Tony Dennis played in the Canadian Football League for seven years in the 1980s and ’90s and was briefly associated with the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams. He became an award-winning role model in the football community after suffering a stroke at age 41.
Dennis was born on July 24, 1962 in Windsor.
At Centennial High School, Dennis earned All-City honours in both football and basketball. His performances earned him a football scholarship to Simon Fraser University, where he excelled at defensive back as a freshman and sophomore. He led the team in tackles both seasons (1981 and ’82).
As a junior, Dennis switched positions to receiver. In his new role, Dennis led the conference in both receptions and yards while attaining first-team All-Conference and All-District NAIA honours. He was also an honourable mention NAIA All-American.
Dennis’ senior season, 1984, proved to be just as successful. He set eight school receiving records and climbed to fourth place on Simon Fraser’s all-time list for receiving yards. Notably, Dennis played university football alongside former Centennial teammate and future CFL player Chris Spence.
Dennis was drafted in the third round of the 1985 CFL draft by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He went on to play for seven years at the professional level with Saskatchewan, the Calgary Stampeders, and the British Columbia Lions. With the Lions, Dennis teamed up with CFL Hall of Famer Doug Flutie.
In 1985, Dennis signed a contract with the Los Angeles Raiders of the National Football League, but a back injury caused him to fail the associated physical exam.
At the age of 41, Tony Dennis suffered a stroke, which greatly affected the quality of his day-to-day life. In the years since, his demonstrable perseverance and rehabilitation have made him into a role model for all stroke victims. In 2004, Dennis was given the BC Lions’ Orange Helmet award for Community Football Coach of the Year.