The 1971 Grey Cup game was admittedly one of the most heartbreaking losses in team history, but to hear Dave Cranmer tell it, you would never think that to be the case.
"It's the most important football game in Canada, and I relished the thought of just being there and experiencing it," said Cranmer.
A native of Sarnia, Ontario, Cranmer attended Bowling Green University in Ohio and entered the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders, where he earned the western conference's rookie-of-the-year award in 1968. The slotback/running back rushed for 572 yards on 140 attempts, and gained another 492 yards on 34 pass receptions. He had appeared in two losing Grey Cup efforts as a Stampeder, and then came to the Double Blue in 1971, where he was again a victim of Grey Cup defeat, this time ironically at the hands of his former team.
"At the time, you go, 'what the heck is going on here'," said Cranmer, who then briefly gets a hold of himself and starts smiling, just being thankful for having had the opportunity to play professional football. "We always used to giggle when we realized we got paid for something we loved to do."
But paid they did get, and quite well in fact, as the Argos would regularly outbid NFL teams for the services of top American players, like Joe Theismann, Tim Anderson, Noah Jackson and many others. But the money never got in the way of team camaraderie, which Cranmer said was especially strong on the 1971 Argo team.
"I think that's why we did so well," said Cranmer. "You have to have talent, but the talent has to have the capacity to work together. We cared for each other. It was a wonderful experience with these guys."
When he came to the Argos in 1971, Cranmer was mainly used as a receiver, catching 27 passes for 506 yards, while rushing only 12 times for 46 yards. An abdominal injury shortened his 1972 season, when he caught 17 passes for 310 yards, and the year after, he was forced to call it quits.
During and after his football career, Cranmer was in the stock market business for many years in Toronto and Calgary, and then returned to his first love, teaching. For the last six years, he has taught physical education and math at Lorne Park Secondary School in Mississauga, where he has also coached football, basketball and rugby.
"It's wonderful," says Cranmer of his new career. On the family front, he has two children, daughter Deby, who is a dental hygienist working in Switzerland, and son Paul, who is a former Argo himself. Paul played two games for the Argos in 1994, and bounced around the CFL just like his dad, one of the few father-son combinations in team history.
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