The board is on board.
The board of directors of the Edmonton Eskimos, QMI Agency has learned, is on board with the hiring of Eric Tillman as the new general manager of the Edmonton Eskimos.
Tillman will be announced as the fourth general manager of the Eskimos in more than 40 years at a 10:30 a.m. press conference this morning at the Jackie Parker room in Commonwealth Stadium.
This is the most dicey decision the board of directors has had to make since they were the Nervous Nine and all had their money on the line in the 1960s.
The board of directors represents the community.
It’s a community-owned franchise. And there’s more to answer to here than a 2-8 football team needing somebody to replace Danny Maciocia as GM and getting the team back on track.
Tillman was forced to resign as GM of the community-owned Saskatchewan Roughriders after being given an absolute discharge without criminal record after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting his children’s teenaged babysitter.
The Eskimos, for the first time in their history, have a female on the board in Diane Brickner. Chairman Doug Goss has two daughters. Several others have daughters and grand daughters, coached girls sports teams and been on boards of organizations involving youth.
If they’ve done their due diligence and come to the conclusion that circumstances involving Tillman’s case were such that he could come to Edmonton, and that they are comfortable he could become a good role model for the community and have a second chance in life, I think you have to believe they’re doing so as citizens representing citizens.
This is the city that gave Craig MacTavish a second chance after serving his sentence for vehicular manslaughter and saw him become a solid citizen, as captain and later as coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
It’s not the same thing. Tillman didn’t get a sentence. But he’s been serving it.
Since the story was broken by QMI Agency last Tuesday that Tillman had become the favourite for the job, and now that the story is that Eskimos are expected to introduce Tillman as GM as early as today, there’s been feedback. I’m sure Goss, Harold Roosen, Bruce Bentley, William Scott, Brickner, Allan Sawin, Terry O’Flynn, John Moquin and Larry Pollock were getting some of the same sort of calls and e-mails which have been coming to your corespondent.
• “I’m sad to see you didn’t take the opportunity to take a stand against a man who sexually assaulted a minor as it’s the kind of behaviour that takes a whole community to defeat.”
• “Whatever fans we all are of the football team in our community, we are a much bigger fan of the children in the community ... The Eskimos used to be a class organization that everyone in the league modeled themselves after.”
• “Here is a man that admits to sexually assaulting a teenager and a football team like Edmonton that has a great public image as a community, family-orientated team even considers hiring such a person. If this happens, the Eskimos have lost my support and respect. This shows us that even though the team is suffering this year, there is a deeper illness in the organization.”
For the board to be on board with making the decision to go forward and negotiate and sign Tillman to a contract, means they’ve all done their homework, weighed the above serious and significant reactions out there, searched their souls and all wrestled with this and the reactions of others, including many in Regina, where Tillman and family still live.
It’s my information that they’ve had frank discussions with members of the Roughriders board who visited here as a group for the Aug. 28 game against Saskatchewan.
The football decision is easy. Clearly Tillman is the best football man available. The other decision is much more difficult.
But the board is on board, and I think the Eskimos will be bringing in a man who will be so thankful for their support and the clean slate to have a second chance at life, that he’ll go out of his way to contribute to the community and work as hard as he can as a general manager to take this team back to the top, to pay them off for that.