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Hugh Campbell led the Eskimos to five straight Grey Cups in the late 1970s and early 1980s. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

Hugh Campbell's 26-year association with the Edmonton Eskimos came to an end Wednesday night when he announced his retirement as president and CEO of the CFL club.

The 65-year-old Campbell made the announcement Wednesday at a dinner attended by several ex-CFL greats, including Warren Moon, Tom Wilkinson, and Ron Lancaster.

"It's time. I'm tired. I would have left two years ago," said Campbell. "I believed the Eskimos deserved to have this transition."

Campbell's retirement comes after the Eskimos stumbled to a 6-11 record through the first 17 games of the season and failed to earn a playoff berth for the first time in 35 years.

Edmonton won the Grey Cup last season.

Campbell, who is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, is considered one of the greatest coaches in CFL history.

After being named Eskimos' head coach in 1977, he led the club to six consecutive first-place finishes in the Western Division, six straight Grey Cup appearances and five Grey Cup wins in a row.

Success was much harder to come by south of the border — Campbell was unable to match his achievements in Edmonton during stints as coach of the Los Angeles Express in the now-defunct USFL and later in the NFL with the Houston Oilers.

Campbell returned to Canada in 1986 when he became general manager of the Eskimos. He became president and CEO of the club 11 years later.

In total, the Eskimos won eight Grey Cups under Campbell.

A product of Washington State University, Campbell played six seasons as a wide receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was a four-time West Division all-star, and won a Grey Cup in 1966 withLancaster as quarterback.

with files from Canadian Press