He was a devastating blocker who routinely drove opposing defenders into the ground. But Warren Hudson will also be remembered as someone who never kicked a fellow player when he was down.
Hudson, who was named the top Canadian in the 1990 Grey Cup, died Thursday of brain cancer. He was 49.
“Warren was so competitive, so driven yet didn't have an ego,” said Don Moen, a former teammate of Hudson's with the Toronto Argonauts. “He was the kind of guy who would run over someone, then go over and help him up.
“He's probably the greatest person I've ever known. Warren and his family never ceased to amaze me, they never once asked ‘Why?“’
Moen routinely overcame injury to appear in a club-record 222 games over 13 seasons with the Argos. But he said it was Hudson who was the epitome of toughness and class, on and off the football field.
Known for dishing out punishing blocks and paving the way for speedy running backs, the Toronto native spent nine seasons in the CFL with the Argos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
He appeared in three Grey Cup games but it was the 1990 contest in Vancouver that Hudson truly stood out, helping Winnipeg earn a lopsided 50-11 championship win over the Edmonton Eskimos at B.C. Place.
Hudson had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown and also ran in for another in being named the game's outstanding Canadian. His first TD came on an 18-yard pass from Tom Burgess before scoring on a two-yard run.
Both of Hudson's touchdowns capped a wild third quarter for the Bombers, who outscored Edmonton 28-0 in the frame to blow open the contest. Winnipeg went into halftime with a 10-4 advantage.
Winnipeg hasn't captured the Grey Cup since, the longest championship drought in the CFL. The Bombers have made five appearances in the big game since 1990, losing them all, including a 34-23 decision to the B.C. Lions in last year's final at B.C. Place.
The six-foot-two, 225-pound Hudson was a running back's best friend. In 1989 with Toronto, Hudson led the way for Gill Fenerty to rush for 1,247 yards.
During Hudson's three-year run as a starter in Toronto, the speedy Fenerty rushed for 3,094 yards.
The following season after being dealt to Winnipeg, Hudson paved the way for Robert Mimbs to run for a league-high 1,341 yards.
They're impressive stats for a player who made the jump to the CFL after playing junior football with the Oshawa Hawkeyes. Originally Hudson played linebacker but was converted to fullback.
Hudson spent three seasons with the Bombers before returning to Toronto to finish his CFL career in 1993. He appeared in 144 career games, rushing for 1,507 yards on 296 carries with 23 touchdowns.
Hudson also registered 204 career catches for 1,951 yards. He was named a West Division all-star in 1990 and ‘92.
After his retirement, Hudson worked as theatrical stagehand, helping design sets used during a run of the musical “Les Miserables” at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
In 2003, Hudson suffered a seizure while driving home from one of his son's hockey games. The family initially thought Hudson had a stroke, but instead he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour called anaplastic astrocytoma.
“I saw Warren (Wednesday night) and he was at peace,” Moen said. “He kept this to himself for years because he didn't want anyone to know about it and worry about him.
“He never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him, never once did he ever say that this wasn't fair. Like I said, he was truly an amazing guy.”
Hudson, who died in an Oakville, Ont., hospital, is survived by his wife, Kelly, and sons Cory and Will.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
Donations can be made at CaringBridge.com, where an in-trust account has been established on behalf of Hudson's children.