Realty One

Friday, September 15, 2017


Bravo to the Canadian Football League and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats! Tim Hortons Field hosted Thursday evening's 2017 Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony honouring, from left: Kelvin Anderson, Mike O'Shea, Stan Schwartz, Geroy Simon, Brian Towriss and (missing) Anthony Calvillo.

Here are some notes from the evening:

Rod Smith at the mic
1 - First off, kudos to those who responsible for putting on such a classy, top-notch event! For $98, fans could mingle and rub shoulders with CFL icons of the past and present. The speeches weren't too long, the ceremony on the field was held on a clear, warm Southern Ontario evening and the event came off without a hitch.

2 - TSN's Rod Smith served as the MC for the night and admitted it was one of the few times that he could actually be a "fan" and gush over his Canadian football heroes who were on hand for the evening.

3 - Commisioner Randy Ambrosie led off the speakers and joked that when he was a rookie in the CFL, he didn't envision being on the stage for a Hall of Fame induction in quite this fashion. He properly feted the inductees, and delivered a classy address.

Commissioner Ambrosie
4 - Ticats owner Bob Young was next to the podium and mentioned how glad they were to host such a prestigious event in their beautiful stadium. He then cracked a joke about Anthony Calvillo being a "Hall of Fame Ticat quarterback". Everyone in attendance knew to what he was referring. Calvillo's tenure in Hamilton in the 1990's was brief and unremarkable. A.C. rose to Hall of Fame status while with the Montreal Alouettes in the 2000s.

5 - Stampeders great Kelvin Anderson reached 1,000 yards in each of his eight CFL seasons and credited Roy Shivers for getting him to the CFL. He had a ton of family on hand and thanked them all individually for supporting him on his road to greatness.

6 - Anthony Calvillo admitted that his intention was to miss the ceremony as his preference was to be in Montreal preparing for the Alouettes' Week 13 game against Ottawa but his team strongly encouraged him attend his induction. His speech was heavily focused on family, but he seemed distracted and it was clear his thoughts were with his current team. However he did acknowledge Bob Young's comment, and said it was a "much different atmosphere" when he toiled with the Ticats and congratulated Young on what he's accomplished with the franchise.

Thursday Night Lights
7 - Mike O'Shea knocked my socks off. He thanked his mother for getting him into football because his Dad wasn't into the sport however Mike thanked them both for instilling in him the trait of "getting out of bed to grind each day". He said this induction is a reflection of every teammate, coach, family member and CFL fan connected to the game. Hearing him speak, I was immediately going to Tweet that his was the best speech but the best was yet to come.

8 - Long-time Stampeders executive Stan Schwartz said the biggest reward of his front office career was watching boys come to the Stamps and leave as men. He also thanked his parents, and spoke of growing up in Medicine Hat and learning the traits of Respect, Responsibility and Discipline. He also thanked Graham Kelly of the Medicine Hat News which made me think that's the first time a member of the media was recognized at a Hall of Fame induction!

9 - Geroy Simon was, as expected, spectacular. He thanked every team who gave him a chance and also every coach who recruited him. He also thanked the Roughriders for giving him a chance to win a Grey Cup in his last-ever game. He broke down entirely when recognizing his late wife Tracey, and said it was her who encouraged him to give the B.C. Lions a try when he was cut by the NFL. For me, Geroy's was the best speech but I have a huge soft spot for him.

10 - U of S Huskies legend Brian Towriss mentioned that after losing two Vanier Cups on that very field, he never would've expected he'd be inducted into a Hall of Fame there. He mentioned that while he may not be monetarily rich, he's rich in experiences and family.

11 - I must throw in this tidbit about Ticats legend Angelo Mosca. Sitting in his wheelchair at field level (some quipped that his cane was confiscated at the door), many of the Hall of Famers stopped by to whisper in his ear throughout the evening.

When one Hall of Famer strode across the stage to make his speech, Angie barked out "UGLY!" His wife reached over and angrily swatted him across the shoulder. Not many heard it, thankfully, but I did!

12 - Among those in attendance, Marc Trestman, Jim Popp, Craig Reynolds, Wayne Morsky and Rider board members, Bob O'Billovich, Russ Jackson, Pete Martin, Dave Naylor, Leo Ezerins, Miles Gorrell, James West, Peter Dalla Riva, Scott Mitchell, John Hufnagel, Wade Miller and a host of other CFL personalities.

13 - Again, I was blown away by the event and was so glad I went. Sitting in those seats on a warm fall evening, it was the very essence of football.

Thanks to Canadian Football Hall of Fame Executive Director Mark Denobile for extending the invitation to attend.

Well done Mark!



Anonymous said...

Looks like a classy event for sure. What was the attendance? Doesn't look like too many in the stands from that pic but if word gets out regarding how awesome the event was I'll bet way more will attend in the coming years.

Gunderson's Yorkton

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Rod.
That's as good a summary as you've ever authored.
You didn't have to pump Riders tires so it felt genuine.
Great work.

Anonymous said...

Class creates class. Wish I could have been there too. There are times in a person's life that reflect who they are and what they stand for. That is the essence of sportsmanship and the CFL.You are one lucky scribe to be able to attend.Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Angelo Mosca is suffering from dementia. A very cruel disease.

Anonymous said...

Did the Hamilton media show up for the event?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the inside story. It sounds like it was a great evening, and wish I could have been there.


GPB said...

If it was such a good thing that nobody else heard Mosca's comment, then why did you have to write about it ?

Anonymous said...

Yes thanks for covering this event. Sounds like a very classy affair. Hopefully I will be able to attend the next time it is in Regina.

Anonymous said...

Rod you beautiful man that was a simply beautiful article.

CM said...

nice recap. heartfelt about Geroy's wife.

Anonymous said...

I was there first class event, to bad the City missed the Boat? Way to go Hamilton