Many great tailbacks paraded through the Argonaut backfield in the 1970's, but only one of them ever broke the 1,000 yard barrier, which is the standard for which great runners are judged. His name is Doyle Orange.
He did not arrive with the same hoopla associated with big names such as Anthony Davis, Terry Metcalf and Leon McQuay, who were looked on to be saviours of a team that carried a long Grey Cup drought. However, his performance in the 1975 season overshadowed all the others, as he rushed for 1,055 yards on 205 carries, only the second Argo to break the magic 1,000 yard plateau (Bill Symons was the first with 1,107 yards in 1968).
"Everybody had a decent running back at that time," said a humble Orange, trying to downplay his accomplishments against the likes of George Reed, Jimmy Edwards and Willie Burden.
Orange first arrived to Toronto from Southern Mississippi University in 1974, and promptly rushed for 870 yards on 179 carries, impressive stats for a rookie. Equally impressive was the fact Orange wasn't always the go-to-guy in the backfield, as he alternated handoffs with fellow rookie Ed Shuttlesworth, who finished with 866 yards himself. With Shuttlesworth taking a back seat in 1975, Orange became the head banana in the backfield, but in 1976 he ironically suffered a similar fate when Anthony Davis came to town. Relegated to back-up duty, Orange gained only 101 yards on 28 carries, and after an attempt to make the NFL Atlanta Falcons, the team that originally drafted him, failed, he retired from football.
"A couple of people I knew said (Canadian football) was a good brand of ball, a wide-open and exciting game," said Orange, in remembering his first contact with the CFL and the Argos. "(The rules were different), but from a running back's point of view, it's still just football."
After hanging up the cleats for good, Orange went to work for the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation Department, where he can still be found monitoring playgrounds like Christie Pits. He is also an occasional guest instructor at youth football camps in the city, where he hooks up with old teammates and relives the best part of being a football player.
"That was the big highlight, playing with some fine young men and enjoying the camaraderie," said Orange.
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