I know he works for BC, but is this just a meir coincedense?
Shivers shows up hoping for taste of revenge
Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, September 12, 2008
Roy Shivers believes there is a Supreme Being, and he's pretty sure it's not Eric Tillman.
Shivers lost his job to Tillman two years ago when he was fired by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who in 1999 had made Shivers the first black general manager in the Canadian Football League.
Hired last December by the B.C. Lions to look after player personnel for coach and GM Wally Buono, his old friend, Shivers has come to Vancouver from his home office in Las Vegas to attend his first game this season.
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Roy Shivers holds court on the sidelines at afternoon practice.
Rick Collins/ Special to the Sun
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Font:****And, hey, what do you know? It's against the Roughriders on Saturday at B.C. Place. The Lions visit Saskatchewan a week later, and Shivers plans to see that game, too.
Nothing personal, of course. Shivers says he has moved on, put the Roughriders behind him.
Sure, he has. Just like he has moved on from from a lifelong quest for social justice and equal rights.
Shivers, about the fittest-looking 67-year-old you are going to see - and certainly the only one you'll see in skullcap and braids rumbling into the Lions' compound in Surrey in a diesel pickup the size and colour of a fire engine - admits he is a product of his upbringing.
That upbringing occurred in the 1940s and '50s in Oakland, where his father had taken his family from Arkansas to escape segregation and where Roy Shivers' friends included Black Panther Party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.
Shivers and several teammates from the St. Louis Cardinals protested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He and his wife actively support U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, for whom Carole Shivers was a delegate at the Democrats' convention last month in Denver.
So Roy Shivers is out there, outspoken and unapologetic about it.
"I've always tried to be socially conscious," he said Thursday, standing on the Lions' practice field during a break in the procession towards him that began with Buono. "That was my mindset, the people I grew up around, people I was brought up with. We understood a lot of stuff that had gone on in America. It wasn't always Utopia. It wasn't close to this in the '40s and '50s.
"I think if I wasn't so outspoken, it might have been different [in Saskatchewan]."
"I'm not the one to shrink back and not express my opinions. If you don't like that, so be it. But don't take it out on me simply because I'm another colour persuasion."
In truth, Shivers was probably too "out there" for Regina, which might be the least ethnically diverse city in Canada.
He hired a black coach in Danny Barrett and acquired and stuck with a black quarterback in Nealon Greene.
"People questioned me: 'Why did you hire Danny Barrett?'" Shivers said. "I question why they questioned me. Nobody questioned Vince Lombardi and Don Shula and those guys why they never hired a black coach."
When Saskatchewan players Kenton Keith and Trevis Smith broke the law, Shivers was somehow blamed by some fans for not controlling them or implementing a code of conduct.
The Roughriders' progress on the field, through impressive initially, stalled at .500 during Shivers' final three seasons. The general manager balked at a restructuring of power within the organization, and said he couldn't work for team president Jim Hopson "because I dislike him and I don't trust him."
Halfway through the 2006 season, with the Riders 4-5, the board of directors fired Shivers, then quickly hired Tillman.
Tillman won Grey Cups as general manager of the Lions in 1994 and Toronto Argonauts in 1997, and in his first full season in charge of the Riders guided them to Saskatchewan's first Grey Cup in 18 years.
"I didn't see the game," Shivers insisted. "I think I was out of the country when the Grey Cup was on. I'm happy they won the Grey Cup. I wish I'd have been there, but I've moved on. I knew there were some forces that were behind the scenes [in Regina] working stuff.
"I wasn't beaten up because I wasn't going to take any beatings. When I left, I was as defiant as when I came. Unbowed.
"The only thing that was hard for me to accept was I knew we were right on the cusp of being a good football team. They just had to get over that last hurdle and that's what they did."
Asked if he thought Tillman among the forces who worked for his dismissal, Shivers said: "Probably. He's good at that from what I understand. I really don't care. That's in the past."
Shivers thought his career was in the past, too.
For the first time in 35 years, he was out of football during the 2007 season. He said he spent it travelling with Carole, playing with his grandchildren and walking his dog.
And he was content to keep doing that until Buono phoned in December and asked if Shivers would take the Lions' personnel job vacated by Bob O'Billovich, who became the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' general manager.
Shivers had one condition: that he be allowed to work from home in Henderson, Nev., as he did when he fulfilled the same role for Buono and the Calgary Stampeders in the 1990s.
"My wife told me if I ever leave again, that's it," Shivers said. He and Carole have been married for 42 years. For what it's worth, she's white.
Buono recalled Thursday that when he got his start in management, as the personnel director for the Stampeders in 1988, Shivers, then doing the same job for the Lions, told Buono to call him if he needed any help.
"You don't forget those things," Buono said.
Their friendship seems to bridge disparate identities. Buono is the son of white, Italian immigrants to Canada, a Catholic whose political views might lean towards conservatism. Shivers is the black activist born in the Deep South, the liberal who believes in God but has a lot of questions about Him and those who claim to act in His name.
"You know, Roy and I are not that different," Buono said. "Grew up the hard way. Loyal to family, loyal to friends. We're principled. We have conviction, compassion. At the end of the day, what values he has, I have. He's just a little more outspoken than I am."firstname.lastname@example.org
Is he tryingto upset the riders chemistry? We know he will be out there kibitsing with his former players.