Willie Burden

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Willie Burden
No. 10
Date of birth (1951-07-21)July 21, 1951
Place of birth Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of death December 4, 2015(2015-12-04) (aged 64)
Place of death Atlanta, Georgia
Career information
CFL status International
Position(s) RB
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg)
College North Carolina State
High school William G. Enloe
NFL draft 1974 / Round: 6 / Pick: 139
Drafted by Detroit Lions
Career history
As player
19741981 Calgary Stampeders
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star 1975
CFL West All-Star 1975, 1977
Awards 1975 CFL MOP
Career stats

Willie Burden (July 21, 1951 – December 4, 2015) was a professional Canadian football player with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, who subsequently became an academic and sports administrator.

Burden, a running back, was made a member of the Calgary Stampeder's Wall of Fame in 1992, and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2006, Burden was voted to the Honour Roll of the CFL's top 50 players of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.[1]

College career[edit]

Following an outstanding high school football career at Raleigh's William G. Enloe High School, Burden attended North Carolina State University, where he played from 1971 to 1973 on scholarship. He rushed for 2,529 yards, 7th best in Wolfpack history. He was the 1973 Atlantic Coast Conference Football Player of the Year. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Economics.

Following graduation, Burden was drafted twice in 1974, by the NFL's Detroit Lions in the 6th round (139th overall) and by the World Football League's Portland Storm, in the 17th round (198 overall.) Canada was eventually his professional football destination.

Professional football career[edit]

The Calgary Stampeders would be Burden's home for eight seasons, between 1974 and 1981. He thrilled fans in his first season, rushing for 541 yards on 94 carries, but it was in his second season that he broke team and league records. He set a new CFL single season rushing record, running 332 times for 1896 yards. He also set a CFL record with 2,127 yards from scrimmage and led the league with 2,387 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns. His best day was November 2 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, when he tied Lovell Coleman's team record of 238 yards in a game. Burden was rewarded with the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award and All Canadian All Star honours in 1975. His 1975 record of 'most rushing yards in the first 5 games of a season' was beaten by Kory Sheets in 2013.[2] Burden was also named an All West All Star in 1977.

Upon his retirement, Burden had rushed for 6,234 yards, fifth best in Stampeders history after Kelvin Anderson, Earl Lunsford, Lovell Coleman and Joffrey Reynolds.

He received many honours. His jersey number #10 was retired by the Stamps in 1982. He was added to their Wall of Fame in 1992, and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2001. He played at 5 foot 10 inches and a bruising 218 pounds and is remembered fondly in Canada.

Post-football career[edit]

Burden's post pro football life was equally successful. He received his master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University while working as an assistant football coach and instructor in the Department of Physical Education and Recreation. From 1984 to 1988 he served as Assistant Athletics Director at Tennessee Technological University while working on his doctorate in education at Tennessee State University (Ed.D) which he received in 1990. In 1988, Burden returned to Ohio University to serve as Assistant Athletic Director. In 1990, he became the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Instructor of Health and Physical Education for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Later he was an Associate Professor in Sports Management at Georgia Southern University. His research has been published in several academic journals. In 2005 Burden received another special honour, being inducted into Hall of Fame for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America of Raleigh, North Carolina, for his lifetime of good works.

On September 2, 2015, it was reported in the Calgary Herald that Burden had been hospitalized in Atlanta for 209 days with a heart condition, awaiting a transplant.[3] He died in Atlanta on December 4, 2015 at the age of 64.[4] Burden resided in Statesboro, Georgia, with his wife, Velma, and children Willie Jr. and Freddie. He also has a daughter, Courtney Bledsoe who resides in North Carolina.