Well, shoot. My youth took a bit of an emotional hit today.
If you’re a CFL fan, you know the name Don Matthews very well. One of the greatest Canadian Football coaches of all time, the man routinely referred to as simply ‘The Don’ passed away this morning at the age of 77.
Matthews got his start in the CFL in 1977 as a linebackers coach with the Edmonton Eskimos. He then served as Defensive Coordinator in Edmonton….where he had a prominent role in the team hoisting the Grey Cup many times…before landing his first head coaching position with the BC Lions in 1983. His stint in Vancouver was only five years – but man, with how many memories he created (the fondest being the Lions’ Grey Cup victory in 1985), it seemed like a whole lot longer.
From there, Matthews bounced around a bit, coaching in Baltimore, Montreal and Toronto, some locations enjoying return stints from the coach. Wherever he went, he was a winner….and he was an original. It wasn’t unusual for Matthews to call out members of his team…..he’d cut marquee names if they weren’t on board….AND he’d sometimes call out members of the media for what he deemed stupid or inappropriate questions.
Yup, ‘The Don’ was bold, brash, confident – I still remember the 1983 Western Final, as the Lions slugged it out against their bitter rivals from Winnipeg. Matthews, furrowed brow, was all business throughout much of the game….that is, until it was all but over, and he flashed a wink and a smile at the camera. Cocky, yes….but behind it all, he carried a winsome charm that made him as unique as the league itself.
Thanks Coach. ~ Jason