Canadian Football League

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Former Canadian Football League QB now head coach in college

Turner Gill, who quarterbacked Nebraska to three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles in the early 1980's, was introduced Friday as the new coach of the University at Buffalo.

Als bring back nasty Canadian Football League player

It was probably not on this year's wish list for CFL quarterbacks -- at least two more seasons of Ed Philion causing havoc in the backfield.
The 35-year-old, one of the league's best and nastiest defensive tackles, signed a contract yesterday to stay with the Montreal Alouettes for two years, with an option for a third year.
The Essex native -- one of the rare Canadians as good or better at his position than American players -- was perhaps the most important of the club's potential free agents to keep in the fold. His return also maintains a tough, physical presence on the Alouettes' line -- a player some opponents have accused of playing dirty.
"I play to win, that's all," he said. "I don't know if that's nasty. Everybody plays to win. I've never done anything deliberate to hurt anybody, but I make sure every shot counts."
General manager Jim Popp called Philion "a great football player. He's been made out to be a bad guy sometimes but he's not a dirty player. He's a hard-nosed guy who will come at you every time."
Philion has spent seven seasons with Montreal, his only CFL team, posting 157 tackles and 34 sacks in 109 career games.
"He gets double-teamed a lot, so he doesn't get the stats that all-star team voters look at a lot of the time," added Popp.
Philion didn't consider free agency. The contract was mostly worked out before the playoffs and needed only the details finalized.
Financial terms weren't released, but Philion said he was satisfied with his pay.
"You can always test free agency and get more, but is it worth selling your house and moving your family? We're comfortable here."
His wife Ann is a teacher and they and their three children live year-round in the Montreal area.
The deal leaves Popp with five potential free agents to sign -- rush end Anwar Stewart, linebacker Timothy Strickland, safety Richard Karikari, guard Scott Flory and backup quarterback Ted White.
Argos re-sign Austin, Miles
TORONTO -- The Toronto Argonauts re-signed offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin to a two-year contract yesterday.
The Argonauts also signed wide receiver Tony Miles to a contract extension through 2007. Miles, 26, was the team's leader in receptions (91) and receiving yards (1,275) in 2005.
Austin had been mentioned as one of the candidates for the vacant Winnipeg head coaching position, but he pulled out of consideration earlier this week, saying he wanted to remain in Toronto.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Canadian Football League QB Printers gets workout in K.C.

CFL QB gets a workout
Casey Printers, a quarterback with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League, is in Kansas City for a workout.
“He’s here now,” coach Dick Vermeil said Wednesday. “Steve DeBerg is his coach, and Steve was at practice today.”
Printers is a mobile, 6-foot-2, 216-pound quarterback who played at TCU with LaDainian Tomlinson. He transferred to Florida A&M his senior year to play in a more pass-oriented offense.
He was B.C.’s backup this season but was the league’s MVP in 2004 after throwing for 5,088 yards and 35 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also ran for 469 yards in 2004.
The Chiefs have two backup quarterbacks — Todd Collins and Damon Huard — who are entrenched in their 30s. They drafted James Kilian in the seventh round this spring but cut him.
Printers had a workout in Miami earlier this week.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Former Canadian Football League player still the best

Believe this: UT's Ealey still above the rest
Matt Leinart couldn't do it. Vince Young couldn't do it, either.
Neither could Ken Dorsey, Jerry Tagge or Steve Davis. And they only compose the greatest collection of winning quarterbacks in the history of Division I-A college football.
Chuck Ealey of the University of Toledo stands alone.
He's the winner, champion and still standing as the all-time winningest college quarterback.
At 35-0, from 1969-71, Ealey was the best. Still is.
Leinart, of USC, is a senior who's 37-1 as a starter, with one game remaining in his college career against Young's Texas Longhorns in the Rose Bowl. Young, a junior, is 29-2 as a starter and has at least one more game to play, if he doesn't return for his senior season.
Dorsey was 38-2 at Miami. Tagge was 24-1-1 at Nebraska. Davis was 32-1-1 at Oklahoma.
Despite outstanding success at Ohio State, Craig Krenzel also doesn't measure up. The Buckeyes were "only" 24-3 with Krenzel in the starting lineup.
Stalwarts all, none of these quarterbacks, no matter how successfully they played their position and - with the exception of Young - led their teams to national championships, can match Ealey's unblemished mark.
Thirty-five starts, 35 victories.
His record won't be challenged soon. USC and Texas are the only undefeated teams in 2005.
Ealey's record could stand for another 34 years. It could stand the test of time.
His accomplishments have been deemed so remarkable that he will be honored in a Ripley's Believe It or Not cartoon in early January. The cartoon appears in more than 200 newspapers worldwide, including The Blade.
Ealey's name was submitted to Ripley's by John Carpenter, a sports memorabilia buff from Firebrick, Ky., who followed Ealey's career from the time he was a high school star in nearby Portsmouth, Ohio.
"We look for things that are peculiar, unique and unusual in nature. Lots of times, things in sports fall in that category," said Viviana Ray of Ripley Entertainment.
Consider that Ealey, who was 18-0 as a starter in high school, was a perfect 53-0 at quarterback in high school and college.
What's more, Ealey, who played in the Canadian Football League after college, led the Hamilton Tigercats to a Grey Cup in his first season, the equivalent of the NFL's Super Bowl. He was also named the league's top rookie and MVP of the Grey Cup that year.
He only started receiving national attention a few years ago, when his 35-0 record was compared to Dorsey's mark.
Even now, Ealey remains a shadowy, distant figure when compared to the likes of big-time winning quarterbacks such as Leinart and Young, but at least people around the country are becoming familiar with his name.
He knows the facts that he didn't win a national championship, and that UT doesn't compete in a major conference, have been held against him all these years.
"All things are relative," Ealey said. "One year we beat Ohio a week after Ohio had beaten Minnesota."
Ealey made the best of the cards he was dealt. He played who was on the schedule. He never lost a game.
His 1.000 winning percentage is the best of all time. He's the closest thing there is to perfection in college football.

Doug Berry to be introduced as the Bombers new Canadian Football League head coach


WINNIPEG -- Doug Berry will be introduced as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers new head coach this afternoon.
Berry, who has been the Montreal Alouettes co-offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons, has reached an agreement with the Bombers and is scheduled to sign his contract this morning.
No one from the Bomber organization would confirm the news, but when the Sun contacted the Berry home in Massachusetts last night, a family member said he was on his way to Winnipeg.
Berry, 57, becomes the 26th head coach in Winnipeg Football Club history. He follows Jim Daley, who was fired on Nov. 8 after the Bombers finished the 2005 CFL campaign with a 5-13 record and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.
It's believed Berry got the nod over former Renegades defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall and Calgary associate head coach Denny Creehan.

"There may be a market or two in the CFL that some people would perceive as 'Uh, I don't know about that job,' but Winnipeg's foundation is solid, and it looks like they're willing to win," Berry told the Sun on Dec. 8 after his first interview with Bombers GM Brendan Taman.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Former Canadian Football League player to coach NWFA team

Richmond's entry in the National Women's Football Association has acquired an identity, a coach and a shelf in the NWFA's Internet retail store.

The NWFA, the nation's largest full-contact tackle league for women, announced yesterday that the local club will be called the Richmond Spirit and will be coached by Wolf Williams, the director of football at the U-Turn Performance Academy.
Williams, a former Rutgers standout and two-year member of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, said he is impressed and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the 40 or so women who participated in three preliminary tryouts at Dorey Park in October.
"The hardest thing for me, to be honest, is holding them back," Williams said. "They want to start now. They think they're ready right now to put on pads and go out there and hit."
NWFA officials say Richmond probably will play a handful of exhibition games next season before joining the league on a full-time basis beginning in April 2007. Much remains to be done, Williams said. The Spirit must locate an owner, sponsors, another 20-25 athletes and venues at which to play and practice.
But judging from the response he has seen thus far, Williams said, "I don't think it's going to be a very hard sell."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dolphins looking to reach deal with Canadian Football League for Printers

The Dolphins are awaiting permission from the NFL and CFL to bring in BC Lions quarterback Casey Printers for a workout. The former FAMU and TCU player also is the 2004 CFL Most Outstanding Player. But before the Dolphins can check out Printers, both leagues have to agree to allow it, and that will take an indefinite amount of time, one NFL source said Sunday.
Several scouts who have watched Printers are impressed with his mobility and playmaking ability. At 6-2 and 213 pounds, Printers has good but not great size.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Former Canadian Football League head coach to join Hamilton?

It didn't take long for former Renegades head coach Joe Paopao to land on his feet again.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, Paopao and former assistant coach and offensive co-ordinator Kani Kauahi will join the coaching staff of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this week.
Paopao is expected to become the offensive coordinator while Kauahi will take over the offensive line duties. Former assistants Jamie Barresi and Mark Murray did not have their contracts renewed.
"I can't confirm anything," Paopao told the Citizen when asked if the pair had signed with Hamilton.
"I don't want to say anything until we're buttoned up," Ticats general manager Rob Katz said, admitting the team would "probably" have a decision this coming week.

New Renegades owners Bernie and Lonie Glieberman replaced Paopao with John Jenkins following the season, a move that was not well received by Ottawa fans. In his four years in the nation's capital, his record was 23-49. He has also had stints with B.C., Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Kauahi was the offensive line coach in B.C. before joining the expansion Renegades in 2002.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Former Canadian Football League player fights the NFL

Victor Washington played six years in the National Football League. Now he no longer can ride a bicycle.
The Plainfield High School legend, who resides in Phoenix, had knee replacement surgery in 1998. His hands, wracked with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, have been operated on three times. He has chronic pain in his back, shoulders and elbows. Even sleeping hurts.
Several doctors, including those appointed by the NFL, have verified Washington's ailments and diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Simply put, all the pain and its accompanying depression have rendered him disabled.
For the past 22 years, Washington has been petitioning the NFL to collect full disability. For the past 22 years, one of the richest sports leagues in the world has dodged his request like a shifty halfback. His plight went national last weekend, when The Wall Street Journal put it on the front page.
"We're like collateral damage in a war," Washington said via phone Wednesday. "I was mowed down but I had a hand waving, but they said, 'He'll die in a little while.' I may not be the man I was before, but I'm a human being."
Victor Washington is angry, and after hearing his story, you'll be angry, too.
A gladiator
Life never has been easy for Washington. The son of a 16-year-old single mother, he spent three years in an orphanage in Elizabeth. He found his niche on the football field, starring as a tailback at Plainfield -- graduating in 1965 -- and later the University of Wyoming.
At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, Washington spent three years in the Canadian Football League before landing with the San Francisco 49ers. He prided himself on being a team-first guy and lined up at fullback, returned kicks and even played in the secondary at times. In 1972, he suffered a crack knee cap but kept playing and was voted to the Pro Bowl.
"I was a gladiator. I did everything the league asked me to do," he said. "When you played, you got shot up (with painkillers). That needle wore off after the game, and you went home in excruciating pain. You were in pain for the entire week, and then it came time to play and they shot you up again."
In the 1970s, football was harder on players' bodies. Pads were thinner. AstroTurf was prevalent -- Washington called it "rolled-over concrete." Treatment was far less sophisticated.
The bad knee forced him to retire in 1976. Hobbled and without health insurance, he moved in with his grandmother in South Plainfield. At his peak as a player, he was earning $50,000 per year. Nice money for the time, but a pittance compared to what first-stringers make today.
"They can afford Lloyds of London to insure their bodies. They can set up their own pension plan," Washington said. "What happened to all those guys who played from the 1950s to the 80s? Some of them are in nursing homes and some of them are at home crippled. That's why they're trying to bury me. The NFL does not want anyone to know what happened to Victor Washington."
A legal flea-flicker
Washington applied for disability benefits in 1983. The NFL awards $750 per month for non-football-related disabilities and $4,000 for football-related disabilities.
Incredibly, the league determined that Washington's problems were unrelated to football, pinning his stress disorder on his time in the orphanage. He got the $750.
Washington appealed, and in 1985 an arbitrator made a stunning decision against him.
Because the NFL defined football-related disability as the result of "a football injury" and Washington had "several" injuries, he wasn't eligible for the $4,000. It's an absurd parsing of words, but the NFL seized on it as policy.
It took 18 years and a lawsuit by another retired player for the courts to strike down this ridiculous interpretation. Last year, Washington finally filed his own lawsuit. In March, a federal judge ruled in his favor. The NFL is appealing.
"They wish I'd fall off the face of the earth, but right is right and wrong is wrong," Washington said. "I got hurt in the NFL; I didn't get hurt driving a truck. I got hurt playing one of the most violent games in the world. For them to tiptoe around and sensitize football like it's not violent is ridiculous."
Some facts provided by The Wall Street Journal bear repeating. The NFL makes $5.2 billion in annual revenue. Of the 7,561 former players eligible for disability, only 135 receive benefits and only 90 of those are classified as football-related.
Meanwhile, in 2003, the NFL paid $3.1 million in legal fees to defend its disability plan. The league also once paid a private investigator to tail Washington.
"I'm fighting 32 billionaires," Washington said of the league's owners. "They'll fight me into the ground instead of giving me what I'm due."
A light at the tunnel's end
Washington had been reluctant to take his story public. But private letters to NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw, Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell and other power brokers went unanswered.
The Wall Street Journal thrust this saga into the light, and the NFL looks creepy. At one point, the league's medical liaison says, as paraphrased by the Journal, "there is little credible research on whether football leads to serious medical problems later in life."
The whole thing smacks of Alice in Wonderland. The NFL peers into the looking glass and sees what it wants to see. Unfortunately, this is no book of fiction.
"Victor is a great guy who played his heart out for the NFL and they handed him the short end of the stick," said his lawyer, Susan Martin of the Phoenix-based firm Martin & Bonnett. "What they have done to him ruined his life. But his story is not that uncommon."
Washington, 59, no longer watches football. He would rather take his 8-year-old son, Victor Jr., to the local park. He's tired of fighting uphill. He doesn't want to be remembered like this. But he also understands the big picture. He knows what's at stake for a generation of ailing former players.
"I'm not a bug you can just squish and go on," he said. "As long as I'm breathing, I'm going to fight."