Foggie brings CFL to Pike

Ryan Schuster

The warm June sun beat down on the Augsburg College football field, where a makeshift end zone has been created at the 50-yard line for the Minnesota Fighting Pike’s practice.
Former Gophers Rickey Foggie, Tony Levine and Mike Sunvold arrived early and began stretching on the field before starting offensive drills.
It was a far cry from the roaring crowds at the Metrodome and the glory of playing Big Ten football.
After playing professionally for eight years in Canada, Foggie is accustomed to the everyday routine of running offensive drills at practice. The 29-year-old quarterback understands the game better than most members of his current team.
“He knows the plays as well, if not better than the coaches,” Levine said. “He is one of the few bright spots on the team.”
Foggie, a former standout quarterback for the Gophers from 1984-87, has returned to the Twin Cities to extend his professional football career. He plays for the Pike, which are 1-8 as an expansion team in the Arena Football League.
“I figured that I’d play ball for awhile, but I didn’t think I’d still be playing this long,” Foggie said.
The native of Waterloo, S.C., had a storied career at Minnesota, starting all four years with the Gophers and earning All-Big Ten honorable mentions his sophomore and junior years.
He holds the school record for most total offensive yards in a career, with 4,903 yards passing and 2,038 yards rushing, for 6,941 total yards.
Foggie also tied Mike Hohensee for the most career touchdown passes in Gophers history with 33, eight more than Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy.
Even though Foggie is ranked in the top five of six different offensive categories at Minnesota, he holds no single-game records, a testament to his consistency.
Perhaps his most impressive accomplishments at Minnesota were the two post-season bowl games to which he led the team during his sophomore and junior years. Foggie helped the Gophers to a 20-13 victory over Clemson in the 1985 Independence Bowl and led Minnesota to the 1986 Liberty Bowl, which the team lost 21-14 to Tennessee.
After his college career, Foggie signed as a free agent with the Canadian Football League before his name could be called in the 1988 NFL draft.
“Playing in the NFL was never really an aspiration of mine,” Foggie said.
Foggie spent the next eight years playing football in Canada with the British Columbia Lions, Toronto Argonauts, Edmonton Eskimos and the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL.
He managed to put up some impressive numbers north of the border as well, posting 12,429 passing yards, gaining 2,367 yards on the ground and scoring 89 touchdowns in his eight seasons in the league.
In 1991, Foggie led the Toronto Argonauts to a league championship.
“I think he has learned a lot from playing in the CFL, which has helped him tremendously,” said Pike head coach Ray Jauch.
Foggie had to use all of that knowledge to help him adjust to the different rules and dimensions of the Arena Football League.
Some of the game’s odd rules include having only eight players on the field, six of which play both offense and defense. The playing field is surrounded with cushioned sideboards and nets flank the goalposts, keeping missed field goals or errant passes in play.
The AFL game is clearly geared toward offense with a short field and no punting, as the Pike’s 61-49 loss June 28 to Milwaukee at the Target Center attests. In the league’s first 10 years, scores have averaged 98 points per game.
“The Arena League has a faster pace,” Foggie said. “Our games are exciting with a lot of passing and a lot of points. Arena football is also harder physically than college or the CFL because of the field dimensions. You don’t have enough room to run around.”
A CFL football field is 120 yards long and 63 yards wide. By comparison, an AFL field is just 50 yards long and approximately 28 yards wide.
“(Foggie) hasn’t been able to utilize his running ability like he did in Canada,” Levine said. “It took him an adjustment period coming from the CFL with 120 yard fields.”
It appears Foggie has become accustomed to the subtle nuances of arena ball. He has started all nine games for the Fighting Pike, throwing for 20 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions in his rookie year in the league.
Off the field, Foggie has kept busy raising his four children with his wife, Andrea, at their North Carolina home. He has also been active in the DARE program, which teaches kids to say no to drugs.
“I don’t have any regrets because I’m still able to get a paycheck for doing what I enjoy,” Foggie said. “I always wanted to do this.”