June 6, 2012
Guest Esks' good-luck charmTillman's old roommate helps out at camp
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Tom Rossley’s time with the Edmonton Eskimos was short, but the hope is it will leave a lasting impression.
Like it did back in 2007, when general manager Eric Tillman brought him in as a guest coach in the Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp before they went on to win the Grey Cup.
But even if it doesn’t, the Eskimos can only benefit from the experience of a coach the calibre of Rossley, who is best known for his time as the Green Bay Packers offensive co-ordinator.
“That probably was the most fun,” said Rossley, who was there from 2000-05. “We had a lot of wins and it was fun being up there working with Brett (Favre) and working with the Packers.
“It’s a great community and a great organization and any time you win a lot of games, it’s fun.”
Rossley’s coaching career began in 1990 as quarterbacks coach of the Atlanta Falcons and includes six seasons as head coach of a Southern Methodist University program reeling from the NCAA’s ‘Death Penalty’ punishment. Since 2008, he has been the senior assistant and QB coach at Texas A&M.
“He and I have been very close friends through the years,” Tillman said as Rossley wrapped up his last day at Eskimos training camp on Tuesday. “Hopefully he can be our good-luck charm again.”
The two were actually roommates back when their careers were getting underway.
“It goes way, way back to the ‘80s in Montreal. We had some good, young coaches back then,” Rossley said. “Wally Buono was just getting started in coaching, and George Cortez, Dave Ritchie was back there then. We just had a bunch of old coaches who did pretty good jobs in their careers.”
As for 2007 ...
“I was there as a guest coach for (Tillman’s) first year in Saskatchewan. They went on to win the Grey Cup,” Rossley said. “I had nothing to do with them winning the Grey Cup.
“I hope it works out again, too. It looks like a good team. The coaches are doing a good job, they’re flying around and I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm and that’s what it takes to win.”
Rossley has done his fair share of developing football’s rising stars, as well.
“We had a real good quarterback come up this year, Ryan Tannehill, whom I coached and he ended up being the first pick of the Miami Dolphins,” Rossley said of the eighth-overall selection in the NFL draft. “He’s an outstanding player, I’m proud of him. I hope he does real well.”
But there is a difference in coaching college players and pros.
“It’s fun to coach guys in college and then it’s fun to coach them when they don’t have any classes to worry about, they just worry about winning,” said Rossley, who was offered a head coaching job by Tillman in his first season as a CFL general manager with the B.C. Lions in 1993. “I flew up and interviewed with the owner of the Lions here in Edmonton. Everything went well and I thought I was going to come up here.”
But family ties kept him in Texas, where he continues to live, eat and breath football.
“I just finished up at A&M. We won our bowl game at the end of the year, we beat Northwestern,” said Rossley, who has since been spending time at his lake house with the grandchildren. “I’m just kind of enjoying life and coming to some training camps like this.
“I just like football and being around it. Maybe it’s going to be fun just being a fan instead of a coach.”