Born in Vancouver in 1929, Rod’s early football days started at King Edward High School from 1944 to 1947, where he won the Vancouver and District High School Championship in 1947. During these years, Rod played for Skymaster (Jr “A”), a league sponsored by the Junior Board of Trade, comprised 22 teams, at two levels.
He also played for the Senior “VAC” of the Big 4 Football League in the days of amateur football being a year-round sport in Vancouver with high school in the fall and community leagues running in the spring.
The highlight of his early years was in 1947, when he was a part of the Vancouver Blue Bombers, a renown local junior team which defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a two game total point series, to win the Canadian Championship. Rod received a scholarship to Oregon University, but was unable to attend due to a broken ankle.
In 1948, he joined the Calgary Stampeders and won a Grey Cup title as part of an undefeated squad before moving on to Montreal in 1950 where he enjoyed a second Grey Cup win and an All-Canadian selection at linebacker. From there, he went on to play with the Edmonton Eskimos from 1952 to 1954, enjoying yet another Grey Cup victory and finally to Saskatchewan from 1955 to 1956.