What a timely trip to the City of Champions.
This was an unexpected trip to Edmonton because at the beginning of the season I was not slated to make the trek to where it all began for me some 30 years ago. Then I received a phone call from Paul Graham, Vice-President & Executive Producer of Live Events for TSN, and he notified me that Edmonton was interested in having me get involved with the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Weekend by emceeing a few events.
That got the ball rolling for yours truly to get out to my old stomping grounds and have a chance to call the Montreal at Edmonton game, plus get involved with the aforementioned HOF events. Bonus!
I could not believe how lucky I was. You see, of the six inductees selected into the Hall this season I had a direct link to five. Crazy!
I played with all four players going in and yelled at the other for fourteen years while playing.
Why? Well that's easy. It was the legendary CFL official John "Jake" Ireland. We definitely had our nose-to-nose, get-it-all-out, knock-down, drag-out confrontations before. But now we are friends and it meant for some pretty good 'ole stories out in Edmonton this past week.
And like I said before, I'd played and was teammates with Brian Fryer, Dan Ferrone, Earl Winfield and Miles Gorrell.
Don Loney, "Father of Maritime Football" and legendary coach at St. FX, was the other deserving inductee. Mr. Loney passed away in 2004 so his brother Ted and his lovely wife Jan were in attendance to accept the honor bestowed on Mr. Loney.
Needless to say the hospitality suite was rocking each night we were in Edmonton, giving all the inductees and their families a chance to celebrate and tell some lies and endless hilarious stories. This made the week one that took a serious toll on the remaining brain cells I have left.
It all started with the Jacket Presentations on Wednesday evening, the bust unveiling on Thursday morning, the dinner and speeches Thursday evening then the Hall of Fame Game Saturday afternoon.
I can't tell you how proud I was for the class of 2013 but also for the City of Champions.
Although the professional sports in Edmonton may not be living up to the top billing lately, the people of Edmonton and their fans certainly are once again!
Over 1,100 folks attended the Edmonton Eskimos Gala Dinner in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame celebration and the Induction Ceremonies for the class of 2013.
Dave Randorf co-hosted the induction portion of the evening with me; basically we just tried not to screw things up because Aquila Productions had everything under control. It was truly a stellar evening.
The work and effort that goes into something of this magnitude is overwhelming and often a labour of love for all involved. A Big "slow clap" for Executive Director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Mark DeNobile and Manager, Marketing and Events Sarah Lajeunesse.
I'd be remiss if I did not mention the ageless and wonderful Allan Watt, Vice Presiden,t Marketing and Communications for the Eskimos and the beautiful and talented Amy Moats, Marketing and Game Operations Coordinator for the Esks.
The man usually in charge of everything Aquila was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately the brilliantly talented Don Metz was ill and in the hospital. Only good thoughts for Don and a speedy recovery! You would have been proud of your team, in particular Glenn Wiun.
A tip of the hat to everyone involved in an unforgettable weekend recognizing the CFHOF Class of 2013.