Rob Vanstone: A legendary linebacker in our midst — Wayne Shaw visits training camp
Fifty-plus years removed from his final game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Wayne Shaw still won’t miss a day of training camp.
Even when it turns into raining camp, as it did for a while on Wednesday, the legendary linebacker refuses to interrupt his routine of walking 40 minutes to attend Coors Light Riders Training Camp at Griffiths Stadium.
In fact, the 84-years-young Saskatoon resident was one of the earliest arrivals for the Roughriders’ most-recent workout.
“One of the coaches was even looking up and waving at me,” Shaw said. “I guess he thought it was nice to have one guy in the stands.”
The crowd eventually filled out quite nicely, despite the chilly conditions. By the end of the session, the sun was peeking through the clouds and Shaw was sitting back in the stands.
In many ways, he looked like just any other long-time fan who was proudly wearing a Roughriders cap.
But nobody else who witnessed Wednesday’s workout was wearing a Plaza of Honour ring and a replica 2013 Grey Cup ring.
Shaw actually has a championship ring of his own — he played on the Roughriders’ first Grey Cup-winning team, in 1966 — but that keepsake is now in Winnipeg with his daughter, Kim.
The 12-year CFLer and six-time All-Star eventually purchased a replica version of all four of the Roughriders’ Grey Cup rings. On Wednesday, he chose the 2013 version, with the surname of quarterback Darian Durant engraved on the side.
Despite the bling, Shaw isn’t the least bit ostentatious. He would rather show off his expansive book collection than his rings.
“I try to keep my mind active, and reading certainly helps,” he said.
“Obesity is one of the worst diseases known to mankind, so this helps me keep in shape. If I walk over here, I end up sleeping better and I rant less.
“I live by myself, so that is another reason why I come out here. Otherwise, I feel like I am in solitary confinement.”
On most days, Shaw is joined at training camp by a former Saskatoon Hilltops teammate, Jim Coleman.
Shaw spent two seasons with the Hilltops before joining the Roughriders in 1961.
After playing in 13 of a possible 16 games as a rookie, Shaw missed only two contests over his final 11 seasons with the Roughriders. In fact, he played in every game over his final six seasons.
Over the final eight years, he was a teammate of Alan Ford.
“The player I’m mainly watching this year is Alan Ford’s grandson,” Shaw said of defensive back Jaxon Ford, whom the Roughriders selected in the second round (11th overall) of the 2023 CFL Draft.
Of course, Shaw still keeps a close eye on the linebackers. And let’s not forget the quarterbacks — especially a heated battle between Mason Fine, Jake Dolegala and Shea Patterson for the No. 2 job, behind Trevor Harris.
“They all seem to be pretty good,” Shaw commented. “If you don’t have that guy at quarterback, you’re in trouble. It wasn’t until Ronnie Lancaster got here in ’63 that we really took off.”
Also in 1963, Shaw was named a Western Conference All-Star for the first of six times. He was also an All-Canadian in 1967.
Even after retirement, the honours continued to roll in. Shaw entered the Roughriders’ Plaza of Honour (in 1994), the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1995) and the Regina Sports Hall of Fame (2004).
Not bad for a kid who grew up on a farm between Bladworth and Davidson.
“I remember being five years old and milking the cows before I went to school,” Shaw recalled. “My four brothers and I drank a lot of milk.”
One of those brothers, Cliff, was also a member of the Roughriders’ linebacking corps. Cliff and Wayne were teammates from 1966 to 1970.
For Wayne Shaw, playing alongside his younger brother was one of many highlights of being a Roughrider.
“It really was a great time,” he reflected. “I enjoyed every minute of those 12 years.”
Rain or shine.
A FINE DAY
Despite the wet conditions, Fine put on a show during Wednesday’s workout.
In short order, the third-year Roughriders quarterback fired touchdown passes to Samuel Emilus, Keith Corbin III and Shawn Bane Jr., during a red-zone drill.
“(Fine) had a good day,” Head Coach Craig Dickenson said. “Trevor’s gone, so the young quarterbacks got a little more work today.”
Harris flew out of Saskatoon on Wednesday morning to be with his wife, Kalie, in Marion, Ohio, for the birth of the couple’s third child.
Dolegala demonstrated his arm strength, again, while firing a rope to Mitch Picton on a route over the middle.
Patterson aired it out on a long, precise pass to Bane Jr.
The defence also had its moments, especially when Amari Henderson made a diving interception — inciting a celebration that, for obvious reasons, did not include members of the offence.
Veteran cornerback Nic Marshall broke up a different passing play, as has been his custom throughout camp.
Clearly, the elements did not prevent players on both sides of the ball from making plays.
“It was just what the doctor ordered,” Dickenson said of the rainy day. “I think the guys were a little tired. I think the routine was getting old, so to come out in a little bit of rain and see some puddles, I think the guys actually enjoyed it.
“I was glad it rained. It was good for us to get used to some elements and it just changed up the feel of it a little bit.”
- Weather aside, there was still one shower of note on Wednesday. The 27th birthday of linebacker Micah Teitz was commemorated by several teammates, who gleefully doused him with the contents of a Gatorade bucket.
- The Roughriders are back on the field at Griffiths Stadium on Thursday and Friday before travelling to Regina for the pre-season opener — Saturday, 5 p.m., against the B.C. Lions at Mosaic Stadium. Harris could very well rejoin the team in time for the opening kickoff. Even if he is back, he will watch from the sideline as the coaches appraise Fine, Dolegala and Patterson under game conditions.
- Next week, the Roughriders are to practise in Saskatoon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before flying to Winnipeg for a June 2 pre-season game against the Blue Bombers. Then it is back to Saskatoon, one more time, before the team embarks for Regina on the afternoon of June 4. The regular-season opener is set for June 11 against the host Edmonton Elks.