Jabari Arthur recognized at Akron University

By Ruthven V. Licorish

What defines greatness is when you hold all the records and what you mean to your fans, the guy who holds the most records or the guy who you recognize as the leader of the pack. Those factors are what help to place you in the ranks as the greatest receiver of all time.
You have to give it to Jabari Arthur, who was inducted into the Akron University Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 6.
Beginning as a 7-year-old, Jabari made his first foray into football as a member of the Pewee AmaBaie Falcons in 1990. That same year, he also won a trophy as Rookie Of The Year. By 1998, he had played for the Sunnybrooke Chiefs, the North Shore Lions, and the North Shore Mustangs.
Through all of these gradations he had been adjudged as MVP of those teams.
It is evident that Jabari’s participation at the junior levels had given him the maturity and confidence to perform at the college level, and in 2000 he enrolled at Vanier College. There, Jabari emerged as the team’s starting quarterback. Unfortunately, during his tenure at Vanier (2000-2003), the team did not win any league championships, but in 2001 he was awarded plaques as league MVP as well as offensive MVP of the league.
It is not surprising therefore that in 2003 Jabari was recruited by the Akron Zips. This was the opportunity he had been working towards since his youth football days with the North Shore Mustangs.
However, the quarterback dream did not last long; following a coaching change after the 2004 season, Jabari moved to a receiver position, and the rest is ‘pass catching’ history for the Zips.
During his time in blue and gold, Arthur caught 184 passes for 2,653 yards, both career records for the University of Akron.
In 2005, Arthur was a member of the Zips squad that qualified for the first Division 1 bowl game in school history. In the Motor City Bowl, Arthur set the record for most receiving yards with a 181 yard performance. As a senior in 2007, he set the Zips record for catches in a season with 86.
In 2007, Arthur was awarded the Vern Smith Leadership Award, emblematic of a student athlete’s leadership skills on and off the field. This award represents the highest individual award and is bestowed upon honorees as selected by MAC head coaches.
Also, an Honorable Mention All-American and first-team All-MAC selection, Arthur holds school records for receptions in a game (15), season (86), and career (184), and receiving yards in a game (223) and career (2,653).
Arthur signed a free agent contract with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. After one year with the Chiefs, he found a home with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He spent eight seasons with the Stampeders (2008-15), and a short stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. During his time in Calgary, he appeared in three Grey Cups and was a champion twice.
As a member of the Stampeders, Arthur was the ambassador for Kids Cancer Care at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, spending many hours aiding young members of the Calgary community. Immediately following his retirement from the CFL, Arthur worked at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, an experience he found both eye opening and humbling.
In 2017, Arthur returned to the game he loves, taking a position with the University of Calgary Dinos Football Team as receivers’ coach and offensive assistant. Now in his second season with the team, Arthur has found his calling in coaching the game he loves.
But what Jabari loves as much, or more, is his family.
As he commented in his remarks at the Induction Ceremony: “Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an incredible honor. It is a remarkable lifetime achievement, and I am humbled by the nomination. It is special to me, because I dedicated my time and career at Akron to my father who passed away in my first semester. It is also a tribute to my family and friends for their support, my coaches and teammates for challenging me, and my professors and support staff for their help. They are all a part of my success.”
One of the coaches, Doug Geiser, who attended the induction ceremony and who participated in recruiting Jabari for Akron said this about Arthur: “He has an imposing presence and an outstanding charisma. He knows how to interact and make those around him feel comfortable. He is sincere, honest, and hardworking.” He further stated that he was impressed with Jabari’s family who undoubtedly had provided him with a nurturing environment.
Ms. Anne Farray, a long-standing member of the Grenada Association of Montreal has echoed similar sentiments about Jabari, akin to those expressed by Mr. Geiser. She noted, “From childhood I saw in him that serene confidence as he excelled, his humility and genuineness were resounding. It was there from the start… as far back as a child, he had that air and deportment which could lead him to stardom.”
This helps to explain why in 2000 Arthur was awarded a bursary by the Grenada Association to assist in furthering his studies.
One of Jabari’s favorite memories about life at Akron involves a special group of people who helped to organize the “Jabari Arthur Corner” at the Rubber Bowl, Akron’s home field. A group of guys painted a white sheet that read: “Jabari Arthur Corner.” He thought that was very cool. Every time he scored a touchdown, he would run over there and celebrate with them. He still has that sheet to this day and continues to cherish their adulation.
Another of Jabari’s favorite memories, Jabari being the sixteenth, was his meeting of the first Black athlete to be inducted into Akron Hall of Fame.
Jabari’s arrival at Akron was greeted with consternation; most people thought that Canadians only played hockey. They were astonished to learn that football was played in Canada. So surprised were they that he was slapped with the moniker “Canadian Bacon.”
This attitude may be best explained by their ambivalence to Canadian bacon. They were also unaware that Jabari was rated 2002’s #1 college prospect of Canada. Moreover, he had proven to be the Zips big-play receiver.
His tenure at Akron lends credence to Shakespeare’s contention that “some men are born great; some achieve greatness, others have greatness thrusted upon them.”
Jabari Arthur has been a great athlete.