Andy Fantuz is a true football superstar.
He turned heads with his talent the moment he arrived on the Western campus and he lived up to incredible expectations throughout his 12-year Canadian Football League career, which he officially wrapped up Thursday.
“He’s one of those rare breeds, one of the truly great ones,” said Larry Haylor, his former Mustangs coach. “Few players have been loved and admired as Andy has across the CFL and the old CIS (now U Sports). Wherever we went when Andy was playing (from 2002-05), opposing coaches and players would be in admiration of him. He had no pretense about him. He was just a superb player.”
The 34-year-old Chatham native remains the greatest receiver in Canadian university history. He was the CIS rookie of the year in ’02 and finished his time in London as the Hec Crighton Trophy winner as the top player in the country in ’05.
“I think the word legendary is over-used and I hate when people ask where players fit on the impact scale,” Haylor said, “but David Sapunjis, Tyrone Williams and Andy Fantuz are the three eminent names at Western for catching the football. The school has been truly blessed. If you look at the hard, cold numbers, I don’t think anyone could fail to be impressed by Andy’s career, but if you look beyond them and see the humility and class with which he conducted himself, it’s been absolutely remarkable.”
Fantuz became a legendary figure in Saskatchewan by propelling the Roughriders to a long-awaited Grey Cup title in 2007. He was named the most valuable Canadian player in the final and a few years later, had a cereal “Fantuz Flakes” named after him.
“I remember when he got drafted, I told him he would love it there,” Haylor said, “but the more important thing is Regina will love you. You’re hard-working, loyal and a great player. The people in Regina value those things and that is evident in what they’re saying about him today.”
Fantuz finished his career closer to home in Hamilton with the Tiger-Cats. He battled injury throughout his Steel City tenure but remained with the team, first in an administrative role last year before opting to return to the field.
“Andy has a 100-million dollar smile,” Haylor said. “He’s a charming, personable individual and his achievements haven’t changed the core person. Those qualities that served him well on the football field will serve him equally well in this life (off it).”