CK Assistant McKinnis Has Grey Cup History

I got call earlier this week from a Calgary, Alberta, radio station, which was trying to locate Hugh McKinnis.

“No problem,” I said. “He’s out on the practice field with the Central Kitsap football team.”

McKinnis’ smile could probably light up Silverdale Stadium Saturday night if the lights go out. He’s an assistant coach for the Cougars, who take on Rogers of Puyallup in a Class 4A state quarterfinal football game.

I wrote a story about McKinnis in 2006 prior to the Seahawks-Steelers Super Bowl game. Here’s the condensed version:

McKinnis played in two Grey Cups with the Calgary Stampeders, losing 23-10 to the Montreal Aloutettes in his rookie season in 1970. The hard-running fullback, who grew up outside of Pittsburgh and played three years at Arizona State for Frank Kush, led the Canadian Football League in rushing with 1,135 yards that year.

Calgary and Montreal will meet again in Sunday’s Grey Cup, which is why the radio station was hunting for McKinnis. In 1971, the Stamps  beat Joe Theismann and the Toronto Argonauts 14-11 for the title.

McKinnis still wears his CFL championship ring.

“It’s stuck,” he told me. “I can’t get it off.”

McKinnis played three years in Canada, earning first-team all-CFL honors and rushing for 3,292 yards and 22 touchdown. He jumped to the NFL after Cleveland selected him in the eighth round of the 1973 draft.

McKinnis lasted three years with the Browns, gaining 514 yards in 1974 while sharing duties with Greg Pruitt as Cleveland’s featured back. McKinnis dislocated his elbow in ’75, and was left unprotected in the ’76 expansion draft.

The Seahawks swooped in and grabbed the back who patterned his running style after his idol, Jim Brown, and Franco Harris.

He started the first game in Seahawks history, sharing a huddle with Jim Zorn and Steve Largent among others, but a knee injury suffered in that game left him as the short-yardage guy. A serious hamstring injury limited him during his second season, and he was released. He returned to Canada, playing briefly for the B.C. Lions, but returned to Seattle to work for Boeing.
When Boeing started laying people off, McKinnis accepted a job with a Bremerton beer distributor. The job turned out to be a 23-year career with the Jennings Corporation.

And now he’s trying to win another championship, this one with Central Kitsap.


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