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CFL to honor Green Valley’s Roy Shivers, first Black GM

When the Raiders named Sandra Douglass Morgan the NFL’s first Black female president Thursday, a lifetime football man applauded from his home in Green Valley.

“I loved it,” Roy Shivers said about a person of color knocking down barriers and stereotypes — something he did for more than three decades in the Canadian Football League en route to becoming pro football’s first Black general manager in 1995.

The longtime Southern Nevada resident will be enshrined in the league’s Hall of Fame September 16 during a ceremony at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario. He said he was proud of what he accomplished as a CFL pioneer.

“I wanted to win football games, but I also wanted to make a change in the way some things were done with Black coaches, administrators and personnel people,” said Shivers, who hired many of them in rebuilding the Saskatchewan Roughriders into Grey Cup contenders.

A running back at Utah State and for the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals, he later became a UNLV assistant coach under Tony Knap. Shivers, who turned 80 Tuesday, spent 32 years as a CFL scouting and front-office executive.

During his UNLV stint, he recruited record-setting quarterback Sam King and other standouts. Shivers was perhaps best known for turning little-known U.S. college players into bonafide stars north of the border — which led to several NFL scouting opportunities.

“I thought about it, but said I rather be a big fish in a small pond than a little fish in a big pond,” he said. “They pitched the part about retirement (benefits) and all of that and maybe I should have done it. But I enjoyed what I did and where I did it.”

He even enjoyed Saskatchewan. Always one to tell it like it is, Shivers resigned in his seventh season as GM of the publicly owned Roughriders following a disagreement with his board of directors. The next year, the team and staff he had assembled in the forlorn plains of Regina province won the Grey Cup.

“You could see it coming,” he said of Saskatchewan winning the CFL Super Bowl. “You could (also) stand on a chair and see Chicago, it was so flat.”

Around the horn

— A somewhat dubious date in CFL history was observed Friday. On July 8, 1996, the defunct Las Vegas Posse defeated the equally defunct Sacramento Gold Miners 32-26 in the first CFL game played between U.S. franchises.

Despite being there, I don’t remember much about the game except for riding a rickety elevator/cage to the press box at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento that proved to be slightly less shaky than Canadian football’s future in the United States.

— Facts and observations about longtime Las Vegan George Kunz, who Thursday was named one of 25 senior semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023:

He was the second overall pick in the 1969 NFL draft — behind O.J. Simpson — and made the Pro Bowl seven times in his injury-shortened nine-year career with the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Colts. He is considered one of the best offensive linemen of his generation.

He also is considered one of the nicest guys of his — or any — generation.

— Kris Bryant’s return to active duty with the Colorado Rockies is going much better than his recent rehab assignment (lower back) at Las Vegas Ballpark in his hometown.

After getting just one hit in 13 at-bats and striking out seven times times in four games with the Albuquerque Isotopes, entering Saturday’s game the former Bonanza High star was 11-for-28 (.393) since returning to the bigs.

Bryant, the 2016 N.L. MVP, hit his first home run of 2022 off former College of Southern Nevada standout Phil Bickford of the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday before adding two more long balls in a 6-5 victory at Arizona Friday night.

0:01

— Carson City sports columnist Joe Santoro, on the possibility of the Pac-12 poaching Boise State and San Diego State to replace Big-10 bound Southern California and UCLA:

“Just when you thought the Mountain West couldn’t get any more meaningless, boring, insignificant, unimportant and trivial, along comes a possible threat that would make it even more meaningless, insignificant and unimportant.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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