Face of the franchise. Argos Mike “Pinball” Clemons speaks at Media Day.


If there’s a smile that could warm up the coldest day in the prairies, it has to come from the Toronto Argonauts general manager, Mike “Pinball ” Clemons.

The affectionate smile was on full display Thursday, as Pinball and the rest of the Toronto Argonauts took part in the media day activities as a part of Grey Cup Week.

The last two seasons for the Argos have been a success on the field with back to back first place finishes in the CFL’s Eastern Division following a cancelled season in 2020.

Clemons says the COVID pandemic really affected the organization off the field.

“In Toronto we do have an older fan base, so we do need more young people in the stands, but when they come, they absolutely love it.”

Pinball believes as the world continues to move on from the pandemic, the on field product will be a big reason for a revival.

“Those two things have laid a platform now for MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment) to unleash all of their power and the things at their disposal and helps us continue to grow to make this happen. ”

Clemons has assumed a variety of roles for the Argos following his playing days. He began his second stint as general manager in 2019.

It’s very special to have a figure like Clemons as the face of the franchise says running back AJ Ouelette.

“When I got up here in 2019, the season wasn’t going so well, I think I was here for the last five games, we ended up having a closing meeting, I don’t know who announced him as the new general manager, but right away he started giving gifts to players, if it was your first CFL touchdown he was giving you a plaque, he was giving you the ball, he was saying everything that he was going to do for us and that’s what he has done, everything he has done has been for the players.”

Before the cancelled 2020 season, Ryan Dinwiddie was hired as head coach of the Argos. The former quarterback spent time with the Montreal Alouettes as an offensive quality coach, before becoming the quarterbacks coach for the Calgary Stampeders in 2016.

A big reason that Dinwiddie is a successful coach according to Clemons, is because coaching is something the former QB has been around coaching all of his life, since his father was a football coach as well.

The Argonauts G.M. recalls a funny story about Dinwiddie when he was very young and attended one of his dad’s practice.

“He (Dinwiddie) actually got caught in the ball bag, and they were like, what happened, and he actually got zipped up in the ball bag, he crawled into the bag and got zipped up, but a story is well that ends well, right, that could’ve been a bad thing.”

The passion from Dinwiddie was on display when the 2020 CFL season was cancelled according to Pinball at the team’s offices, as the Argos head coach would show up to work everyday by himself since there were heavy restrictions that were in place during the pandemic.

The former Argos running back has focused on the ground game when assembling the team’s roster. The nucleus for Toronto according to Pinball is the team’s offensive lines.

“We had two American offensive linemen that both ended up having season ending injuries and we moved Philip Blake to the tackle position and it turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of our season this year. ”

During his playing days, Clemons was able to utilize his speed on his way to a successful hall of fame career. The Argos currently have a future hall of fame running back in Andrew Harris. Clemons feels that him and Harris have taken different paths towards a successful career.

“By fun I’m called the Pinball, he’s called the wrecking ball.” He continued.

“He makers things explode, when he oh my goodness runs the ball with so much vigor, so much energy, so much passion.”

Along with the explosiveness that Harris contains, Clemons added that athleticism that the running back holds often goes unnoticed.

The pairing of Harris and AJ Ouellette is a perfect partnership in the Toronto backfield according to Pinball.

“When we switched those guys in and out, we expect a similar level of performance.”

When asked if there was anyone currently in the CFL that reminds of Pinball of himself, he gave a modest answer.

“No, they’re all better than me. ”

Even if that’s true, it’s hard to imagine that there is a better person of the field.


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