06/29/2013 08:47 EDT | Updated 08/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Ex-CFLer Jack Gotta dead at 83; played and coached over 30 year span

CALGARY - Jack (Jocko) Gotta, a former Canadian Football League player, coach and general manager, passed away Saturday at the age of 83.

The Stampeders said in a statement that Gotta passed away at the Bethany Care Centre in Calgary.

Gotta, from Ironwood, Mich., began his CFL career with the Stampeders in 1956, playing in Calgary for four seasons. He was a CFL West all-star as a wide receiver and defensive back in 1957. He also earned all-star recognition in 1958.

In 1960 he joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he stayed until 1964 when he moved to the Montreal Alouettes for a season.

He started his coaching career as an assistant with Saskatchewan in 1965 and moved to Ottawa in 1968. He became head coach of the Rough Riders in 1970 and led Ottawa to a Grey Cup title in 1973. In 1974, he coach the Birmingham Americans to the first and only World Football League championship.

He became head coach and GM of the Stampeders in 1977 after Calgary had suffered through five straight losing seasons including a 2-12-2 mark in 1976. Within two years, the Stamps were back in the playoffs and making the first of back-to-back appearances in the West Division final.

He returned to coach the Stamps in 1982 and 1983 and, over a total of five seasons at the helm, guided Calgary to a 42-34-4 record.

Gotta won the Annis Stukus Trophy as the CFL's coach of the year on three occasions — with Ottawa in 1972 and 1973 and with Calgary in 1978.

He worked as an analyst on TV before returning to the sidelines in 1985 to become Saskatchewan's head coach for two seasons.