Orlondo Steinauer, a consensus All-America football player at Western Washington University (WWU) in the mid-1990s and a member of the Vikings’ Athletic Hall of Fame, has been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (CFHOF) Class of 2021. The announcement was made Wednesday, April 13, by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum.
Steinauer, a defensive back during his playing days, is among five legendary players being inducted along with an iconic head coach and an instrumental leader. The formal induction is scheduled for Grey Cup Week this November in Hamilton, Ontario, bringing the Hall of Fame membership to 316.
Besides Steinauer, the four other players to be inducted in the Player category are defensive linemen Will Johnson and Mike Walker, wide receiver Nik Lewis, and defensive back Don Wilson. In the Builder category, former Montreal Alouettes head coach Marv Levy (went on to lead the NFL Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances) and the sixth Canadian Football League (CFL) Commissioner Doug Mitchell are to be honored.
“The Canadian Football Hall of Fame is proud to honor these individuals who have contributed so much to our game, on the field, on the sidelines and in the boardroom,” said Greg Dick, Interim CFHOF Executive Director.
A born leader, Steinauer was a two-time Grey Cup champion as a player (1999 and 2004).
A dominant defensive back known as much for his smarts as his athleticism, Steinauer played for 13 seasons in the CFL, with the Ottawa Rough Riders (1996), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1997-2000) and Toronto Argonauts (2001-2008). He was named an all-star at three different positions (cornerback, halfback and safety), earning seven East All-Star awards and five CFL All-Star honors.
Steinauer’s professional career featured 49 interceptions, including five returned for touchdowns. His 1,178 interception return yards are the second most in CFL history.
Steinauer, who was born in Seattle and graduated from Lynnwood Washington High School, was an all-star defensive back and kick returner at Western. In 1995, his senior season with the Vikings, Steinauer was a consensus All-American (first-team National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, first-team American Football Coaches Association college division, and second-team Associated Press Little All-America) and was named the school’s top male athlete for 1995-96 as he made a school-record and national leading 10 pass interceptions to finish with a career total of 20.
“Such fantastic news to hear about this incredible and deserving honor for Orlondo,” said Rob Smith, Steinauer’s head coach at Western. “So happy for him and proud of him.”
“As a player Orlondo was a coach’s dream and the consummate team player. I still remember him injuring his knee his junior year on a punt return down at Willamette (University – Salem, Oregon). There were tears after and a concern that his career might be over. Little did we know. All-American and led the nation in interceptions as a senior for us, then a Hall of Fame career in the CFL. Doesn’t get much better than that. So exciting!”
The 48-year-old Steinauer is currently the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 2019, his first year as head coach, he was named the CFL’s Coach of the Year, leading Hamilton to the Grey Cup game to decide the CFL championship and a 16-4 record.
Steinauer is the first WWU athlete to be a head coach in any major professional sport. Following a year as a broadcaster, he was a CFL assistant for eight seasons, being on a Grey Cup championship team as defensive backs coach in 2012. In 2017, Steinauer was the defensive coordinator at NCAA Division I Fresno State, helping the Bulldogs perform one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in college football history (1-11 to 10-4).
Steinauer’s wife, former WWU women’s basketball player Gina Sampson, was the school’s top female athlete for 1995-96. She also is a member of the WWU Athletics Hall of Fame. They have three daughters.