McManus: Lancaster family 'put me on the right path'

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:19 PM ET

Danny McManus is heading into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame with one legendary coach, but his impending induction made him think of another.

The gunslinger quarterback who played with five CFL teams is part of a group of inductees that includes 10-time Grey Cup champion coach Don Matthews.

But McManus knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of the late Ron Lancaster, who was his head coach with the Edmonton Eskimos (1996-97) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1998-2003).

They won the 1999 Grey Cup together with the Ticats.

“When I got the call from the commissioner, when he gave me the news that I was in the Hall of Fame, Ron Lancaster was the first person I thought of,” McManus said.

“It would have been nice for him to be here and to see the little smile and wink he would have gave on induction day.

“I learned so much from him, not only on the field but off the field. How to carry yourself as a professional but also in the community and how to do the right things.

“I owe a lot to the Lancaster family. They put me on the right path, not only in football but in life in general. It’s one of the things I treasure, the time I spent with him in Edmonton and Hamilton.”

It’s a star-studded group that will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at a Sept. 14-18 in Calgary.

The player inductees are McManus, receiver Terry Vaughn, defensive end Joe Montford, linebacker Ken Lehmann and university quarterback Chris Flynn.

Matthews and Gino Fracas (posthumously) go in the builder’s category.

It’s fitting for Vaughn that the ceremony will be in Calgary. After four 1,000-yard seasons with the Stamps (1995-98), he went on to play with the Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes

Upon finishing his stellar career and holding the all-time receptions record, he retired as a Stampeder in 2007 after signing a one-day contract, saying at the time he should have never left.

He retired holding both the record for catches and 11 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, although Ben Cahoon took the receptions record from him in 2010.

Vaughn, a two-time Grey Cup champion, didn’t mind conceding the mark to Cahoon, his former teammate in 2005 with Montreal.

“It felt great. Records are made to be broken. I had the opportunity to play with Ben,” Vaughn said. “I know what Ben is all about. He’s a great player and a tireless worker.

“I looked forward to it being broken. The fact it was broken by Ben, I was truly happy. He was a great guy and a great teammate. We played once in Montreal but I had admired Ben from afar. Seeing him up close, you could appreciate his talents and just how good he was.”

When Matthews walked away from the Alouettes in 2006, it was due to health problems as anxiety issues kept him from coaching any longer.

“It probably cut a few years off my coaching life, I’m sure of that,” Matthews said. “The anxiety of living that life as a coach sure takes its toll on you.

“Coaching is a draining, draining pressure pot. Nobody puts more pressure on you than you do yourself. Depending on how well you handle it, that’s how long you can stay well and healthy. I stayed healthy and well a long time but it certainly got me in the end.”

Matthews left in 2006 as the all-time coaching leader in wins (since eclipsed by Wally Buono) and with five Grey Cups with three teams as a head coach. He had five more wins as an assistant with Edmonton in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


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