TAMAN READY TO RETURN FROM SELF-IMPOSED EXILE
Former Riders GM finds inner peace but misses the competition
The voice on the other end of the line was unmistakable and bright, as direct as ever and dripping with the sarcasm and dry wit that’s always been his trademark.
Brendan Taman, the GM in hiding, is on the phone from his new home in Courtenay, B.C., on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
The view, like his outlook on life, isn’t anything like the one he had while working in the CFL for three decades.
“I’m 20 minutes from a mountain, I’m 20 minutes to an ocean and I’m seven minutes to an airport,” Taman said in a wideranging chat this week.
“I’m used to condo living downtown, which I don’t mind. But I come out here and it’s like I’m literally right on a golf course.”
His golf game remains in the crapper, for now.
His CFL game remains on hold. Taman has been virtually invisible since he was canned by the Saskatchewan Roughriders 20 months ago.
After doing a couple of interviews soon after being fired on Aug. 31, 2015, the most mediaaccessible executive the league has ever seen had gone radiosilent.
Immersed in the CFL’s two toughest markets, Regina and Winnipeg, for the better part of 17 straight years, Taman removed himself from football, completely, for all of 2016.
He read. He travelled. Went to the Masters, something he’d always dreamed of doing.
Last spring, he spent about a month in Pittsburgh, attending Penguins playoff games as they marched to the Stanley Cup.
“I just took it easy,” Taman said. “I loved it. Those CFL guys were in training camp, cuttin’ guys and all that stuff. I’m going, ‘Ha! I’m having a beer at the Penguins’ Game 3. Too bad. See you later.’
“You’ve got to enjoy it. You can take a negative and turn it into a positive.”
It took a while, though. The last half of that 2015 season, Taman says, was like “living in a fog.”
The annual Winnipeg-Saskatchewan Labour Day Classic, six days after he was fired for the first time in his career, was like an out of body experience.
“I’d been in that Labour Day game since ’99, either Winnipeg or Saskatchewan,” Taman said. “When that game was going on, the planes (fighter jets) were flying, literally, right over my condo where I lived. I’m like, ‘Is this weird?’ It was happening like you were dead.”
Taman made the mistake of staying in Regina for most of the rest of that season.
“It was still like trying to figure out what happened. What should I do? I’d never been through that.”
When the 2016 season approached and he was still without a job, he figured it was time to move on and do something different, “go somewhere and live.”
So he bought his home in Courtenay and began to decompress. He cut the grass. He shovelled snow. He watched deer amble by. Golfers, too. Visited with the neighbours. Travelled.
Fast forward to this past offseason.
“The itch started to come back a little bit, you could say.”
Compounding the itch, GMs were let go in Toronto (Jim Barker), Montreal (Jim Popp) and finally Edmonton, where Ed Hervey’s ego and closed-door policy was his undoing.
The Eskimos called, and Taman packed his bags, put on his 2013 Riders Grey Cup ring, and headed for Edmonton to meet with president/CEO Len Rhodes.
“I had to dust off my resume, get ready, put a suit on for the first time in a few years and go interview,” he said. “As luck turned out, I didn’t get it. But that’s OK. I understand. That’s the way things go.
“I would have been the opposite of Ed.”
All three jobs have been filled, and Taman’s still without gainful employment.
But he’s also at peace.
He’s continued to follow the league and watches most games. He misses the competition. And the people.
He doesn’t miss the egos and some of the more ruthless aspects of a cutthroat business.
But if someone else called about a job, he’d definitely listen.
“If I could help somebody with my experience. Help them win,” he said. “Assistant GM or whatever it may be — whatever the club would need. I mean, I’ve done many ( jobs) in my career, whether it’s scouting or whatever. But it would have to be the right situation and the right organization.
“My ego now is, ‘OK, I’m 50 years old. I don’t have to be a GM to get back in it.’ I’d like to, but if I don’t, hey, stuff happens.”