1950's All-Decade Team

15 Jun 2024

EDMONTON – The first of the Double E’s All-Decade Teams and the true founding of the Green and Gold.

Edmonton Elks - Figure 1
Photo Edmonton Elks

The 1950’s featured a much different style of game then the one you are used to watching on TSN every weekend. As much as the Canadian game is still influenced by it’s rugby roots, it was a much more hardnosed, run-oriented type game of in the ’50s. The lineups featured no wide receivers, plenty of running backs, and hardly anyone in the secondary. It was a far cry from the motion-filled excitement that the CFL currently features, but it was a classic style of football that laid the foundation for what was to come.

The era is one of great historical significance for Canadian Football. The 1950’s saw the merger of the Western Interprovincial Football Union and the Interprovincial Rugby football Union (referred to as the Big Four) and the official formation of the Canadian Football League in 1958.

It was also an incredible decade for the Edmonton Football franchise, who was officially established in 1949.  The ’50s saw the first EE dynasty, capturing three consecutive Grey Cup Championships from 1954 to 1956. The decade saw Edmonton’s first appearance in the championship game since the 10th Grey Cup, where the original Edmonton Rugby Football club  — also named the Edmonton Elks — competed for the Grey Cup in 1922.

It was an era where some of the best talent from down south would forgo the National Football League, which was still over a decade away from playing the first Super Bowl, to play in Canada. Edmonton, in particular, was a beneficiary of the influx of talent due to a variety of factors. A great example is the legendary Johnny Bright, who retired as the CFL’s all-time leading rusher, became a principal in Edmonton, and has both a school and sports park named after him in the city. He first came to Edmonton in response to the racial prejudice he suffered in the United States while a Heisman Trophy candidate at Drake University. Fellow Edmonton great Jackie Parker joined the Esks because his former college teammate was the head coach. Parker legendarily stayed with the EE despite New York Giants owner Wellington Mara travelling North and offering him more money, because his wife preferred Edmonton over New York.

Edmonton Elks - Figure 2
Photo Edmonton Elks

The stories from the 50’s are iconic, and they built the foundation for what the Edmonton Football franchise would be moving forward. The 1950’s All-Decade Team contains eight members of the EE’s Wall of Honour and nine Canadian Football Hall of Famers. Here is the first of seven All-Decade teams to be revealed as a part of the EE’s 75th Season.


Frank ‘Pop’ Ivy

The head coach of the three-in-a-row teams, Ivy departed the CFL with a career winning percentage of .781. He is the only coach in pro football to coach in the AFL, CFL , and NFL.


Quarterback – Jackie Parker

Parker is a seven-time Jeff Nickin Award winner for West Division Most Outstanding Player, and a three-time Schenley Award winner for the league’s Most Outstanding Player. Finished his CFL career with 16,476 passing yards, 5,210 rushing yards, and 174 total touchdowns.

Running Back – Rollie Miles

A versatile athlete, Miles is considered by many the best two-way plyer to ever play in Canada. In addition to playing football, he played professional baseball including two games for the Cleveland Indians. Miles was an eight time team all-star at several different positions and also features on the all-decade team on defence and special teams.

Running Back – Billy Vessels

A Heisman trophy winner, Vessels was the second-overall pick in the 1953 NFL Draft but chose to play in Canada. He is the first player to win the Schenley Award as the league’s Most Outstanding Player.

Full Back – Normie Kwong

A trailblazer, Kwong scored 77 touchdowns and rushed for 8,769 yards in his Canadian Football Career and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. Was the 16th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.

Full Back – Johnny Bright

Edmonton Elks - Figure 3
Photo Edmonton Elks
Bright ran for an incredible 10,909 in his career and was a seven-time all-star. The photo from the “Johnny Bright Incident,” a horrific racially motivated attack on Bright during a game with Drake college, ran in the Life magazine and won a Pulitzer Prize. He is a member of both the Canadian Sport Hall of Fame and U.S. College Football Hall of Fame.

Tight End – Rollin Praether

Played with the Green and Gold from 1950-1954 and hols the CFL playoff record for receptions in a game with 15.

Tight End – Steve Bendiak

Bendiak is a three-time Grey Cup Champion and is enshrined in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Offensive Tackle – Leon Manley

Manley played for both versions of the Green and Gold, in the Esks and the Green Bay Packers. He was a CFL All-Star in 1953.

Offensive Tackle – Roger Nelson

Nelson has a 13-year CFL career and is a member of the EE’s Wall of Honour. He is also a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Offensive Guard – Frank Morris

A winner, Morris in both a football operations and player role made 18 trips to the Grey Cup, with 13 wins over the course of his Canadian Football career.

Offensive Guard – Mario Demarco

Demarco was a key member of the Green and gold in 1951 and 1952, being named a CFL All-star in both seasons. He tragically passed away in 1956 in the Crash of Flight 810.

Centre – Eagle Keys

Won the Grey Cup with the EE in 1954, playing the game on a broken leg.


Defensive End – Ed Gray

Gray was a two-time CFL West Division All-star and played six seasons in Green and Gold.

Defensive End – Frank Anderson

Nicknamed ‘Guts,’ Anderson is a three time Grey Cup champion and a Wall of Honour inductee.

Edmonton Elks - Figure 4
Photo Edmonton Elks

Defensive Tackle – Bob Dean

A three-time Grey Cup Champion, Dean played offence and defence and kicked the convert that tied the 1954 Grey Cup. He lived in Edmonton post-career, coaching several local teams to High School Football Championships

Defensive Tackle – Art Walker

A four-time CFL West Division All-star, Walker played on both the offensive and defensive line for the Esks and is a two-time Grey Cup Champion.

Middle Guard – Bill Zock

A Canadian Football Hall of Famer, Zock is a six-time Grey Cup Champion.

Inside Linebacker – Tedd Tully 

Tully played 12 seasons in the Canadian Football League and was a Western All-star every year from 1955 to 1958.

Inside Linebacker – Gino Fracas

Won Grey Cups with the Esks in 1955 and 1956, before eventually retiring and coaching the Alberta Golden Bears. A member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Corner Linebacker – Steve Mendryk

An original member of the Edmonton Football franchise, Mendryk played nine seasons in Edmonton before retiring and becoming a University of Alberta professor.

Corner Linebacker – Earl Lindley

Lindley played four seasons in Edmonton, winning three Grey Cups. He is a member of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame.

Defensive Halfback – Rollie Miles

Defensive Halfback – Bill Smith

Bill was a member of the 1956 Grey Cup winning Edmonton side, before pursuing a career in politics where he held the title of Mayor of Edmonton from 1995 until 2004.

Safety – Oscar Kruger

Like many on this list, Kruger is a three-time Grey Cup Champion and a member of the EE’s Wall of Honour. Kruger was a local Edmonton product who also played for the Edmonton Wildcats before his 12-year CFL career.


Kicker – Bob Dean

Punter – Rod Pantages

A two-time Grey Cup Champion Pantages had a an eight-year career in Canadian Football.

Kick Returner – Rollie Miles

Punt Returner – Leigh McMillan

McMillan played three seasons for the EE, winning a pair of Grey Cups in 1955 and 1956.

The next Double E All-Decade team will be revealed on July 14 when the Elks take on the Ottawa RedBlacks at Commonwealth Stadium. Once the All-Decade Teams from the 1950s to 2010s are revealed, fans will be able to vote for the greatest team in EE history.

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