A 'tremendous' honour -- Pinball

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

Coaching the Argonauts was a little easier for Don Matthews when he had Doug Flutie and Michael (Pinball) Clemons around.

The years were 1996 and 1997, and with Flutie taking the snaps and Clemons carrying the ball, the Argos won back-to-back Grey Cups with Matthews pacing the sideline.

Flutie, Clemons, Mike Pringle, John Bonk and Tom Shepherd (in the builder category) represent the Canadian Football Hall of Fame class for 2008, and the honour will become official Saturday night in Hamilton when the group is feted at the induction dinner.

"I am delighted for them," Matthews said, referring to Flutie and Clemons. "Without question, it had to happen. It is a special accomplishment. (Flutie) never made his (small stature) an issue and neither did Pinball."

The group has known since early April that it was going to the Hall, but for Clemons it became reality earlier this week when his mother, Anna Bryant, arrived from Florida. A single mother, she instilled in her son a work ethic that carried him to lofty heights in the CFL.

"The sacrifices people made on your behalf, it really hits you," Clemons, now the Argos' CEO, said yesterday. "I can't recall a time that someone else drove me to a football game (when he was a youth)."

Going into the Hall with Flutie, and the others, is a treat for Clemons. Flutie was named the CFL's most outstanding player six times in the 1990s, Pringle twice and Clemons once. Clemons remains the league's leader in combined yards with more than 25,000, while Pringle's 16,425 rushing yards have not been topped.

"For how good I thought he was before I played with him, does not compare to what I understood when I actually did play with him," Clemons said of Flutie.

"Doug was always the kid on the playground. I loved it and enjoyed it, but I do not use my name in the same sentence as his.

"To go in with these guys is tremendous and a wonderful tribute to the MVPs of the 1990s."

Bonk, a centre, had a streak of 202 consecutive games from 1973-85 while playing for Winnipeg.

The inductees will be honoured during halftime of the game between the Tiger-Cats and the Blue Bombers tomorrow night when their Hall of Fame busts are unveiled. Hamilton running back Jesse Lumsden, who had his shoulder injury examined yesterday, probably will not play.


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