Trailblazing QB Bernie Custis Honoured on Tiger Cats Wall of Honour

First Black quarterback Bernie Custis to be honoured in Hamilton this Fall

Bernie Custis

Bernie Custis, the trailblazing quarterback who broke barriers as pro football’s first Black quarterback, has passed away at the age of 88. In 1953, Custis, now a Hall of Famer, played a pivotal role in leading the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to victory in the Grey Cup game.

This season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will pay tribute to Custis and fellow Canadian Football Hall of Famer Mike Walker by adding them to the team’s Wall of Honour. The ceremony will take place on October 4th during halftime of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ home game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Walker, who played for Hamilton from 1982 to 1989, appeared in 108 games and contributed significantly to the team’s 1986 Grey Cup win. His impressive performance included the third-most sacks in franchise history (82), earning him a well-deserved induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2021.

Bernie Custis

Custis, however, left an indelible mark as a pioneer in the sport. As the first black quarterback in professional football history, he made history with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951. Over four seasons with the Ticats, Custis played in 50 games and earned all-star nods at both quarterback (1951) and running back (1954). His legacy paved the way for future black quarterbacks like Warren Moon and Chuck Ealey to excel in Canada.

Beyond his contributions on the field, Custis made significant impacts off the field as well. He dedicated over 30 years to coaching amateur football at Sheridan College, McMaster University, and the Burlington Braves junior squad, clinching numerous championships along the way.

Mike Walker

Custis’s accolades extend to his induction into the McMaster University Hall of Fame and the Syracuse University Athletic Hall of Fame, showcasing his enduring legacy in the world of football.

Upon his passing in 2017, then CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge hailed Custis as not only a trailblazer but also one of the best in the sport. A versatile athlete and a respected leader, Custis exemplified excellence both on and off the field, leaving an indelible mark on the game and serving as a role model for generations to come.