Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons knows the Toronto Argonauts have a tough hill to climb but he has made a full commitment to help turn things around.
With Toronto dropping to 2-12 on the season after an embarrassing 55-8 loss to the B.C. Lions, general manager Jim Popp was relieved of his duties with Clemons replacing him as the 20th GM in team history.
Clemons says he was reluctant to take on the GM job when he was approached by team president Bill Manning on two occasions, as he was more than content with his role as an ambassador. But eventually, with the team continuing to struggle to get results on the field, the 54-year-old couldn’t stand by anymore.
“I didn’t want to do it… this is not a preferred position for me. I would prefer Jim Popp to be our GM,” Clemons said on Prime Time Sports.
“I would prefer us to be 12-2, not 2-12. But the facts are the facts and this game is giving me too much and if I have a chance at making an impact here and they asked me to do so I should do it because a lot of what I enjoy today is because of this country, this game and this team.”
It has been a tough couple of years for the Argonauts, who followed up their Grey Cup win in 2017 with a 4-14 season that saw the dismissal of head coach Marc Trestman. What Clemons is looking to do is bring in people that can help contribute to a new winning culture.
The team has also struggled to bring in fans to BMO Field and when asked if another championship can help build some excitement, the four-time Grey Cup winner (three as a player, once as a coach) believes it’s not that simple.
“What we need to do is to win consistently. And that’s what we haven’t done,” said Clemons on being a more attractive product both on and off the field. “We’ve won the Grey Cup but we’ve had these really big ups and downs. Really, it’s finding our way to being a more consistent team during [this] process.”
With four games left in the season, Clemons wants to use this time to find out what the team has to work with going forward and move on from there. The team will likely try to make some moves ahead of the trade deadline on Oct. 9.
The other decision to be made is how the team will proceed at the quarterback position going forward with James Franklin, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Zach Collaros all free agents at the end of the season.