Calgary

Burke Dales, former Calgary Stampeders player, dead at 46

Burke Dales, former Calgary Stampeders football player and Grey Cup champion, has passed away at the age of 46.

'When you were standing next to Burke, you felt as big as he was,' says former colleague and friend

a man in a football uniform looks focused
Burke Dales, former Calgary Stampeders football player and member of the 2008 Grey Cup championship team, has passed away at the age of 46. (Courtesy of the Calgary Stampeders)

Burke Dales, a former Calgary Stampeders football player, has passed away at the age of 46.

Dales, originally from Collingwood, Ont., played for the Stampeders for seven seasons from 2005 to 2011, and was part of Calgary's Grey Cup championship team in 2008.

A Canadian Football League (CFL) all-star punter with a career 45.6-yard average, Dales made Calgary his home following his CFL retirement.

Friends of Dales say he will be remembered for more than his impressive kicking style and football achievements. 

Gone too soon

"You always felt like you should be carrying that great cup with them, that you deserve the ring right beside him and it didn't matter who you were or what you did," said a friend of Dales, Greg Wing. 

Wing recalls meeting Dales over a decade ago while working at a car dealership together. 

Famously standing six feet three inches tall, the football player was known for his impressive stature — Wing says while shaking Dales's hand, you couldn't help but notice how big it was.

the back of a football player
Burke Dales's was an all-star punter with a career 45.6-yard average. (Courtesy of the Calgary Stampeders)

"He was a big guy with a big heart, a big laugh and a big personality, but he never made you feel small. You know, I know some big guys that'll make you feel small, but when you were standing next to Burke, you felt as big as he was," he said.

"He treated you like you were the only person in the room, that you were the most important person at the time, and you always felt like a million bucks when you were with Burke."

'Fiercely loyal' friend and teammate 

Ryan Ballantine, a football writer with the 3DownNation website and host of the Go Stamps Go podcast, is also among those who are mourning the loss of Dales.

"When he was playing here in Calgary, he was routinely an all-star, and deservedly so because of how well he played the game," Ballantine said.

When the football writer began covering the Stampeders, Dales was the first player who agreed to be interviewed on Ballantine's show.

"He came down, we had no reputation to go on, we were totally a fly-by-night operation, and he really helped legitimize our podcast … which really meant something to us at that time," Ballantine told CBC News in an interview.

"The reason I'm within CFL media today is, you know, a large part because of Burke Dales showing up and doing that first interview with us, and going back and telling the team that we were worth paying attention to and [it was] worth allowing us to come and cover the team."

Ballantine says Dales can be remembered for not only his football career and commitment to the game, but also for the people in his life.

"I think the biggest thing that you're hearing from everybody that's talking about Burke and sharing stories over the last day is just how fiercely loyal he was as a teammate, as a friend, and as a person," he said.

"Burke had your back, no matter what."

Dales joined the Stampeders after attending Concordia University. He also played for Edmonton and Montreal before retiring from football in 2013.

"Burke excelled during his career with the Stampeders and he brought an uncommon level of competitiveness to his position," reads an online statement from Stampeders team president, John Hufnagel. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lily Dupuis

Reporter

Lily Dupuis joined CBC News as a researcher for the 2023 Alberta provincial election. She can be reached at lily.dupuis@cbc.ca.

With a file from Terri Trembath

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