Edward John Vereb
Born: May 21, 1934 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Died: December 18, 2014 (Bowie, Maryland)
The B.C. Lions snagged NFL first-round draft pick Ed Vereb from the Washington Redskins. The running back scored 14 touchdowns in his rookie season and was named an 1956 All-Star in the Western Interprovincial Football Union.
In his senior year, Vereb scored 16 touchdowns and threw two touchdown passes on halfback options. He averaged nearly six yards per carry. On the other side of the ball, he had four interceptions. Vereb was a co-captain of the Terps in his final season, as the team went 10-0 before losing 20-6 to No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
The Washington Redskins claimed the All-American Vereb with their first pick (No. 12 overall) in the 1956 NFL draft. Instead, he came north to play in Canada.
Vereb was a sensation with the Lions. In just his second game, Vereb scored two touchdowns as the Lions defeated the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders by 20-9. In the third quarter, Vereb took a leteral from quarterback Tony Teresa on the ’Riders’ 53-yard line, shook off a tackle by the end, then dispatched a guard who tried to latch on near the 10-yard line. “Vereb slithered, rolled and crawled the last stretch to go over the goal-line on his belly,” the Canadian Press reported.
Earlier in the game, Vereb, playing defence, tackled ’Riders halfback Jim Waddell into his own goalpost, which caused the ball to come loose. Vereb pounced on it.
“I’ve heard stories about what a devastating force a mad rhinoceros can be,” said Annis Stukus, the Lions’ former coach. “After seeing Vereb run, slam, deke, stumble, tumble, crawl, sprawl, and somehow get up for the last five yards to complete a 53-yard touchdown run, I can visualize what they’re talking about.”
Vereb’s play helped the Lions to a 2-0 record to open the campaign, but they finished at 6-10.
The running back missed the 1957 season as he was inducted into the U.S. Army. On his discharge, te returned to play two seasons with the Leos before signing with the Redskins for the 1960 season. He played in nine NFL games, recording 38 yards on 19 carries with another 119 yards on nine passes.
In 1961, Vereb rejoined the Lions, a sad team that would finish the season 1-13-2. Wayne Robinson was fired as head coach after 10 games to be replaced by backfield coach Dave Skrien. Vereb simultaneously retired as a player to replace Skrien as an assistant coach.
He then returned to the Washington area where he worked for the U.S. Postal Service while completing his university studies. He graduated from Georgetown University and began a dental practice in 1966.