Argos GM: Adam Rita

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

His work space these days is a cluster of industrial quality trailers in suburban Mississauga, hardly a match for the Shangri-la scenery of his homeland.

But in his style, attire and approach to his profession, Adam Rita has stayed true to his Hawaiian roots. If it seems as though the Argos general manager and vice-president of football operations has been around the CFL forever, the exaggeration is only minimal.

When the 2008 season kicks off for the Argos next summer, it will be 25 years since he first landed in three-down football.

Over that quarter century, Rita has become an astute evaluator of both the nuances of the Canadian game and the type of player it takes to be successful here.

He has won six Grey Cups with four different teams in a variety of different roles. He may be old school, but in a league that seems to require it, apparently that works.

"What I love about Adam is you get an honest answer," Argos co-owner David Cynamon said of the man he hired in 2004. "There's no B.S. -- he tells you the way it is, not what you want to hear but what you need to hear." Rita always has been seen as a great company man by those who employ him. He can be a peacemaker within the organization, a people person who can be a voice of calm and reason when it is required.

If the owners want to bring in a Ricky Williams, for example, Rita will find a way to make it work, even if he might not believe it's the right move.

And even if it means suggesting the playing days of a legend may be numbered, as he inadvertently did with quarterback Damon Allen this past season, so be it.

"Don't let his personality and those Hawaiian shirts he wears all the time fool you," one veteran CFL team executive said of Rita. "If he needs to be the tough guy, Adam can do that, even if he knows conflict and rift within the organization can be one of the consequences. But he's just as good at pulling things together."

Unlike baseball, where J.P. Ricciardi and his staff must monitor thousands of players at every level, the size of the talent pool for CFL evaluators is much more manageable.

That doesn't necessarily make it any easier, however.

Which is why Rita and sidekick/assistant GM Greg Mohns leave no stone unturned both in the pros and college ranks.

If there is a player on an NCAA roster who has his Canadian citizenship papers, you can bet the pair has scouted him. It has worked well in recent years, almost too much so.

The Argos knew they had a good one in Brantford native Nick Kaczur and made him a first-round pick in the 2005 CFL draft. Trouble was, someone on Bill Belichick's New England staff saw the same thing and Kaczur is now a starting guard helping protect Patriots QB Tom Brady.

At least as vital is the ability to find import players with a unique mind-set and skill-set.

On offence, Rita has yet to make his mark. When hired by the Argos in 2003, he pegged the struggles on that side of the ball as a priority. Struggles and flux at quarterback have created frustration for a team that could have been dominant in recent seasons with a reasonable offence.

In any event, Argos ownership isn't about to lose faith now.

"I don't know any of the other management styles (of other Toronto GMs), but I know what we've got," Cynamon said.

"He has unbelievable integrity and knowledge of the Canadian game and has great organizational skills. For me, he's the best GM in the country."

GETTING TO KNOW ADAM

Born: Sept. 21, 1947

Highlights: Started in the CFL in 1983 as offensive co-ordinatorwith the B.C. Lions ... Led Argos to Grey Cup in 2004, his first year as GM ... Was coach of the year in 1991 when he led the Boatmen to another title.


Videos

Photos