Len Rhodes: No Specific Reason

Discussion in 'CFL League Talk' started by Bronko, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Bronko

    Bronko Member

    May 5, 2012
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    Here's a fabulous article from the Edmonton Sun, mostly about the Eskies woes, but specifically how Len Rhodes, the Edmonton CEO reacts to his mis-handling of the Tilman firing.....FABULOUS!!!!!

    The timing is interesting.

    While the 100th Grey Cup festival roars on a blocked off Front Street in front of the Intercontinental Hotel, on the day before Ricky Ray leads the Toronto Argos in the Grey Cup game, Len Rhodes, the rookie CEO of the Edmonton Eskimos, will sit down with the Nervous Nine board of directors here.

    They will decide how to proceed to find the successor to the recently fired Eric Tillman, the man who made arguably the worst trade in CFL history.

    Because of the Ray trade, the Eskimos have almost been like the third team involved in this Grey Cup. And now, with this, obviously it's going to be that way right up to kickoff.

    Rhodes, who hadn't spoken in public or given an interview since the fiasco of a press conference to fire Tillman, revealed the details of the board meeting on the eve of the event in a wide-sweeping exclusive interview with your correspondent.

    "We're going to decide the process of hiring a new GM," he said, and suggested there will likely be big-picture conversations "about the entire football ops model" as well as "remaining relevant in the community" and "restoring the pride and passion" of the Eskimos.

    Rhodes absolutely guaranteed the one thing you can count on is that Kavis Reed will play a huge role in the Eskimos organization going forward.

    "I want Kavis to be part of the long-term future of this football club. Kavis has assured me that he's still very much committed to the organization and the community.

    "Kavis walks the talk. He's just a fabulous person," he said of the former Eskimos player in the '90s who was an assistant coach for a decade with various teams in the league and never moved his family away from Edmonton.

    Rhodes said he "would not support" two roles for Reed as GM and coach, and that his preference would be for Reed "to be 100%" the coach. He said there's no question the way the players on the team feel about him as coach, as evidenced by the testimonial offered by J.C. Sherritt in accepting the most outstanding defensive award Thursday.

    Reed said having head coach Reed there to save the day in so many ways has been a godsend in attempting to fix so much of the mess left behind by Tillman, in the transition period for finding the successor to the man who traded away Ricky Ray.

    With Tillman leaving 14 unsigned free-agent starters, most of them on defence, Rhodes said Reed has "already been tapping players on the shoulders" to get reassurances of their desire to return.

    Rhodes confirmed that Reed's recent revelation to your agent that he was very vocal in his opposition to trading Ricky Ray in the meeting with Tillman, outgoing CEO Rick LeLacheur and himself 11 days into the job.

    And he added more detail to the deal.

    "What hasn't come out is the fact I delayed it five days. I was at the CFL meetings in Las Vegas. Eric wanted to pull the trigger immediately. Eric said he was the GM and had never been questioned and if you have hired somebody with his reputation and history of successes, you let him do the job. Kavis remained very vocal not to do the trade. But Eric said 'I will be responsible and hold myself responsible.' "

    Rhodes said he wants the Eskimos fan base to know he's well aware he totally blew it at the fiasco of a press conference involving the firing of Eric Tillman in which, unbelievably, he said he made the move for "no reason" and, given several chances to rephrase, kept repeating "no specific reason." He said it was a misguided attempt to take the high road.

    "That press conference was a low point," he said.

    "It was a very poor choice of words. I admit that. I said 'no specific reason.' Quite obviously there were a significant number of reasons."

    The former Molson executive, who became available for the Eskimos job when he was fired from the position of heading up the global headquarters and operations of Reebok-CCM Hockey, said it was the first time he had to fire anyone in such a public way before.

    "I was thinking only about the human being and how it's tough enough to go through being released without a press conference two hours later to throw salt in the wounds.

    "I learned the lesson that we're a community-owned franchise, and that our fans want to know and deserve to know the reasons for making those kind of decisions," he said.

    He admitted that his repeated insistence that the reason for firing Tillman was strictly "because as leader of the Edmonton Eskimos, Eric didn't fit my vision of the future" didn't come close to covering it.

    "The truth is that there were a series of distractions all year long," said Rhodes, admitting what he avoided at the press conference. Things had become so un-Eskimo-like on the football ops floor that it got insane with the amount of work the head coach was having to do, dealing with duties which were supposed to be handled by the general manager.

    "There was a sloppiness in registering players all year long, which was causing problems with the league from week to week until the league, to finally make the point, fined us $1,000."

    He said it didn't just happen the once. It happened again and again.

    "Because we were the Edmonton Eskimos and historically have set an example, they didn't make an issue out of it, out of respect for the club. When they finally fined us, we could hardly make a case we didn't deserve it."

    The Eskimos had several people leave the organization during the season and Rhodes said that one of them, Ryan Wagner, who was involved with most of the paperwork dealings with the league office, listed "the environment under Eric as the reason he left."

    Rhodes said a big factor in the decision was that Tillman, after he was given the job, didn't move to Edmonton but remained in Regina, where he was previously the general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

    "Eric and I had numerous conversations on the topic of relocating and how important that is on a community-owned team. You need the general manager to be living in Edmonton and actually participating in the community. He said he was not comfortable with doing that. We agreed to review it at the end of the season."

    Rhodes also said Tillman working out of his office in his home in Regina or in Mississippi was only part of it.

    "It was Eric's attendance at road games, too. He only went to one road game all year, the one here in Toronto. When you lose five in a row, like we did this year, you want your general manager to be there for your coach.

    "We lost confidence in Eric. The breaking point for me, personally, was when he traded our first-round draft choice for kicker Brody McKnight in the middle of the night, without any consultation whatsoever. I found out in the morning when I opened my e-mail."
  2. deuvl

    deuvl Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 14, 2012
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    AC is a free agent, might the bombers or eskimos wish to pursue him to bring a little stability to the QB position while they prepare the next one? it would take a lot of incentive though.
  3. iso_55

    iso_55 Member

    May 1, 2012
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    Tillman deserves to be thrown under the bus & be road kill.
  4. Bronko

    Bronko Member

    May 5, 2012
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    The road just called - they don't want Tilman anywhere near them!:D

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