CFL Hall blue it again

Argos coach Mike 'Pinball' Clemons is still waiting for his moment to be honoured by the Canadian...

Argos coach Mike 'Pinball' Clemons is still waiting for his moment to be honoured by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (Sun Media File/Stan Behal)

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

The snubbing of Michael (Pinball) Clemons, for the second straight year by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, is clearly an issue of colour.

But this time the colour happens to be Double Blue.

"Pinball Clemons should be in the Hall of Fame, first ballot, period, end of story," Argos president Keith Pelley said. "He should be in the Hall of Fame in two categories, both as player and builder.

"The first day Michael was eligible, this should have been automatic. You have to question why this hasn't happened. It's stunning."

This is what happens when you play for Argo Blue. You wear it and the Hall of Fame renders you and itself irrelevant. This isn't new, it just happens to be getting worse.

Pinball Clemons ran, caught and returned the ball for 25,438 yards in 186 Canadian Football League games. That is, for the record, more yards gained than any player in any league, in history. Just not good enough two years in a row for the 12 who are clearly not colour blind when it comes to old Argonauts.

Shame on Russ Jackson, on Peter Dalla Riva on the ex-Argo Peter Martin and the other voters from across Canada.

Darren Flutie, who didn't wear Double Blue, was elected ahead of Clemons, even if he happens to be 11,000 yards behind him. We are not questioning how Flutie got in -- he deserved it. But ahead of Clemons?

Not a chance.

Clemons changed the teams he played on and the games he played in. You couldn't take your eye off him. He averaged 136 yards a game, 186 times. He won three Grey Cups as a player, one as a coach, breathed life into a franchise that was dead and bankrupt.

Have we missed anything here?

When TSN underwent the ambitious project of determining the Top 50 players of the modern era, Pinball Clemons wound up 31st on the list. Every single Hall of Fame eligible player ahead of him on the list is in the Hall.

Flutie was 50th on that list.

New Hall of Fame members, offensive linemen Rocco Romano and Pierre Vercheval, who both had short stints in Toronto, were not in the Top 50. In Romano's case, he wasn't even listed among 185 players on the ballot.

Nine-time all-star Dan Ferrone, whom Romano backed up in Toronto, didn't make the Hall. Rocco did.

If it was just Clemons or just Ferrone, you could stop there with conspiracy theories. But Dave (Tuffy) Knight, a lovely man, is going to the Hall for his years coaching at Wilfrid Laurier University. Knight is entering in the builder's category. Leo Cahill has already been eliminated as a Hall candidate. Never mind that football in the CFL's toughest market was never more alive, never more in demand, never more in the headlines than in the Cahill years. If that isn't a builder, what is?

No disrespect to Tuffy, but if you compare the impact Cahill had to the impact of Knight had, well, it's like comparing 25,000 yards to 14,000 yards.

"The two best marketers in Argo history are Leo Cahill and Pinball Clemons," Pelley said. "I've had the Leo argument for years and I hear people say he's not in because he didn't win a Grey Cup."

By that definition, Marv Levy would be out because Scott Norwood missed a kick.

But it doesn't stop there with Argo snubs. This has been going on forever.

Dick Thornton, who played offence, defence and quote machine, all at the same time, wasn't only one of the great characters of Canadian football. He was one of the great players. No one has returned more interceptions for touchdowns than him. He's not eligible for the Hall anymore -- because after 25 years of eligibility, his time, like Cahill's, is up.

It's the same for Jim Rountree, who played 10 years in the CFL, seven as an all-star. Somehow the Hall missed him, too. And in a league in which special teams are everything, the greatest punter who ever lived, Hank Ilesic, has been passed over year after year. He won seven Grey Cups and played 11 years in Toronto, did almost everything asked of him.

Except he had a wardrobe problem. Like Pinball Clemons, he wore Double Blue.


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