Razorbacks

The Big Chill

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Known as “The Big Chill” even in a climate as cold as Canada’s, former Arkansas All-Southwest Conference  Razorbacks Hall of Honor great and Helena native Freddie Childress now is Canadian known as a Hall of Famer.

The 1994-2006 Canadian Football League star offensive lineman was elected Thursday to CFL’s Hall of Fame. 

Because of COVID-19 postponing the originally scheduled Aug. 24 CFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Hamilton, Ontario, the 2020 CFL Hall of Fame class won’t formally  be inducted until 2021.

Calling from Canada, Freddie said he can easily wait the year.

“I’ve been retired  14 years  and finally I get the call,” Childress boomed as the big man with the big voice did so unmistakably as a Hog.

Twice first-team All-SWC offensive guard as the 340-pound bulldozer for Ken Hatfield’s Razorbacks offensive lines on 

 10-2, 9-3, 9-4 and 10-2 teams from 1985-88 and NFL drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals,  Childress after NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and Cleveland and a 1993 year out of football, first found his CFL niche in the United States.

The CFL had U.S. teams based  in the South when Childress played for Shreveport and Birmingham in 1994 and ’95.

The league prospered going All-Canada. Childress helped it prosper by prospering from 1996-2003 with the Calgary Stampede and final 2004-2006 seasons with the Saskatchewan 

Roughriders.

“I played 13 years, was an  all-star six times, two Grey Cups (CFL team championships with Calgary) and  one Offensive Lineman of the Year,” Childress said.  “Turned out to be a pretty nice career.”

A more than pretty nice career after not finding his niche in the NFL though he became one of the rare  NFL offensive linemen tallying a touchdown.

“Somebody brought it up to me and asked, ‘Do you remember what happened?” Childress said. “It was 1992 and New England was playing against the Minnesota Vikings. Somebody got hit and  fumbled and in the scramble I fell on it in the end zone.”

A fluke touchdown as a NFL highlight but nothing fluky about his CFL career. 

“When the NFL didn’t work out I came to the CFL and everything just clicked together,” Childress said.  “I just came at the right time and got hooked up with a good team with good players around me and prolonged my career for a long time.”

What he rediscovered in Canada he certainly had at Arkansas.

Actually most known as a nationally honored and recruited defensive lineman at Helena, Childress moved to offense immediately threw his weight around as the huge but surprisingly  bulwark on Hatfield’s otherwise lighter, quick wishbone  lines.

One of Childress’ Razorbacks teammates, offensive lineman Chris Bequette still marvels about the icy game on Astro-Turf when a Childress clobber skidded a linebacker on his back like a human sled.

Childress became the second Razorback elected to the CFL Hall of Fame calling Calgary home.

The late Wayne “Thumper” Harris, the early Frank Broyles era defensive great from Hampton via El Dorado High, was not only a CFL Hall of Famer but honored with a Canadian postage stamp.

“Wayne “Thumper” Harris, he came in with Calgary and now I’m up here in Calgary,” Childress said.   “I think we are the only two from Arkansas.  Before his health went downhill I used to see him all the time at the grocery store.  They said he was a hell of a player back in his day.”

Childress was last in Fayetteville for his 2014 Razorbacks Hall of Honor induction. He said it’s been five years  since he was last in Helena.

“I went back there when my mother died and I went back there when my sister died,” Childress said. “I got one brother (Alfred Kines) left down there.  I talk to  him on the phone and have  some cousins there and some of the guys I went to high school with are still there.  I got another brother in St. Louis and one in Minneapolis.”

He would like to see old friends and relatives but says COVID-19 86’s that for now.

“It’s still bad here but nowhere near what it is down there in the States,” Childress said.

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