…and shank it
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
With eight losses in their last 10 games (as of this writing the playoff game has not been played yet), the Edmonton Eskimos aren’t exactly the team that springs to mind when one thinks of successful clubs. Possibly with that in mind, the Eskies fired general manager, Eric Tillman ahead of their game against the Argos.
You have to question this move a bit. Despite their horrible record as of late, the Eskimos are in the playoffs. Granted it’s a crossover berth, it’s still an accomplishment. Tillman certainly hasn’t put together an all-star team, but they’re by no means the doormats of the league. Regardless of what one thinks of Tillman’s performance, the timing is a little curious. Firing your GM right before the playoffs? You’d think the message the organization is trying to send here, is that regardless of what the team manages to pull off in the post-season, his performance this year has been subpar and unacceptable. But apparently not. President and CEO Len Rhodes said that Tillman was fired for “no specific reason.” Well, that, or he hired a new babysitter.
I love the firing, if only for all the storylines it’s brought up. All the conspiracy theories swirling about Tillman are absolutely hilarious, with none being unrealistic. My favourite involves Tillman being hired in Toronto. With head coach Scott Milanovich recently re-signed to a new contract, and current GM Jim Barker left to sit on his final year, the rumour may not be too far from the truth. The best part of the theory though, is that this plan has been in place for some time now. And suddenly the Ricky Ray trade makes sense.
I don’t know a single CFL fan who didn’t scratch a deep hole into his head when the trade was announced. Another QB, a kicker, and a draft pick? Maybe it looks better when you stick the names in: Steven Jyles, Grant Shaw, and a first round draft pick. The poor Eskies got fleeced. A never-was quarterback, a kicker (enough said), and an all-important first round pick. Quite possibly, this is the only trade in history where foresight and hindsight are 20/20. Jyles hasn’t worked out at all. Shaw has been average. And lastly, this isn’t the NFL, so first rounders don’t mean nearly as much.
So, is there any weight to the rumour? Probably not, but it’s comforting to know that in some crazy universe, that trade wasn’t without reason. As for Tillman, his firing is as much a head-scratcher as his unbelievable trade. One thing’s for sure though: he’ll be back. Franchise quarterbacks, beware.