In four playoff games at the end of the 1967 season Reed established a rushing record of 529 yards, including 204, another playoff mark, in the victorious Western Conference final. His one-day best of 268 yards won Saskatchewan a playoff berth in 1965, and in the Rough-riders' 1966 Grey Cup win he contributed 133 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown run that iced the victory.
Earl Lunsford, one of three backs to run over a mile in a single season (the other two are Reed and Brown) and now the general manager of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, attributes Reed's success to the tremendous development of his upper legs. "They give him a combination of quickness and power," says Lunsford. "Some fullbacks just hit the hole and run over people for a yard or two. George can be a power runner when he needs to be, but he can use his quickness to step outside and slide. He has great reading ability and a good lean—very low to the ground with high knee action. He gets those legs into you good. If you hit him there he has the power to run through you." Around the CFL they tell the stories of Jack Delveaux and Brian Palmer. Delveaux put a shoulder into Reed. The shoulder was smashed and the nerves so badly injured that to this day he doesn't have full use of his right arm. Palmer tried an arm tackle. The arm snapped in three places.
In Regina, Reed's reward has been acceptance and what one local defines as being "a medium-sized frog in a relatively small puddle." But it is not blind acceptance. Reed may have been named honorary head coach and coordinator of the special summer Olympics for the mentally handicapped because of his association with sports, but that's not what got him elected president of the PTA. He is no less respected on the playing field than he is in the community. Last year he became the first American and first black to be elected president of the CFL Players Association.
Reed moved his wife Angie and three children from Seattle to Regina after the 1965 season, in which he gained his mile plus of rushing and won the Schenley Award, the Canadian equivalent of MVP. Canadian football players can hold down jobs year round, since they practice in the late afternoon and early evening. Reed went to work for Molson's brewery and has risen to the post of sales promotion manager. "That job has been his first wife," says Angie. "He works so hard and so late that sometimes I think he's going to forget my name. George has a bad habit: he can't say no to anybody." The Reeds still live in the modest one-story house they bought when they arrived in Regina. "George is pretty close to the dollar," says a business associate. Whether that assessment is accurate or not, it is a fact that George Reed collects coins.
For that matter it is money that kept him from ever trying his legs in the NFL, where his brother Smith played for the Giants, and where four relatives—foster brother Clancy Williams, brother-in-law Jerry LeVias and first cousins-by-marriage Miller and Mel Farr—currently excel. How would George Reed have done? He has pondered that. A few years back he almost pondered his way down to the States, but then he added up the dollars and cents. "I had no reason to go back but pride," he says, "and pride will just make you go hungry."
Joe Kapp, who led teams in both leagues to championships, thinks Reed would have been a standout in the NFL. Bud Grant, the coach of the Minnesota Vikings and a former Canadian coach, agrees. " George Reed would have been a superstar here just as he is in Canada," says Grant.
As Reed approaches Brown's rushing record comparisons become inevitable. George is well aware that he will come out second best in the eyes of most, which doesn't bother him. "After all," he says, "there was only one Jim Brown."