Finest Pals. Widespread Adversaries. Mutual Respect: Michael “Pinball” Clemons & Mike O’Shea

Best Friends. Common Adversaries. Mutual Respect: Michael “Pinball” Clemons & Mike O’Shea

They share a primary identify and a terrific legacy with the Toronto Argonauts, but had been adversaries within the 109th Gray Cup. Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Mike O’Shea are two of the preferred Argos in latest reminiscence. Each fan favourites, each had been nice gamers that approached the sport from totally different instructions. Pinball utilized his superb velocity, finesse and willpower whereas O’Shea’s recreation was predicated on physicality and violence.

A expertise out of Dunedin, Florida – Pinball started his profession with the Nationwide Soccer League’s Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. He spent one season within the NFL, predominately as a punt returner earlier than becoming a member of the Argos in 1989.

Identified for his diminutive measurement and powerful steadiness, Pinball contributed to creating some key performs throughout his taking part in days with the Double Blue as a working again and receiver, whereas starring on particular groups. His distinctive expertise twice led him to set the CFL single-season all-purpose yards document in 1990 (3,300 yards) and once more in 1997, with a then document of three,840 all-purpose yards.

Successful the CFL’s Most Excellent Participant Award in 1990, Clemons went on to seize three Gray Cup championships, successful in 1991 and later contributing to back-to-back championships in 1996 & 1997 on the powerhouse Doug Flutie led squads.

Transitioning from a participant to a head coach, Pinball first captained the ship in 2000. Identified for his management qualities and team-first mentality teaching fashion, Pinball guided the Damon Allen led Argos to a championship in 2004.

Eight years later Pinball discovered himself in an advisory function when the Ricky Ray led Argos received the 100th Gray Cup, capturing the trophy in entrance of the hometown trustworthy. It was one other rollercoaster 5 years till the Double Blue recaptured the grand prize within the 105th Gray Cup in 2017.

Pinball was employed because the GM to carry the franchise again to prominence in October 2019. Constructing a brand new tradition, Clemons revamped the roster and employed head coach, Ryan Dinwiddie. The end result was a turnaround that noticed the Argos come up one recreation in need of the massive recreation in 2021.

The earlier season’s loss motivated Pinball to proceed to improve the roster.

Starting with a rollercoaster begin to the 2022 marketing campaign, Toronto put collectively a second half run, successful seven of the ultimate 9 matches to complete 11-7 and seize the East Division – finally prevailing over rival Montreal Alouettes within the Jap Closing to punch their ticket to the 109th Gray Cup.

Mike O’Shea has an analogous story when it comes to contributing to the Argos. Generally known as “Osh”, he performed with Pinball for 4 seasons and later discovered himself coached by Clemons.

Chosen by Edmonton within the 1993 CFL Canadian Faculty Soccer Draft, Mike O’Shea was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats the place he performed for 3 seasons. The linebacker departed the Hammer as a free agent to staff up with Pinball and the Argos previous to the 1996 marketing campaign.

Identified for his tough-minded, gritty character – O’Shea was a fierce competitor on the sphere. His psychological toughness and aggressive taking part in fashion gave him a management function on the defensive facet of the ball through the Argos 1996 & 1997 Gray Cup championship victories.

The North Bay native returned to the Argos for a second stint in 2001. Together with his buddy Pinball now sporting the headset, O’Shea captained the Double Blue defence for the subsequent eight seasons. Most notably, he turned the primary Canadian and third participant in CFL historical past to document 1,000 profession tackles.

Named to the All-Time Argos Staff in 2007, he hung up his Double Blue uniform in 2009 and retired with essentially the most sacks and tackles by a Canadian in CFL historical past.

Transitioning into teaching, O’Shea spent 4 seasons with the Double Blue as a Particular Groups Coordinator, successful the 100th Gray Cup in 2012. His philosophy and gritty mindset he as soon as had on the sphere could be practiced when O’Shea landed the top teaching job for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2014.

After rebuilding the group and altering the tradition, O’Shea turned Winnipeg into an elite championship contender, having made the playoffs every of the previous six seasons.

On the time the Bombers had the longest lively Gray Cup drought within the CFL. O’Shea guided the Bombers on an historic run in 2019, successful each playoff recreation on the highway, then capturing the franchise’s first Gray Cup since 1990.

With the 2020 season cancelled, Winnipeg had the additional yr to arrange for a championship run, benefitting from a shortened 2021 marketing campaign – finally culminating in a Gray Cup time beyond regulation thriller – changing into the primary staff to seize back-to-back Gray Cups for the reason that 2009-2010 Montreal Alouettes.

O’Shea’s 2022 Bombers put collectively a juggernaut offensive unit and defensive corps, cruising to a 15-3 common season document, establishing a Gray Cup for the ages between two legends who as soon as shared the sphere collectively.

Earlier within the season, the 2 groups met at BMO Subject on July 4th, the place the Argos fell a missed conversion in need of tying the sport, giving the Bombers a wild 23-22 win.

On a chilly night time in Regina, Saskatchewan – Mosaic Stadium turned recognized for internet hosting essentially the most thrilling end in latest Gray Cup reminiscence; two blocked kicks, one champion.

Within the heartland of CFL Soccer, Pinball’s Argos had been again within the Gray Cup after a five-year absence, aiming to go 7-0 in Gray Cup appearances since Clemons joined the staff. On the latter, O’Shea’s powerhouse Bombers, had been in search of to win a uncommon third straight title and set up a dynasty.

The 2 shut pals become adversaries on Gray Cup Sunday. A back-and-forth affair, O’Shea’s teaching fortitude had the Bombers within the lead within the last quarter. Pinball’s management and staff chemistry mindset bought the final snigger because the Double Blue fought and rallied to take a one-point lead, which culminated within the protection making key interceptions and a blocked subject objective that sealed Pinball’s Argos a Gray Cup title, denying O’Shea’s Bombers of an historic three-peat.

With the 2023 marketing campaign approaching, Pinball’s Argos and O’Shea’s Bombers will sq. off for a Gray Cup rematch for a Friday Evening Soccer showdown on September 29th.

The Argos have fun their 150th anniversary for the upcoming season and will likely be on a mission to seize back-to-back championships on the 110th Gray Cup in Hamilton.