Remembering 'Pops'

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos lost a good coach yesterday when Joe Faragalli passed away.

Hugh Campbell lost a good friend.

Faragalli, 77, died yesterday at his home in Rhode Island, after battling a lengthy illness.

"He was the type of person who made everyone around him want to be as enthusiastic and passionate as he was," said Campbell, the Eskimos CEO. "From a winning and losing standpoint, he had a lot to do with the Eskimos winning."

FOUR YEARS IN THE ARMY

Faragalli was born in Philadelphia on April 18, 1929. He played college football at the University of Villanova before serving four years with the United States Army.

He began coaching at the high school level in Philadelphia and broke into the CFL as an assistant coach in 1967 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"When I was working with him in Winnipeg, we used to hang out a lot together," Campbell said. "We used to work hard all day, then go out in the evening and have discussions about football and our families."

The two became such good friends, that when Campbell was made head coach of the Esks in 1977, he offered Faragalli a job on his staff. Together, they won three Grey Cups. Campbell went on to win two more as the Esks won five straight from 1978-1982.

"We had a good group with Joe, Cal Murphy and Don Matthews," Campbell said. "We became close friends."

In 1981, Faragalli got his first head coaching job with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He eventually returned to be the Eskimos head coach in 1987. In four years at the helm, Faragalli led the Eskimos to two Grey Cup appearances, winning in 1987.

"I thought he was an excellent coach and a great guy," said former Eskimo quarterback Tom Wilkinson, who played for Faragalli when he was an assistant under Campbell.

KEPT THINGS LOOSE

"In the film room, he usually kept it loose. He wanted you to learn, but at the same time, you weren't just learning about football, you were learning about a bunch of things.

"I talked to him about four months ago, I finally got his number, and just thanked him for all the things he had done for me."

Faragalli (46-24) is the fifth winningest coach in Eskimos' history.


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