Ed Philion is one of the few football players from Essex County to have reached the National Football League. He played as an interior lineman for two seasons with the Buffalo Bills before embarking on an All-Star career with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.
Born in Windsor, Philion starred on the gridiron for the Essex District High School Red Raiders. Upon graduating, he accepted a full-ride scholarship from Ferris State University of the Mid-American Conference.
Philion’s career with the Ferris State Bulldogs was stellar by any measure. First as a linebacker and then as a defensive tackle, he compiled 231 solo tackles, 104 assisted tackles, 65 hurries, 29 sacks, and seven fumble recoveries over his four years in Big Rapids, Michigan. He established team single-season records for both fumble recoveries and sacks, and was a defensive stalwart on the Bulldogs’ 1993 MAC Championship team. Significantly, the title helped land Ferris State a top-10 ranking among NCAA Division II schools. Philion’s memorable senior year, in which he was selected as a team co-captain, saw him earn Kodak All-American, Mid-American All-Star, and Bulldog Team MVP honours.
Philion’s strong collegiate career and Canadian citizenship made him an obvious early-round selection in the 1994 CFL Entry Draft, with Montreal securing his rights. However, Philion also attracted the attention of several NFL teams, and he was ultimately signed by the Buffalo Bills. Philion earned a roster spot and stayed with the team for the 1994 and ’95 NFL seasons. He started six games over that time. Following his time in Buffalo, Philion had a brief stint with the Carolina Panthers and played a single season with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.
Philion returned to Canada in time for the 1999 CFL season, at which time he finally donned an Alouettes jersey. Philion went on to enjoy an eight-season career with Montreal, which was highlighted by a Grey Cup championship in 2002 and three East Division All-Star selections.
Throughout his career in football, Philion’s athleticism, talent, and knowledge perfectly complimented his strong an inner drive. His career stands proudly alongside those of some of Windsor and Essex County’s professional football greats.