Eskimos' Pringle becomes CFL career rushing leader

Mike Pringle passes George Reed as the CFL's all-time leading rusher.

Edmonton Eskimos running back Mike Pringle became the CFL's all-time leading rusher, breaking legendary George Reed's record with a short run early in Saturday's game against the B.C. Lions.

Pringle finished with 13 carries for 63 yards against the Lions, giving him 16,178 yards and counting, just over Reed's career total of 16,116 yards.

The Eskimos lost 36-33 in overtime, putting a sour end to Pringle's milestone night.

The 36-year-old Pringle came into Saturday's crucial West Division contest needing just two yards to pass Reed's mark. The five-foot-eight, 186-pound broke the record with a 10-yard run early in the first quarter.

At the end of the play, a brief ceremony took place as Reed came on the field to present Pringle with a football and a plaque. The pair embraced as the sellout crowd at B.C. Place gave the new rushing leader a standing ovation.

"It's a testament to Mike Pringle's durability and his ability," said CFL on CBC analyst Sean Millington of Pringle's feat.

Pringle almost broke the record in last week's 44-12 home victory over the Calgary Stampeders. With Reed, Pringle's mother Annie, and his wife and two young children in attendance, Pringle finished with 114 yards on the ground, but ultimately fell two yards short of the record.

It was his 73rd 100-yard game, a CFL record he already holds.

The rushing record is just the latest accomplishment in what has been a remarkable career for Pringle.

Pringle, a seven-time all-star and two-time winner of the league's outstanding player award, has rushed for 1,000 or more yards in eight of the last 10 years entering the 2004 season. He is the only player in CFL history ever to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a season (2,065 yards in 1998 with Montreal).

Pringle is also closing in on Reed's touchdown record. Pringle needs three touchdowns to break Reed's career total of 137.

Reed broke into the CFL with Saskatchewan in 1963 and spent his entire 13-year career with the Roughriders. He broke Johnny Bright's CFL career rushing record of 10,909 yards in 1971 and retired as the most prolific running back in pro football history when he hung up the cleat in 1975.

Reed, a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, has surrendered his pro football rushing title in recent years, first to Walter Payton (16,726 yards), then to Emmitt Smith of the Arizona Cardinals (17,418 yards and counting) and now to Pringle.

with files from Canadian Press