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‘Those memories will be with me forever’: Regina’s Neal Hughes inducted into Roughriders Plaza of Honour

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Roughriders greats Neal Hughes and Kerry Joseph have been named to the 2019 SaskTel Plaza of Honour.

QB Kerry Joseph also headed for the plaza

Cory Coleman · CBC News ·

Neal Hughes retired from professional football in 2015. (Peter Mills/CBC)

Neal Hughes says he still can’t believe he’s being inducted into the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Plaza of Honour.

The plaza induction event, which is being held on Thursday night at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, honours people who have made significant contributions to the Saskatchewan Roughriders both on and off the field.

Hughes, a fullback and special-teamer who played 140 games and earned two Grey Cup rings with the Riders, is one of two inductees this year, along with quarterback Kerry Joseph.

Hughes said his passion for football started in his hometown — Regina.

“It was just playing football with my buddies and hearing about the Riders and watching them on TV,” he told CBC Radio’s The Afternoon Edition.

He said he fell in love with the sport while going to games with his dad.

That passion led him to the University of Regina Rams, where he played as an all-purpose running back from 1999 until 2003 and earned multiple awards.

He still holds the university’s record for rushing yards, touchdown runs and all-purpose yards, leading him to be inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame in 2014.

“I was always willing to do whatever the coaches asked of me to help the team and that’s something that I pride myself on,” he said.

Joining the green and white

Hughes signed with the Riders in 2004 and wound up playing 11 seasons.

He played in four Grey Cup games, including the legendary 2013 championship game when the green and white reached Grey Cup glory in Regina.

“It was pretty special and something that I never could have even dreamed of doing in front of the hometown crowd,” he said.

“Those memories will be with me forever and always light a little spark in my heart.”

Hughes announced his retirement from professional football in 2015. He totalled 70 carries for 277 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, along with 46 catches for 505 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also has the third most special teams tackles with the Riders.

Diversity is Strength campaign

Hughes was the Riders’ ambassador for the CFL’s 2018 Diversity is Strength campaign.

The team ended up going on a winning streak that year after former head coach and general manager Chris Jones — who is known for his all black attire on game day — wore a green T-shirt with Hughes’s name and number on the back.

“I will take zero credit for that,” Hughes said with a laugh.

“But it was just super cool to see the family name on the back of the shirt… I know my family was really proud of that.”

Hughes said diversity is still something that’s important to him.

“Being a Métis kid and having a lot of First Nations friends that I hung out with, its special to be a part of hopefully making some change and helping some people see things in a positive way.”

Kerry Joseph joins ‘good friend’ in plaza

Quarterback Kerry Joseph spent three seasons with the Riders and won the Grey Cup in 2007 when the Riders defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was also named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player that year.

“It was a very exciting moment,” he said of finding out he was being inducted into the plaza.

“I know how special this is and it was just a special moment to have that opportunity and to be selected… and to go in with a good friend and former teammate in Neal Hughes.”

Joseph also played with the Ottawa Renegades, Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos.

About the Author

Cory Coleman is a reporter, web writer and associate producer for CBC Saskatchewan. Have a story idea? Email cory.coleman@cbc.ca

    With files from The Afternoon Edition, Fiona Odlum

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