Michael Clemons – General Manager
On October 8, 2019, Michael Clemons returned to the Argonauts in a new role. On that date, the man who had done virtually everything for the Argos was named the 20th general manager in team history.
Clemons arrived in Canada from Dunedin, Florida for the first time in 1989 after stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Shortly thereafter he acquired the nickname “Pinball” from head coach Bob O’Billovich. It was in reference to the way the diminutive running back was bouncing off would-be tacklers.
Before his playing career ended, he would carry the football for more yards than any player in CFL history. His final total was 25,438 combined yards: 5,341 rushing, 7,015 receiving, 6,349 kickoff return, 6,025 punt return, and 708 on missed field goals.
He’d win Grey Cups with the Argos as a player in 1991, 1996 and 1997, before retiring midway through the 2000 season. He was asked to replace John Huard as the head coach for the last half of the season. Clemons made his head coaching debut in the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton on September 4, before returning to the lineup in a player/coach capacity for two games, including his final CFL game on September 15.
Clemons would coach the team for the remainder of the 2000 season, and the full 2001 campaign. He’d return a dozen games into the 2002 season after a 4-8 start by the team and would remain in that position until the end of 2007.
During that time span he’d win his fourth Grey Cup ring as an Argo, leading the team to the 2004 championship as their head coach. Clemons finished with 55 regular season coaching wins, second in team history, behind only the man that gave him his nickname.
He would serve as the Argos President 2001-02, Chief Executive Officer 2007-08, and Vice-Chair from 2009-2019, where he’d win two more Grey Cup rings, giving him a total of six.
The fan favourite would win his seventh Grey Cup – his first as a General Manager – in 2022. Clemons’ record in Grey Cup games in an unblemished 7-0.
He would be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2008, and into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame a year later. In 2016 he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He was also been named to the Order of Ontario in 2001. In 2013 he was awarded The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
His number 31 has been retired, one of just four Argonauts to have received that honour. Clemons was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 1990. He won the CFLPA’s Tom Pate Award twice, in recognition of his contributions on the field and in the community.
In 2007 he and his wife Diane founded the Pinball Clemons Foundation, where the goal is to empower youth through education. The foundation is responsible for the construction of a hospital in Uganda, over 200 schools in seven countries, a pair of orphanages in Haiti, awarded almost 200 scholarships, and provided kids with mentors, and opportunities to attend summer camp.
Clemons is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where he received a degree in economics.
Michael and Diane Clemons have been married since 1992 and are the parents of three daughters, Rachel, Raven and Rylie, all of whom were born in Canada. Michael officially became a Canadian citizen in 2015.
2019-Present: Toronto Argonauts, General Manager
2009-19: Toronto Argonauts, Vice Chair
2007-08: Toronto Argonauts, Chief Executive Officer
2002-07: Toronto Argonauts, Head Coach
2001-02: Toronto Argonauts, President
2000-01: Toronto Argonauts, Head Coach
1989-2000: Toronto Argonauts, Player
1988: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Player
1987: Kansas City Chiefs, Player