Michael (Pinball) Clemons, arguably the most popular figure in Toronto’s sports history, is likely out as the Argonauts’ CEO, sources tell Metro.
Clemons, they say, might remain with the Argos in a front-office and/or ambassador capacity but his agent, Gil Scott, isn’t sure.
“I really don’t know what’s going on with Pinball,” Scott said. “I can’t get a straight answer.”
Neither Clemons nor Argos co-owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon could be reached by Metro yesterday. General manager Adam Rita was contacted at the Senior Bowl site in Alabama, where he is scouting, but his cell phone disconnected after he was asked about Clemons and it went straight into voice mail the rest of the afternoon.
While Clemons may be mulling over a non-executive offer from the Argos, the sources say ownership is close to hiring a new CEO.
Clemons, 44, became the Argos’ head coach during the 2000 season after a legendary playing career in Toronto that started in 1989 and landed him in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
He finished with a coaching record of 68-55-1 and led the Argos to the Grey Cup championship in 2004. He was appointed CEO before the 2008 season and hired his defensive co-ordinator, Rich Stubler, as his head-coaching successor. He also was responsible for trading for quarterback Kerry Joseph, who was chosen the CFL’s top player with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007.
Both Stubler and Joseph flopped. Clemons fired Stubler in midseason and replaced him with Don Matthews, who went 0-8. The Argos finished 4-14 and out of the playoffs. Sokolowski and Cynamon, unhappy with Clemons’ CEO performance, offered him the chance to return as head coach but he refused, sources said.
Last week, when the Argos hired ex-NFL assistant Bart Andrus, Clemons wasn’t consulted and didn’t attend the news conference that introduced the team’s newest head coach.
• Rita, incidentally, tried to influence Andrus to hire longtime CFL coach Dave Ritchie as the Argos’ defensive co-ordinator because of his Canadian experience, but sources suggest Andrus is choosing instead to hire a friend from the NFL.
• One of Canada’s premier sports columnists is retiring early.
William Houston, whose Truth and Rumours became must-read material after it launched in 1991, has accepted a buyout from The Globe and Mail and will write his final column next month.
“Bill ripped me a lot early in my career, but he made me better,” CBC sports reporter Elliotte Friedman said. “He was fair.”
From ex-TSN and Sportsnet anchor Jim Van Horne: “He made the media look over their shoulders and forced them to be honest.”
Marty York is Metro's national sports columnist as well as an
instructor at the College of Sports Media in Toronto. He can be heard
regularly on Vancouver radio station CKNW with Sportstalk host Dan
Russell. Contact Marty at firstname.lastname@example.org