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Legendary CFL manager Don Matthews passed during age 77

They called him “The Don,” and with good reason.

A larger-than-life impression with a pointy wit who thrived in a spotlight, Don Matthews took disagreeable pleasure in gripping people around him on corner with his abrasive, no-nonsense style.

The Hall of Famer, who died Wednesday during a age of 77, was one of a many inclusive coaches in CFL story with 231 wins and 10 Grey Cup titles on his resume, including 5 won as a conduct coach.

But he was also a argumentative figure who had a high-risk, high-reward philosophy.

Players traditionally desired suiting adult for him since of his repute for formulating a winning atmosphere and safeguarding his athletes. During a unchanging season, Matthews’ teams frequency strike during use and he customarily authorised his players to attend in formulating a weekly diversion plan.

Yet he confirmed his distance. While famous for being a “player’s coach,” he could also be cruel when it came to creation tough crew decisions and wasn’t fearful to dais a maestro or cut him undisguised if he wasn’t producing.

“It’s that change and to do that we contingency be brilliant,” pronounced using back/slotback Mike (Pinball) Clemons, who won dual Grey Cups over 3 seasons personification for Matthews in Toronto. “Some people try to be a player’s manager though they let it go too distant and a players run a roost.

“He was a player’s manager though he was also a trainer and everybody knew that.”

Matthews was also brutally honest, a trait reporters covering his teams knew good as he would call them out publicly for seeking what he deemed to be an inapt question.

But even a press corps reputable him, voting Matthews a CFL’s manager of a year 5 times.

The Argonauts pronounced Matthews died Wednesday morning of pneumonia in Beaverton, Ore. He had announced in 2012 he was battling cancer.

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In a statement, a CFL called Matthews “one of a kind.”

“Upon discussion of a flitting of Don Matthews, a Canadian Football League family is both deeply saddened by this detriment and beholden for his many contributions to a league,” a matter said.

Charismatic and ardent with a sandpaper personality, Matthews was also a CFL personality from a beginning.

A former Marine from Amesbury, Mass., who eventually became a Canadian citizen, Matthews began his CFL coaching career as an partner with a Edmonton Eskimos in 1977 before being promoted to defensive co-ordinator a following season. He helped a bar win 5 constant Grey Cup titles from 1978 to ’82 before being named a B.C. Lions conduct manager in 1983.

Matthews spent 22 seasons as a CFL conduct manager with B.C., Baltimore, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal, reaching a Grey Cup 9 times and winning a record 5 championships. He was inducted into a Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

“He was, utterly frankly, a best personality I’ve ever been around,” Clemons said. “He taught me so many and a infancy of those lessons we didn’t comprehend were lessons until after a knowledge when we satisfied we walked divided with some-more than we gave, some-more than we were betrothed and many some-more than we were entitled to.

“He was enchanting in his approach, he was infectious. But uniquely, he had a approach of bringing out a best in people, he put we in a best position to be successful.”

And that enclosed Clemons, who pronounced Matthews authorised him to be a full-time using behind for a initial time in his career in 1996. But Matthews bucked required football knowledge as Clemons had some-more receiving yards (1,268) than rushing (286).

“He altered his philosophy, he altered a diversion to accommodate my skillset in a time where that unequivocally didn’t happen,” Clemons said.

Matthews’ change on Clemons continued when he served as Argos conduct manager from 2000 to 2007.

“I consider we was constant adequate to who we was, we didn’t try to be him since we couldn’t,” Clemons said. “There was usually one Don Matthews.

“While we didn’t try to be him, many of who he is became who we was since of his influence.”

It was Matthews who gave Argos GM Jim Popp his initial CFL job. Matthews was a conduct manager in Saskatchewan in ’92 when he hired Popp to be a club’s receivers manager and player-personnel director.

“I gathering 12 hours a day for 3 constant days to get to Regina from North Carolina,” Popp said. “I’d got my hair cut and we was wearing a fit when we arrived and Don, who was wearing jeans, said, ‘Shoot, you’re approach too dressed adult for me.’

“I’ve famous for several days that Don wasn’t doing good though standard Don, he battled.”

Popp and Matthews also worked together in Baltimore (1994-95) before Popp altered with a Stallions to Montreal while Matthews headed to Toronto. Popp hired Matthews as a Alouettes conduct manager in 2002 and over 5 seasons a authorization posted a 58-28 regular-season record and played in 3 Grey Cups, winning once.

“Don was a shining male who complicated universe leaders and how to lead people,” Popp said. “He also wanted to demeanour after people, that is since he’d get into it with a media since he was deflecting things from a players so they could only combine on a game.

“He was an innovator, he was always meditative ahead, he was always looking for an edge. You had to acquire his honour though if we did and got into his middle round we could still conflict with him and 5 minues after all was behind to normal.”

Most of all, Popp pronounced Matthews was unequivocally loyal.

“He devoted me and we devoted him,” Popp said. “He told my dad, ‘I will always take caring of your son.’

“And he did.”

More often, a public’s perspective of Matthews was as a free-spirited constant shooter who was never lacking in self confidence. He was ardent about roving large motorcycles and launched a CD and video of a rallying intone “What Time is It?” formed on a debate he gave during a Montreal Alouettes’ 2002 Grey Cup feat parade.

But there were earthy signs late in his career that time had held adult with Matthews. His face had turn rounder and mostly seemed some-more flush. He was famous to use a golf transport to get around during Alouettes practice, rather than walk.

Matthews was also a argumentative figure. In 2004 while he coached in Montreal, a Alouettes were twice indicted of videotaping hostile coaches signals on a sidelines.

Prior to a ’04 East Division final contra Toronto, he downplayed his reputation, observant “I have a passion for divert and cookies. we have a approach some-more tedious life than some of we competence think.”

But Matthews was anything though boring.

‘A male of all seasons’

He was a master during moulding players to fit his systems. Routinely his defences were ranked during or nearby a tip of many CFL categories, nonetheless his players were good down in a particular statistical races.

Matthews was never fearful to put it on a line in a large diversion and in 2003, he rode an attacking, blitzing Alouettes counterclaim into a Grey Cup notwithstanding carrying rookies D.J. Johnson and Brandon Williams during cornerback.

He stubbornly refused to change his truth in a CFL pretension game, selecting to shell openly via and put Johnson and Williams in male coverage opposite some-more gifted receivers. The pierce backfired as Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray ceaselessly victimized Johnson and Williams in heading a Eskimos to a 34-22 victory.

Though he frequency showed it publicly, Matthews also had a softer side.

When he was Argos conduct coach, he attended a book launch for Clemons. Matthews was holding Clemons’ baby daughter, Raven, during a news discussion when she began to squirm. To ease a small girl, Matthews private one of her boots and kindly burnished a bottom of her foot, settling her down immediately.

“That’s unequivocally what we consider was singular about him, he was a male of all seasons,” Clemons said. “Most of a time people don’t do it and we daunt leaders to do that mostly since they can’t.

“The pivotal thing here was he could and he did. He had this smashing personal hold and he altered lives.”

Matthews is survied by his wife, Stephanie, and 4 sons.

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