From: Argonauts Client Services email@example.com
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 12:09 PM
Subject: Letter to Argos Season Ticket Holders from Jim Barker
Since being hired in 2010, it has been my personal and professional goal to put a team on the field of which Toronto Argonauts fans can truly be proud. Every decision made has been made with the vision of winning Grey Cups at the forefront. We have put together a group of professionals that are committed to this goal and I ask you, our loyal fans, to band with us and become a part of our army as we set out to once again achieve competitive greatness and bring the Grey Cup home to Toronto.
This past year was very difficult for all of us. I can assure you that we have worked diligently to overcome whatever obstacles that may lie ahead in the coming year. We have a unique situation here in Toronto and the challenges we face will make this season’s successes that much sweeter. While this market and team are special, all of us in this organization are proud to be a part of the oldest and most storied professional sports franchise in North America. I am blessed to be surrounded by a group of people, including fans, who believe in what we are doing and are committed to being better than the rest regardless of the situation.
In spite of the challenges we faced last year, we were one win away in Week 17 from again winning our Division and hosting the Eastern Final. We understand fully that missing the playoffs is not acceptable and our front office, coaches and players have worked tirelessly this off-season to make sure none of us go through the pain of watching other teams play in games meant for us this year.
When the 2015 regular season begins there will be so much different than last year. We will be at our fulltime practice facility, with coaches’ offices, at Downsview Park from day one. We anticipate holding training camp again at York University so that there will be a sense of familiarity for players and coaches. Our practices are always open to the public and we encourage you to check the schedule and come out whenever you can. Our players draw energy from the support they get from you. Again, this is OUR team and I will always be around to answer questions you may have about what is happening with our team.
While we endure another long road trip this year to start the season, the coaching staff is working hard to make sure we turn this into an advantage. One thing I can assure you, which you have witnessed over the past 4 years, is that our players and coaches do not make excuses and they will find a way to use this trip as a tool to solidify our Club for the long season. We expect our veteran players such as Chad Owens and Andre Durie to be healthy and ready to lead a number of new players in training camp this year that we’re particularly excited to watch make our team. Every year, in this salary cap world, you will see a 25% to 35% turnover in roster composition which puts pressure on our scouting staff to provide players that our coaches can work with and that fit our scheme.
Our organizational philosophy is to build our club through the draft and solid scouting – not free agency. We made trades to acquire Ricky Ray and Chad Owens, and have signed very few players through free agency. Our goal, as always, was to hold on to as many of our key free agents as we could. While we lost a couple of players we couldn’t afford to keep, the re-signing of Tyler Holmes, Jarriel King and Curtis Steele were key moves for us this year. Near the end of last season we signed Canadian linebacker Cory Greenwood, whom we drafted in 2010, and we expect him to be a player that will step in and be ready to lead our defence. The signing of Greenwood allowed us to make the trade with Saskatchewan to bring home veteran DE Ricky Foley, a three-time Grey Cup winner who is still among the best rush ends in the league, a native Torontonian and a man that truly loves being a Toronto Argonaut. His experience and leadership will also help many of our younger players on defence mature and understand what it takes to win in a big way.
Our young Canadians drafted in the past few years are now ready to step up and we feel our core Canadian talent is second to none in the CFL. In addition to national stalwarts Andre Durie, Ricky Foley, Chris Van Zeyl, Cory Greenwood, and special teams standouts James Yurichuk and Matt Black, former East Division Most Outstanding Lineman Jeff Keeping, veterans Wayne Smith and Mike Bradwell, and newly signed Tyler Holmes, we have added bright young prospects such as Jermaine Gabriel, who started most of the season at free safety last year, Cleyon Laing, our outstanding young defensive tackle, 2013 first round pick OL Matt Sewell and last year’s first round pick RB Anthony Coombs.
Former third round pick Zander Robinson has become one of the league’s top tight ends while third round WR Natey Adjei, fourth round picks Thomas Miles, Herve Tonye-Tonye and Alexander Dupuis have all shown tremendous ability and proven that they can be contributing members to a championship team. As you can see, the core of our Canadian players has been acquired through the draft and this May we will have the third pick in the 2015 CFL Draft and we will use it to continue to build this football team from the inside.
We are paid to win. Every player, coach and staff member associated with this proud organization understands this. We will continue to focus on gaining your respect as professionals dedicated to achieving at the highest level. We all understand that the only way this level of excellence will be attained is through hard work, sacrifice, belief in one another and true enthusiasm for the task at hand. Together, with a premise of respect and trust for one another, we will achieve competitive greatness and, ultimately, another championship.
I ask you to stand and fight with us as we overcome whatever challenges are in front of us this season. The satisfaction gained will be immense and the knowledge that you were a part of the army every step of the way will be gratifying to you personally as well as appreciated by every other person in the ranks.
I would like each of you to join me for a live Reddit AMA on Wednesday, March 18 where I will answer as many of your questions related to our football team as I can. Watch the Argonauts Facebook and Twitter accounts for the specific time.
Toronto Argonauts Football Club