You’d have thought he had come home from a moon landing.
Thirty years ago, Rick Mohr was parading down Bay Street in Toronto in a ticker-tape procession, cheered wildly by almost 100,000 well-wishers.
No, the former Aggie defensive stalwart wasn’t an astronaut. He was an Argonaut — and his Canadian Football League brethren had just won the city’s first-ever Grey Cup.
Celebrating a heart-stopping 18-17 final against British Columbia was great fun in 1983. It apparently was fun again earlier this month.
Mohr (UC Davis class of 1980) joined 22 former teammates in Toronto for a reunion and halftime ceremony at a recent Argos game.
“We went to the Grey Cup in 1982, but were beaten by Warren Moon and the Edmonton Eskimos,” Mohr recalls. “So coming back the following year, going 12-4 and winning the Grey Cup made it especially sweet.”
Mohr, a defensive end, was selected to the All-CFL first team while leading the league in sacks. He says neither of those things compared to the feeling of winning the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl.
Or the emotion of reuniting with old friends …
“It was a very special event for me. I hadn’t seen these guys in 30 years,” reports Mohr, who played with Saskatchewan the following two seasons. “Yet when we got together … it was like we’ve been apart for only 30 days.
“The personalities came out and we realized that we continued on right where we left off 30 years ago. These guys were a true Band of Brothers for me. We fought in the trenches together and came out on top with a memorable experience that’s lasted a lifetime.”
Mohr was a 6-foot-2, 250-pound player whose quickness made him a prototype defensive end for chasing opponents around the extra-wide CFL playing surface.
(CFL field dimensions are 110 yards long by 65 yards across, compared to 100 yards and 53 1/3 yards wide in American football.)
Out of UCD, Mohr signed with Green Bay, although Oakland tried to get the Aggie to play for the Raiders.
The Packers released Mohr in 1981 and he wound up with Aggie alum and Vancouver GM John Herrera. Mohr was traded to the Argonauts before the ’82 season began — a move that must have seemed like a sentence to purgatory.
Toronto, a perennial league doormat, was coming off a 2-14 season.
But quarterback Condredge Holloway and innovative coach Bill O’Billovich shocked the league with a run-and-shoot offense while Mohr and his wild bunch created panic with a take-no-prisoners defense.
While it was close-but-no-cigar in 1982, the following year lives in CFL lore.
Wide receiver Terry Greer, who gained more than 2,000 yards in that championship season, went on to be a member of two San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl winners.
Greer and Holloway were among those at the reunion and the halftime festivities at the Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome).
Mohr’s football memories weren’t limited to what the Toronto Sun calls “an all-time, magical season.”
I asked Mohr to think back to his playing days at UC Davis …
“Wow. So many memories: the crowd at Toomey for the Reno game in 1977; sacking Ken O’Brien four times in 1978 (when he was a QB for Sacramento State before transferring to UCD); learning the defensive game from Fred Arp and Bob Foster, two of the greatest coaches — and people — I’ve ever met.”
By the way, one can visit YouTube.com and search “UC Davis Aggies Sack Film.” The highlight reel provided by former D-line wrecking ball Bobby Slater features Mohr, Bo Eason, Loyal Minor, Mike Wise and others from the late ’70s and early ’80s in seek-and-destroy mode.
Mohr continues to make his home in Davis. He is the director of national accounts and consultant relations for HID Global — a secure-identity solutions company that designs and installs corporate and industrial security applications.
While I Have You Here: We’ll may have to change the name of these pages to the Mohr Section.
In a July 9 article, “Siblings Represent U.S.,” we featured Rick’s children Dakotah Sturla and Tanner Mohr as they were on their way to compete as members of the U.S. contingent competing in the Maccabi Games in Israel.
Now comes word that Dakotah’s water polo team captured the gold and Tanner’s rugby squad hit the podium.
Both are Davis High graduates. Dakotah played water polo for UCD while Tanner is embarking on his final year at Cal, where he’s a rugby team mainstay.
Meanwhile, Rick’s wife Rhonda is the Blue Devil girls golf coach, whose team The Enterprise is previewing today.
“(The Argonaut reunion) was really fun,” Rhonda told me. “Rick’s old teammates were awesome people and the wives were fun to be around. It was great getting to be part of that.”
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.