Canadian Football Hall of Fame announces class of 2023
The newest player members of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame were announced Thursday, highlighted by first-year eligible players: American defensive end John Bowman and Nigerian-born linebacker Solomon Elimimian getting the call to the Hall of Fame.
They will be joined by Canadian offensive linemen Josh Bourke and Lloyd Fairbanks, along with American defensive back Larry Crawford in the player category. To be inducted in the builder category are former coach Jacques Dussault and the eighth commissioner of the Canadian Football League, Larry Smith. Long-time CFL on TSN producer Jon Hynes, late Grey Cup champion, TSN analyst Chris Schultz were announced as inductees into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing alongside accomplished writer Vicki Hall as members of the 2023 class.
Titans of the game immortalized.— CFL (@CFL) March 16, 2023
Presenting your @CFHOF Class of 2023!
🗞: https://t.co/Dnbr8RFRtD pic.twitter.com/6BmTsZHmlp
“On behalf of the entire Canadian football community, it’s my distinct privilege to open the doors of the Hall of Fame to the Class of ‘23,” said CFHoF Executive Director Eric Noivo in a statement. “Their play on the field and their efforts to build up Canadian football have made our game what it is today. I would like to extend my gratitude to the selection committee for their time and dedication to honouring our inductees and celebrating their tremendous achievements.”
The class of 2023 will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame on Sept. 15, with members of the incoming class to be honoured at halftime on Sept. 16 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the annual Hall of Fame Game.
Bourke was selected by the Montreal Alouettes with the 21st overall pick in the 2004 CFL Draft, though the Windsor, Ont., native elected to play another season at Grand Valley State.
Following his collegiate career, Bourke signed with the Green Bay Packers of the NFL but never saw action in a regular-season game and was released in 2007. Bourke joined the Alouettes in 2007, and in 2008 earned his first CFL All-Star honour. An anchor on the Alouettes’ offensive line for nine seasons (2007-15), Bourke was named a CFL East Division All-Star in six seven consecutive seasons (2008-14), was named the league’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2011, and earned back-to-back league All-Star accolades in 2011 and 2012.
Bourke was a member of the back-to-back grey Cup-winning Alouettes teams of 2009 and 2010 before electing to sign with the Toronto Argonauts as a free agent in 2016. Bourke played 10 games for the Double Blue before suffering a season-ending injury.
Bourke announced his retirement in 2017 at the age of 34 and is currently serving as a CFL medical board member and a CFL Players' Association player representative.
Bowman, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., headed north of the border to join the Alouettes in 2006 following time in the National Indoor Football League.
Bowman played 14 seasons for the Alouettes (2006-14), earning nine East Division All-Star nods and two league All-Star honours. Bowman helped the Als capture their first Grey Cup title since 2002 in the 2009 season and again the following 2010 season. Bowman is the Alouettes' all-time franchise leader with 134 career sacks and seventh all-time in the CFL.
Following his retirement, Bowman joined the Lions staff in 2022 as their defensive line coach. The Lions garnered the third-most sacks in 2022 with 45 and allowed the third-fewest points-per-game (22.5).
Crawford played nine CFL seasons for the BC Lions (1981-89) and Toronto Argonauts (1989). The Miami, Fla., native was named a Division All-Star on five occasions from 1983 to 1987 and a CFL All-Star four times during that period.
During his time as a defensive back, Crawford tallied 52 career interceptions, with his league-leading 12 interceptions in 1983 remaining the fourth-highest single-season total in CFL history. Crawford also amassed 4,159 punt return yards to rank second.
A product of Iowa State, the former Hawkeye appeared in three Grey Cup games, winning the 73rd Grey Cup in 1985 over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a member of the Lions.
Hailing from Calabar, Nigeria, Elimimian entered the CFL in 2010 with the BC Lions after being released by the National Football League's Buffalo Bills following two pre-season games.
In his rookie season, Elimimian led the Lions with 77 defensive tackles, 11 special teams tackles, and five sacks in only 16 games played, and was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie Award. Elimimian tallied 98 defensive tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and forced fumbles the following 2011 season, helping the Lions capture their first Grey Cup title since 2006. After spending the 2012 season in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns, Elimimian returned to the Lions. In his 2014 season, Elimimian set a new CFL record for most tackles in a season with 143. He was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player and the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Elimimian played six seasons with the Lions (2012-18), taking home another Most Outstanding Defensive Player honour in 2016. A four-time CFL All-Star and six-time West Division All-Star, Elimimian finished his CFL career in Saskatchewan with the Roughriders (2019-20), when he helped the Green and White finish first in the West Division for the first time since 2009.
In 2020, Elimimian was elected president of the Canadian Football Players' Association.
A product of Brigham Young University and the pride of Raymond, Alta., was selected as a territorial protection pick by the Calgary Stampeders in the 1975 CFL Draft.
Fairbanks played 11 of his 17 CFL seasons with the Stampeders (1975-82, 1989-91). In between his two stints with the Red and White, Fairbanks spent time with the Concordes/Alouettes (1983-86) and a pair of seasons with the Tiger-Cats (1987-88).
A seven-time Division All-Star and two-time CFL All-Star, Fairbanks was also named his team's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman 11 times.
Following his playing career at University of Ottawa and McGill University, Dussault began coaching high school football in 1975. The Quebec City native was named a defensive coach of the Concordes in 1982, making him the first French-speaking coach in CFL history. Following five seasons with the Concordes/Alouettes, Dussault coached at Acadia University and Mount Allison.
Dussault returned to the Alouettes in 1997, before being called back to the amateur ranks to lead the development of young players with the University of Montreal Carabins.
Drafted first overall in the 1972 CFL Draft by the Alouettes out of Bishop’s University, Smith spent nine seasons in the Alouettes’ backfield, winning Grey Cup titles in 1974 and 1977.
Following his playing days and 10 years spent working in the financial services industry, Smith was appointed the eighth commissioner of the CFL in 1992. He helmed the league through a significant time of transition – first during its expansion into the U.S., and then as the Alouettes returned to his hometown in 1996 to reunite the league’s nine Canadian clubs.Smith joined the Alouettes as club president in 1997 and served until 2001, and again oversaw the team from 2004-10, when he earned two Grey Cup championships as an executive in 2009 and 2010. During his tenure, the Hudson, Que., native was recognized with the CFL Commissioner’s Award in 2001, and he co-chaired Montreal’s Grey Cup Committee in 2008.