Executive Director’s Message
I am indebted to our CFL Alumni Board of Directors, Brett MacNeil (President), Terry Bulych VP (Saskatchewan), Robert “Bob” Bronk (Secretary/Treasurer) JT Hay and Bill Johnson (Calgary), Ian Mofford (Montreal), Jim Cain (Ottawa) Hector Pothier (Past President) for their volunteer work over the year, and to Linda Wood Edwards, who handles our governance, and many other critical board organizational matters. Her stewardship and her “herding” abilities have been critical to our association. Thank you to you all!
This year saw the passing of many former players. One of which was former Ticat David Lane and Executive member of the CFLAA Board of Directors. Our condolences go out to his to his family and friends. He will be fondly remembered.
On behalf of the CFLAA Board of Directors, we also like to thank our dream team of professionals for their support. Our legal counsel includes Jim Cimba, Vernon Pahl and Robert Sokalski. As well as our chartered accountant Paul Kwiatkowski CA, provides us with an audited financial statement each year.
We like to also thank our key supporters for their financial support over the course of the year. These generous groups include the CFL, local football clubs, the individual team Alumni Associations, sponsors, along with individual and corporate donors. You are invaluable to our ongoing operations.
We especially like to thank Jeffrey Orridge for his leadership, guts and determination in making some major needed changes to the League so it remains relevant in the jam packed world of professional sport. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the CFL, under the leadership of Commissioner, Jeffrey Orridge and the Board of Governor’s, led by Jim Lawson.
The main reason we began and exist today is to support former players through the CFL Alumni Support Fund and the CFL in general. The Support Fund is to be a last resort for our unfortunate colleagues and families that have fallen on bad financial times due to medical challenges regardless whether they are football related or not.
Before we began, most Associations did not have a support fund in place. Now most organizations either have their own support fund or have special funds allocated to help. This is the good news. The even better news there has not been a great demand for support.
The level of activity of Alumni in their respective communities is unprecedented. We have been united. Our next step is to actively engage former CFL players residing in the United States. We have a number of strategies in place to engage them in all that is CFL. Did you know that 75% of all rostered players since 1936 are from the United States?
We are excited about what we have accomplished and for the men we have helped.
- Canadian Sports Concussion Project. We have had over 75 former players go through neuro cognitive testing at Toronto Western Hospital. Also, we have 25 former players who donated their brains.
The research team is led by one of the world’s preeminent neurologists, Dr. Charles Tator. We still need more participants to assist with the ongoing research. (www.solveconcussions.ca )
- Never Alone Rose Project (partnership with the Never Alone Foundation (http://www.neveralonefoundation.ca/ -founded by former Bomber, Lyle Bauer)
The Never Alone Rose was created by the Canadian Nurseries and Landscape Association. The CFLAA has supported the sale of the rose across Canada. We are led by cancer survivors Hector Pothier, James Murphy, and Lui Passaglia. The CFL Alumni Support Fund has received a donation of $20,000.
- Grey Cup 104/CFL Alumni Legends Luncheon- (Toronto, ON). The event continues to be one of the “go to” events at Grey Cup. This year’s CFL Alumni Man of the Year will honor Peter Martin and Michael “Pinball” Clemons.
- Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Induction Weekends (Las Vegas, NV) Danny McManus was inducted into this prestigious Hall of Fame. He joined Angelo Mosca, Hugh Campbell, George Reed, Matt Dunigan and Ray Elgaard. He will be enshrined with former Oakland Raider and Montreal Alouette, Fred Biletnikoff. (gridirongreats.org )
- United Way/Servus/CFL Alumni Golf Tournament (Medicine Hat, AB) The event completed its 18th year of operations. It is put on by and to support United Way of Southeastern Alberta. As well, a portion of proceeds goes to support the CFL Alumni Support Fund. Each year between 40-50 CFL Alumni are participants.
- Grey Cup Festival Reunion (Toronto, ON) – The CFLAA partnered with the Toronto Junior Board of Trade Alumni to host this first time event to celebrate the history of Grey Cup Festival. The event was held at the prestigious Albany Club (founded by Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister). The key note speaker was Tony Gabriel and included attendees Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge and Toronto Argos CEO/President, Michael Copeland. Donations were made to the CFLAA.
- Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (Vancouver, BC)- In support of Canadian Men’s Health Week we partnered with CMHN and created promotional snippets to help create awareness. We see our relationship only growing.
We often hear the “League needs to get younger”. It is important that we reach out to our younger Alumni in each of our cities and encourage them to participate and take on some of the roles necessary to keep our organizations vibrant. Careers are short, the lifestyle is unique, and the adjustment to a post football career is an inevitable challenge for all those who have played. Some disguise it better than others. The fellowship experienced through membership is the key to helping get through this inevitable transition. Our lives are lived in reverse and at an accelerated rate. We achieve great success and adulation at a very young age. When we “retire” we have between 40-70 years to go. Now what?
Again our primary goal is to support those Alumni and fans that brought us here. To those folks we say THANK YOU!
See you at the CUP!
Leo Ezerins, Executive Director
CFL Alumni Association