This week’s Sault Legend is a long-time football ref and former Sault Steeler, Steve Edwards.
Edwards played for the Steelers from 1975-79 and was on the 1975 and 1976 conference winning teams.
He made the All-Star team in ’76 and ’79 and was inducted into the NFC Hall of Fame in 2008.
“It was nice to be honoured like that,” said Edwards. He played corner linebacker and at times tailback as “it was common for the Steelers to be short on players in those years, so you play what you can.”
1979 was a momentous year for Edwards as he won the league title for interceptions and tied the league record with 8.
That was also the year that he would make the transition from playing to refereeing.
“I still keep in touch with them. It was a good time being part of the Steelers… a lot of fan turnout… it was just fun being part of the team.”
In his first season Edwards learned from the pros, like Barry Magill and Doug Cozac.
“Barry did a lot of mentoring with the defensive back. Barry was an excellent mentor/player coach. He was good! Doug Cozac helped [too] with the new guys.”
And of coach Monico, “Len was very supportive of a lot of his players. He’s a good guy to know and I still see him at the grocery store,” Edwards laughs.
So after the Steelers defeat in ’79, Edwards started to referee that fall.
“It didn’t take that long to keep involved in the game and it was natural to officiate.” His dad being Don Edwards, another local legend who refereed basketball,softball and fastball for years.
“Back then too it was only high school and the Steelers,” Steve said. As now we have junior football and the Sault Sabercats.
As far as the transition: “I didn’t find it that hard. You really have to take a different point of view. You think you know the rules when you play football but you don’t know them all.”
Edwards takes exams every year for officiating.
“There are a lot of new rules now. They play football for fun and you really have to make sure a lot of the players behind the play don’t get hurt.”
This will be his 37th year as an official. Can you believe it? What dedication!
“The Sault is a great football town.”
Edwards even got to wear the white hat down at the Skydome for the central bowl. But he has officiated all over the province including Waterloo, Toronto, Sudbury, London, Oakville and Brantford.
He has been a referee for Ontario Varsity Football Championships, NFC Championship games, Canadian Championship games and so on.
He has even been a referee alongside referees from the CFL.