CFLers get good reception in Oromocto
Grey Cup visit | Former CFLers believe Atlantic region
would support club
By Andrew Holland
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Frifay May 13, 2011
Appeared on page B1
Some special guests received an enthusiastic welcome at Oromocto High
Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Quinton Porter and several former
Canadian Football League standouts were in the Model Town with the Grey
Cup, promoting the second year of Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic, the
regular season CFL game between the Tiger-Cats and the Calgary
Stampeders, set Sept. 25 at Moncton's Stade Moncton Stadium.
The event was coordinated by the CFL Alumni Association in
conjunction with CFB Gagetown, another stop on the Grey Cup tour.
Porter, who hopes to be in the lineup for the game against the
Stamps, was joined by a handful of ex-Hamilton players, including Hall
of Fame defensive ends Grover Covington and Less Brown, defensive tackle
Rod Skillman, former CFL great Bruce Smith who played in Hamilton and
Toronto and won two Grey Cups, Ken Evraire along with former player and
current Saskatchewan defensive line coach Mike Walker.
Mitch McCoy, a Grade 12 student who played with the Blues of New
Brunswick High School Football League this past season and is slated to
play university football with the Ottawa Gee Gee's next fall , was
impressed with the caliber of former players who were on hand with their
"The school is super excited as you can see," McCoy said.
"Just to have that experience in our school is pretty huge.".
McCoy would love for the Atlantic region to land a CFL franchise.
"If this is right in your backyard, you can get that experience
and it can inspire people to go to university for football," he
The CFL delegation also included Moncton resident Jan Carinci.
Carinici played ten seasons in the CFL with Toronto and British
Columbia, suiting up in three Grey Cups and winning one. He is active in
the Touchdown Atlantic event.
"If you had of told me in 2001 when we first moved here if there
was ever going to be a regular season CFL game played anywhere in
Atlantic Canada, I would have said you are a little crazy," he
Carinci said Moncton has pursued CFL football aggressively for the
last several years. He said it would be nice for the city to secure a
long-term, three year contract from the league.
He expects once a team is re-established and operating in Ottawa by
2013, the league will seriously look at putting a team somewhere in
"It would be really nice if Halifax's corporate world would
start looking at this event as a pan-Atlantic region event, not just a
Moncton event," he said. "When the CFL does come, the team to
be successful has to be Atlantic Canadian. It would be nice if they
started paying attention to it a little bit more.".
Carinci feels the league is doing the right things with outreach to
Atlantic Canada saying that is strategy in how the CFL sells itself in
current member cities.
"If you are thinking about where the team will be located in the
Atlantic region, you have to have your players stay in your community
during the off-season. That is when you are developing relationships
with your fans. Look at school visits, basketball games against high
school teams, anti-bullying and anti-drug programs that further
establishes that relationship."
Leo Ezerins, the executive director of the CFL Alumni Association,
said it would be nice to have a 10-team league across the country. He
said this trip is an opportunity to see how football is important to
"We need to build at the grass roots instead of just plunking
down a team. While people would be interested in the CFL, whoever comes
in here you want to make sure it will be sustainable".
"We want people connecting with the Canadian Football League and
putting a face on it. You guys are close to the U.S. and there is a huge
NFL influence. It is hard to follow the B.C. Lions when the games start
at 11 or 11:30 at night here."
The delegation is also speaking with groups in Sussex, Hampton,
Riverview and Blacks Harbour.
They are also supporting a football camp being held at the Canada
Games Stadium in Saint John this week as part of Prokids, a program
aimed at helping children who cannot afford to play sports. It is
spearheaded by Riverview resident Darin Burns who attended five CFL
training camps and played in two league games. He connected with former
Hamilton teammates to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the team's Grey
Last year's initial edition of Touchdown Atlantic featured the
Toronto Argonauts facing the Edmonton Eskimos in a game played in a
festive atmosphere before a sellout crowd of 20,725 fans. Tickets sold
out in a mere 32 hours for the game, won 24-6 by the Eskimos,