People know his name. People trust him. People like him.
When it comes right down to it, the people of Toronto love Florida's gift to the Big Smoke!
His name is Michael "Pinball" Clemons and there are some who would love to throw the name mayor in front of that.
Far away from the glare of the football field, there are some heavy-hitting political fixers drooling at the thought of running this guy for office -- and not just for mayor, but maybe provincially or federally too.
Top political strategist Warren Kinsella calls him the hottest name outside of the political ring right now. "A few of us have already been in contact with each other, after the Argo leadership change became public," the country's top political war room guy tells me. "Pinball is an amazing guy. A lot of us -- Liberals, Tories and progressives too -- think he would make a winning mayoralty candidate."
Kinsella, of The Daisy Consulting Group, would know. The author of the new best-selling book, published by Dundurn, called The War Room, talks all about his strategies in helping Jean Chretien win three straight majority governments and how Premier Dalton McGuinty won two.
Kinsella says politically, Pinball has it all. "He's an ideas guy, he's got vision, and he's impossible to dislike," he said. "But the ball is in his hands -- will he run with it? Many of us hope so."
Looks like those political strategists will have to wait. Argos owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon named Pinball as the team's CEO yesterday.
And what was the first thing he did? He answered every question by saying 416-341-ARGO.
In other words, he wants to sell tickets and make the Argos the hottest sports property in town.
"They said I was too small to play," he laughed.
He is an all-time Argo great on his way to the Hall of Fame one day.
They told him he couldn't coach and yet he's the second winningest coach in history -- to go with winning the 2004 Grey Cup. In other words, watch and learn. The Argos are coming. And Pinball is leading them.
Forget mayor, this guy could be king. Oh heck, Pinball Clemons already is Toronto's king!
To think he was originally on his way to Calgary and the Stampeders until at the last minute his rights were traded to the Argos.
"If things had have worked out differently, he could have ended up Calgary's hero instead," assistant managing editor Darren "Woody" McGee, an Argos season ticket holder, says teasingly.
Needless to say the move to Toronto worked out pretty well -- something a person knows when they have a bobble-head doll made of their likeness. It is quite an immigrant story. Inspirational. He's a quality, spiritual family man who was raised well by his mom Ann Bryant and who has a tremendous family life with wife Diane and children Raven, Rylie and Rachel.
He's a movie of the week and every kid growing up in this town in perceived disadvantage should not only aspire to Clemons' approach, but listen to him. "Vision without action is a daydream," Clemons said. "Action without vision is a nightmare."
Sounds like No. 31 is not done yet. The announcement at the Rogers Centre yesterday was to appoint Pinball as Chief Executive Officer of the Argos.
It was also a lesson in what a guy can achieve. He came here in 1989 and all these years later is arguably Toronto's most popular sports personality who won championships on the field and now will take up his brand of leadership in the boardroom.
Stay tuned. Who knows, he may end up one day becoming Toronto's first black mayor -- just as he was football's first black coach to win a title. So with Pinball anything and everything is possible, and everybody seems to be along for the ride as this guy's script continues to be written.
I said to him "maybe one day we'll run you for mayor," to which he said, "I'm running from it."
Dodged it as well as any politician could, but he did acknowledge he had been approached. "I decided to come home," he said, adding his heart is with the Argos.
Loyalty! Another great trait for a future mayor. Ol' Kinsella can smell another victory party to add to his collection. If you ever see those two out for lunch you'll know what it means. The municipal election is still three years away -- plenty of time for Pinball to get Canadian citizenship.
Mayor Pinball Clemons? Lord knows, we could do worse!