Vanstone: Letter from Roy Shivers is a blast from the past

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But after a second consecutive 9-9 regular season, the Roughriders trailed 24-0 at halftime en route to losing 30-14 in Montreal.

I had my say. So did Shivers.

Then others began to weigh in. The topic of Shivers’ letter was raised on John Gormley’s open-line show. Lively debate ensued.

Some readers assumed that the content of his letter had left me devastated.

Not for a second. Criticism comes with the territory. If you give it out, you should be able to take it.

I was the one, ultimately, who created a story file for the letter and submitted it to the copy desk.

Not until the subsequent spring did I chat with Shivers again. He was at a sidewalk cafe in the F.W. Hill Mall. I was leaving the Cornwall Centre.

We had a nice chat, and a few laughs. The letter was never mentioned.

That is how I prefer to remember Shivers’ six-and-a-half-year tenure as the GM.

I enjoyed many long sessions in his office, where we talked about jazz, our fathers and, occasionally, football. There wasn’t even a hint of friction until Burris signed with the Calgary Stampeders as a free agent in 2015, leaving the Roughriders without a franchise quarterback.

Shivers made amends, and then some, by acquiring two future Grey Cup-winning quarterbacks — Kerry Joseph and Darian Durant — in the same 2006 trade.

The Roughriders fired Shivers on Aug. 21 of that year. Fourteen years later, that is but a blip when you consider his legacy in Saskatchewan.

Well into the 2000s, he assembled a nucleus that would help the Roughriders win the Grey Cup in 2007 — a year in which Joseph was named the league’s outstanding player.

Durant piloted the Roughriders to a home-field championship-game victory in 2013. So, even then, Shivers’ impact on the Green and White’s fortunes was undeniable.

In fact, when you take into account Shivers’ contributions to professional three-down football in general, he should be seriously considered for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

We had our differences, obviously, but he is truly deserving of such a red-letter day.

(Rob Vanstone is the Regina Leader-Post’s sports editor.)


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