CFL’s ‘Don’ passes on
Legendary Hall of Famer won 5 Grey Cups as head coach
They called him “The Don,’’ and with good reason. A larger-thanlife character with a sharp wit who thrived in the spotlight, Don Matthews took wicked pleasure in keeping people around him on edge with his abrasive, nononsense style.
The Hall of Famer, who died Wednesday at the age of 77, was one of the most prolific coaches in CFL history with 231 wins and 10 Grey Cup titles on his resumé, including five won as a head coach.
But he was also a controversial figure who had a high-risk, high-reward philosophy. Players loved suiting up for him because of his reputation for creating a winning atmosphere and protecting his athletes. During the regular season, Matthews’ teams rarely hit during practice and he routinely allowed his players to participate in creating the weekly game plan.
Yet he maintained his distance. While known for being a “player’s coach,’’ he could also be ruthless when it came to making tough personnel decisions.
“It’s that balance and to do that you must be brilliant,’’ said running back/slotback Mike (Pinball) Clemons, who won two Grey Cups over three seasons playing for Matthews in Toronto.
Matthews was also brutally honest, a trait reporters covering his teams knew well as he would call them out publicly for asking what he deemed to be an inappropriate question. Matthews spent 22 seasons as a CFL head coach with B.C., Baltimore, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. mike Clemons on matthews’ coaching style
It’s that balance and to do that you must be brilliant.