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Chuck Ealey

Chuck Ealey led the Hamilton Ti-Cats to Grey Cup victory.
Now he uses his “Undefeated Strategy” on a new playing field...
as regional director of Investors Group in Mississauga


story Maureen Scott   photography Steve Uhraney

Chuck Ealey likes to win. He even has a name for it: The “Undefeated Spirit.”

It's an attitude that’s taken him from Grey Cup winning quarterback to scoring touchdowns in the field of finance. It’s a rags to riches story with a winning outcome on many levels and the subject of an Emmy-award winning documentary called, Undefeated: The Chuck Ealey Story.

“Growing up, I never dreamed about playing pro ball. What I dreamed about was getting my degree. Being poor, the one thing my mother instilled in me was to get an education, because she didn’t have one. We couldn’t afford to pay for school, so getting a scholarship allowed me to go to college.”

Chuck received a football scholarship to the University of Toledo, thanks to his undefeated record at Notre Dame High School in Portsmouth, Ohio. He made his mother proud by earning a degree in Business Economics and at the same time, he set the NCAA Record for 35 straight wins as quarterback (1969 to 1971). The record still holds today. Yet he was passed over by the NFL.

“At the time, no African Americans played quarterback in the NFL,” says Chuck, shaking his head. “They wanted me to come on as defensive back, but I wanted to do what I wanted to do, which was to quarterback.”

So Chuck packed his bags, along with his winning attitude and headed to Canada, to join the Hamilton Tiger Cats as quarterback. It was 1972 - a year Chuck will never forget. Not only did Chuck lead his team to Grey Cup victory, he was named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the Grey Cup.

“I had played in three Tangerine Bowls, so I knew what was expected, but this was another level,” says Chuck. “As quarterback you have to focus on which plays to call and to think about what situations you may find yourself in. You watch the films and practice and don’t really have time to think about the negative. It requires a lot of focus during the season.”

Chuck spent seven years playing in the CFL as quarterback for the Hamilton Ti Cats, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts. He then spent a year as a football analyst for CBC Television.

“As quarterback, I learned all aspects of teamwork,” says Chuck. “You have different personalities and different attitudes, but you all have to work together and use the resources of each other to create balance. And someone has to be the leader.”

Following his pro football career, Chuck used his leadership skills in his role as territory manager for John Deere Limited, before joining Investors Group Financial Services in 1987. Chuck is a Certified Financial Planner and Regional Director of Investors Group in Mississauga. He is responsible for the recruiting, hiring, training and development of new consultants. He’s a two-time Master Manager Award Winner. 

Chuck gives financial advice every weekday at noon on Wave 94.7 Radio and is often seen on CP24 Television.  

“Every day I hear someone say, 'I don’t have any money to invest.' I ask them, 'do you have a job?' If so, you have money to invest. My best advice is to pay yourself first. Put 5 to 10 percent aside for you. The rest of the things – paying the mortgage, the bills, will get done. Most people have a wish to retire early, so I ask them, 'what are you going to do about it?' Together we work out a plan. There’s a saying, Nobody plans to fail. People just fail to plan."

Chuck is often asked to be a keynote speaker at corporate and community events in the GTA. He was Vice-Chair for the Mayor’s Task Force on Sport and is the current Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of The Living Arts Centre. Chuck recently helped develop a mentorship program for the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board.

“Now I’m the coach,” laughs Chuck. “We call the approach “The Undefeated Spirit.” It’s about helping people believe in themselves. It’s the same in football. You practice, and then you believe that you can do anything. It’s what I call the inward, outward, upward approach. Inward is about oneself and what you need to do to develop as a person. Outward is about your relationships with others and what you can contribute to the team, and upward is about your belief in God or others. It’s the avenue of truth. At the end of the day, it’s all about trust.”

Chuck also shares his message of hope at prisons and juvenile detention homes.

“What can a pro athlete tell people in a prison or detention home that they can relate to? I say to them, 'Hey, you’re in here, that’s a choice that happened and now you need to find something you are good at, and can learn now, that will help you when you get out. If you like to paint, get yourself hired as a painter. It’s going to be hard work - and not just physically. You may knock on one door and someone will say no, and another, and they say no, but you keep going until someone says yes.' "      

At 61, Chuck has maintained the strong, powerful build of a pro athlete, thanks to his daily trips to the gym and playing golf three or four times a week. “Now I love to play golf. That’s my sport,” says Chuck, as we watch a golf cart drive by his backyard, which backs onto Lionhead Golf Course. Chuck even has his own charity golf tournament. “We recently raised an estimated $40,000 for Kid’s Cancer, in memory of the 12-year-old daughter of a colleague of mine at Investors Group who died of cancer.” 

Chuck and his wife Sherri have been married 38 years and have three grown children (two daughters and a son) and six grandsons.

Sherri says about Chuck, it was love at first sight. “I used to babysit for the doctor of the Toledo University team and I picked Chuck’s photo out of a book and asked for us to be introduced.” The rest is history - a record-setting history at that.  GL

Chuck's Favourites:

Sport: Golf

Ideal Foursome: Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Sherri Ealey and me

Book: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Football Team: I don’t have a favourite team in the NFL or CFL, but I really enjoy watching the games

Vacation Spot: St. Martin – we have a time share there