most outstanding player.

"The first Grey Cup is something that stands out," Calvillo said. "And now I get a chance to go in [to the hall of fame] with so many great names."

Anthony Calvillo is one of seven pro QBs to throw more than 400 touchdowns passes. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Geroy Simon

Simon is a three-time Grey Cup champion and the league's all-time leader with 16,352 receiving yards. He was also named the CFL's most outstanding player in 2006. During a career that spanned 15 years, he played for Winnipeg (1999-2000), B.C. (2001-2012) and Saskatchewan (2013).

Simon had a bumpy start to his career, getting cut from teams early on and wondering when he would get his break.

"I think it was my perseverance and support from my family, friends and people around me who kept me motivated," Simon said.

As for his trademark Superman pose after scoring a touchdown, Simon said it started early in his career as a way to reach out to his son.

"He was just a one-year-old and he was into the Power Rangers and Batman and Superman," he said. "I think it was a road game and I said if I score a touchdown I'm going to do something to let him know daddy loves him and is thinking about him."

Geroy Simon is the CFL's all-time leader in receiving yards. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Kelvin Anderson

It didn't take long for the running back from South Bend, Ind., to make his mark on the CFL. Anderson was named rookie of the year in 1996 and followed it up with three all-star seasons.

He led the West in rushing on four separate occasions and was the division's finalist for most outstanding player in 1998 and 2001. Anderson holds the CFL record for consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons with eight.

He spent most of his time with the Calgary Stampeders, playing for the team from 1996 to 2002 and winning Grey Cups with the Stamps in 1998 and 2001.

"I was very honoured and privileged to get the call to the Hall," he said. "It's been a long time coming."

Mike O'Shea

In a career that spanned 16 seasons, O'Shea split his time between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts.

The linebacker was named rookie of the year in 1993 with Hamilton. After three years with the Ticats, O'Shea joined the Argos after a stint with the Detroit Lions in 1996. He would help anchor the defence for Toronto and be a part of back-to-back Grey Cup champion teams in 1996 and 1997.

O'Shea ranks second on the all-time CFL list for defensive tackles with 1,151. Over his career he had 22 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and 30 quarterback sacks. He would win one more Grey Cup in 2004 with Toronto before retiring after the 2008 season.

O'Shea is now the head coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"It's really hard in such a great team sport to accept these individual awards, so I think of everyone who helped me get here and thank them," O'Shea said of his hall of fame induction.

Brian Towriss

For 33 seasons, Brian Towriss was the head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, and during that time he racked up the most wins in Canadian football history.

At just 27 years old, Towriss moved from former Huskies player to assistant coach before taking over the lead role in 1984. He led the team to three Vanier Cup championships and sent 47 players to the CFL and one to the NFL before stepping down at the end of last season.

"I'm honoured and humbled with this induction," he said. "It came probably sooner than I expected and I didn't go into coaching thinking that this stuff would be happening."

Former head coach Brian Towriss racked up the most wins in Canadian football history in his 33 years with the Saskatchewan Huskies. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press)

Stan Schwartz

Schwartz started his football involvement in the 1970s as the defensive coordinator for the Calgary Mohawks. Six years later, he joined the Stampeders as an assistant coach — a position he held from 1976 until 1983 before taking an executive position.

Schwartz served as the team's president from 1996 to 2003.

"It's certainly a tremendous honour and it's something you never expect," Schwartz said about being inducted into the hall of fame.

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.