Eagle Keys

Eagle Keys (December 4, 1923 – December 20, 2012) was a Canadian football player and coach.[1] He is currently fifth all-time in regular season wins with 131 as a head coach in the Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Eagle Keys
Born:(1923-12-04)December 4, 1923
Tompkinsville, Kentucky
Died:December 20, 2012(2012-12-20) (aged 89)
Burnaby, British Columbia
Career information
CFL statusInternational
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight215 lb (98 kg)
CollegeWestern Kentucky
Career history
As coach
19551958Edmonton Eskimos (A. coach)
19591963Edmonton Eskimos (HC)
1964Saskatchewan Roughriders (OC)
19651970Saskatchewan Roughriders (HC)
19711975BC Lions (HC)
As player
19491951Montreal Alouettes
19521954Edmonton Eskimos
Career highlights and awards
CFL East All-Star1949, 1950, 1951
CFL West All-Star1951, 1953, 1954
Career stats

Early life

Keys was an outstanding center and linebacker for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers football team in 1942 and, after a stint in the military (Marine Corps) in World War II, 1946 and '47. He also lettered in baseball (pitcher-outfielder) three straight years (1946–48) after the War. He was an All-KIAC (Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) selection in football as a senior. His 1946 baseball team went a perfect 9–0, outscoring the opponents by an average of five runs a game.

Eagle "Buddy" Keys was inducted into the Western Kentucky University Athletic Hall of Fame (Football-Baseball '42, '46–48) in 1994.

Professional career

Following his career on the Hill, Keys moved north to play professional football in the Canadian Football League. He was All-Eastern Conference for three straight years (1949–51) with the Montreal Alouettes and then he earned a berth on the All-Western Conference team throughout the next three seasons while playing for the Edmonton Eskimos. He is best remembered as a player for his final game when he played on a broken leg in the Eskimos' 1954 Grey Cup triumph.

Coaching career

After his six years as a player, he put in six more years as an assistant coach in the CFL before being named head coach of the Eskimos in 1959. He coached Edmonton from 1959 until 1963, became an assistant coach with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1964 and was promoted to head coach in 1965. He was awarded the CFL Coach of the Year award in 1968. In 1970, the Roughriders finished with a mark of 14 wins and 2 losses, a CFL record that stood until 1989 when Edmonton went 16–2 (by that time, the CFL had expanded its regular season schedule to 18 games). Keys resigned at the end of that season and coached the British Columbia Lions from 1971 until partway through the 1975 season. In 1966, he won his only championship as a head coach, with his Roughriders team winning the 54th Grey Cup (which was also the team's first CFL championship in team history). As such, he was voted the All-Time All-Star Coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In total, he spent 16 seasons as a head coach in the Canadian Football League.

CFL Coaching record

TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostResult
EDM1959 1060.6252nd in WIFU22Lost in WIFU Finals
EDM1960 1060.6252nd in WIFU42Lost in Grey Cup
EDM1961 1051.6562nd in Western Conference11Lost in Conference Semi-Finals
EDM1962 691.4065th in Western ConferenceMissed Playoffs
EDM1963 2140.1255th in Western ConferenceMissed Playoffs
EDM Total 38402.4880 Western
750 Grey Cups
SSK1965 871.5313rd in West Conference01Lost in Conference Semi-Finals
SSK1966 961.5941st in West Conference30Won Grey Cup
SSK1967 1240.7502nd in West Conference32Lost in Grey Cup
SSK1968 1231.7811st in West Conference02Lost in Conference Finals
SSK1969 1330.8131st in West Conference21Lost in Grey Cup
SSK1970 1420.8751st in West Conference12Lost in Conference Finals
SSK Total 68253.7244 Western Conference
981 Grey Cup
BC1971 691.4064th in Western ConferenceMissed Playoffs
BC1972 5110.3135th in Western ConferenceMissed Playoffs
BC1973 592.3753rd in Western Conference01Lost in Division Semi-Finals
BC1974 880.5003rd in Western Conference01Lost in Division Semi-Finals
BC1975 150.1675th in Western Conference(Fired)
BC Total 25423.3790 Western Conference
020 Grey Cups
Total 1311078.5494 Western Conference
12121 Grey Cup

Canadian Football Hall of Fame

He retired from coaching after the 1975 season and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1990. His 131 wins as a coach in the CFL still stands as the fifth highest victory total for a head coach in the league. He was elected as a builder on April 28, 1990.

Personal life

Keys had retired and was living in Burnaby, British Columbia, until his death on December 20, 2012. He and his wife Joyce (née White), also deceased, had five children.

See also


  1. Vanstone, Rob. "Former Roughriders coach Eagle Keys dead at 89". Leaderpost.com. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
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