Monday, May 20, 2013

Gridiron Greats Hall Of Fame Dinner

Before we begin, please, a moment of silence for Bryan Illerbrun. 

Seems only right.  More than a moment for us, due to a pounding-- next day-- headache after pounding too many in remembrance. Thus the delay with this instalment that may well end up involving Illie.

Bryan's funeral is Tuesday, May 21 in Williston, North Dakota.

On May 17 Gridiron Greats held their Hall of Fame Dinner. 

Be clear, this Hall Of Fame is independent of any other Hall of Fame anything, anywhere.

Gridiron Greats- fronted by Mike Ditka- is a wonderful organization.  It's aim is to assist former NFL players in dire need.

In addition to former NFL players, former Riders George Reed and Hugh Campbell  were put forth by the CFL Alumni Association and inducted on May 17. Last year Angelo Mosca entered.

Be clear about this as well; at this time, neither Gridiron Greats, the CFL nor the CFL Alumni Association provide tangible benefit to CFL alumni. 

We'll get into it later but the reasons outta be obvious. For any non-mathematicians- it's the CFL eh?

            GEORGE REED                                                              ANGELO MOSCA

DIRTY BEATIN' at the players only dinner, the night before.

George tells Mosca "to his face", what time it is with some Rider Pride of his own.                                                                                                                                                                

George Reed, Angelo Mosca (CFLAA)

No worries!

Just  a couple ol' hard core dudes having some fun. 

All past transgressions forgot or forgiven- it was only a game.

It's all good....  we're all friends now!

Do not however, mention the war to the Germans or Joe Kapp and Willie Fleming to Mosca or his empathetic pal Dr. Fruitcake Phil.

Hall Of Fame Dinner

tales of woe 

suggest to click the "WHO ARE THE" video

No shortage of horror stories. The one in particular, that caught our attention back in 2007, was about Willie Wood. 

Former USC team mate and now
guardian- Bob Schmidt
Willie Wood- Vince Lombari era Packers

The CFL connection is that Willie Wood, who had an extensive coaching career as well as a Hall Of Fame career as a player-- with the Green Bay Packers,  was an assistant coach in '79 and then the Argo head coach in '80. When ESPN broadcast the '81 Grey Cup-- Wood did the colour commentary.

This story is curious because no record remains anywhere on the interwebz of what Mike Ditka recounted on the Gridiron Greats website in 2007. 

Can only speculate as to the reasons why. Perhaps, Ditka was guilty of hyperbole. Perhaps, Wood or his attorney requested it be removed. Perhaps, the message was too negative and didn't jive with their mission. Or perhaps, it was detrimental to the onslaught of litigation currently underway. Memory is suspect at best, but sure enough about this to gonna go ahead and print it. 

To the best of our recollection it went like this, Ditka was alerted to the plight of Willie Wood so they went and pulled him out of a state run, assisted living facility. Recall, Ditka said or words to the effect,  "The place had a urine stench, Willie was stuck in his wheel chair with drool coming out the corner of his mouth, the staff were inattentive, his diapers hadn't been changed for three days and he didn't know where he was". He said, "it was a disgrace and an embarrassment that a NFL Hall Of Fame player should be subject to living in such squalorous conditions".  

Maybe it was an accurate assessment or maybe it was biased by perspective?  This came from Presidential Suite Stayin' Mike. When he had his angioplasty, after a heart attack in '88, you can bet Mike didn't get the procedure in a state run facility. Why should he? That's the beauty of the land of the free, as long as you got it-- you're free to pay for the best. That said, not sure we wanna hear what he'd say about the Regina General either. 

It's uncertain whether the facility Ditka was refering to is the same facility in the 2007 articles but it is certain Wood's current arrangement is an upgrade. Bottom line, he's better taken care of. 

Nice work Mike!

Love what Ditka is doing. The guy is like a larger than life-- "Super Hero". 

How can you not love Ditka? His name sounds kinda like Dilke eh? 

Articles dated 2007

Testimony of Bob Schmidt, Before the House Committee on the Judiciary: 2010

A 2013 Toronto Sun article that dials in the Argo connection and brings us up to date. Unfortunately, no light shed on the pre-Ditka intervention situation.

If Ditka or any other dude of consequence tells us to lose the story-- it's gone.

The reason we dedicated so much space and placed so much attention on the Willie Wood story is-- no such story currently exists of any ex-CFL players. They exist but remain hidden, no doubt, by the pride of the men who live them.

There was an article in the National a few years ago, about Jerry "Soupy" Campbell the ex-Ottawa Rough Rider's plight, but it has since become unavailable and no new ones exist to our knowledge. With Wood's CFL connection and with the magnitude of his story, it seemed the way to go. The ex-CFL player stories do exist. We'd like to hear them.

The CFL is the CFL and the NFL is the NFL. 

The small money, small tent side show and the massive BIG MONEY, BIG TIME, BIG SHOW. 

If the situation is this dire for ex-NFL'ers any guesses on how ex-CFL'ers fare?

The central issue for ex-NFL-ers is the financial burden of medical care from football injuries. For the ex-CFL'ers who stayed in Canada it's mostly covered, as it is for all Canadians . What about those who didn't stay?

Quality of life, compromised ability to earn income and all the rest must be about the same.

Those who say the NFL is more physical or recent claims that the CFL has fewer concussions; require serious reconsidering.

For players inside the box and players on special teams, there is little if any difference. The physicality is different for those outside the box but still significant.

The claims there are or were fewer concussions in the CFL is due to the lack of data not lack of concussions. Best if Cohon shuts down the shill show on that one, immediately.

Currently, the CFL Alumni Association consists largely, of ex-players who largely volunteer their time and energy. They also have careers, families and full time lives. We acknowledge and praise their efforts. Leo Ezreins is a salaried representative.

However, despite recent statements by them and by the CFL- no significant resources or vehicles to generate resources exist or to assist former players outside of offering the opportunity to purchase full retail Grey Cup tickets and discounted tickets to Alumni events. That, and if  ex-players wish, they can donate their brains.

It is what it is. 

That's all the CFLAA is capable of at this time.

Hats off to Leo Ezerins, Steve Mazurak, Terry Bulych, Greg Fieger, Angelo Mosca, George Reed and Jim Hopson who attended The Gridiron Greats Hall Of Fame ceremonies. Hope they made valuable connections, learned some valuable parallel strategies, got a few autographs and received serious inspiration and perhaps a bold new vision. That and hoisted a few. 

It's awesome and also noteworthy, that Mosca, Leo and the others have established the Gridiron Greats connection and that three former CFL players have been inducted in The Gridiron Greats Hall Of Fame. Nothing but good can come of it.

Wait and see. We hope this is a positive, feel good, story in the making. 


Any CFL alumni out there please feel free to weigh in.

Those who pop the comment cherries will automatically be entered into the draw for the brand new, sparkling green Corvette convertible. 

Rekon, if every CFL season, Safeway can dangle a $1,000,0000 in some vague lure of hope, no worries if we offer a Corvette convertible. 

So enter now to win.


  1. If my comment is nonsensical and completely uninformed, do I still qualify for the (non-existent) Corvette? I do like sparkling green.

    Nice story. My favorite memory of Ditka was when "Jimmy the Greek" asked him about the odds on a Superbowl, and he shut down the conversation with, "Odds are for people with bad habits." ("You no-talent asshole," implied.)

    Nice blog, man.

    Don Bong

  2. Don Bong Desjarlais!

    Haven't seen nor heard tale of you since that night at The Country Squire. Thanks for givin' us a gander.

    Awesome Ditka story!

    But think you outta read it again. Only this time, put your reading glasses on first. Sparkling Bong, not sticky.

    Consider yerself qualified.