to Mr. Tillman from a Knowledgeable Fan.

I was born two years after the Riders last playoff season (1978) and I have been brought up with my entire family from day one as a Roughriders fan even though I have lived in Edmonton my entire life.

from the age of 6 I have been involved in football in one way or another and started playing at the age of 11 for 8 years until an unfortunate injury stopped my playing days but continued in many ways after, as a referee for 5 seasons and I have coached for 4 different seasons as well, right up to High School.

I feel confident in my knowledge about Football that I can make a good discussion regarding the Riders and their players.

I have a few questions to ask, so I will try to be to the point.. and I'd hope you will give me a good response :slight_smile:

  1. When you are out (with your scouts) looking for talent to bring to Camp for tryouts, what specifics do you look for when considering the player? what is the most important "talent" or "aspect" that makes you pay more attention to that player than others? Height, speed, hands, personality/attitude? what about things like Toughness and desire?

  2. Do you believe that winning at all costs is the most important goal for this team? and would you agree that there are a number of factors that make that kind of team, like closeness amongst the entire team, attitude, leadership among the captains and keeping their teammates in line when things get tougher? or is there something else you'd like to add or change in that?

  3. What do you believe is the biggest differences between the teams that have been in Saskatchewan for the last few seasons, from the teams that missed the playoffs for 11 straight years back in the 80's?

  4. Remember back when the Eskimos were that very powerful team when they had players like Brian Kelley, Stephan Jones, Gizmo Williams, etc. ?

You know how they let a Player like Kelly go before he wore out his welcome? before he was passed his playing days?

Yet the Roughriders kept a number of players well beyond there years, like Elgaard, Narcisse, Jurasin. to name a few of many.

So the difference between the Eskimos and our Roughriders at that time was the Esks being 1st or 2nd place in the west all the time, never finishing below the Riders in the standings (till 2007) and our Riders finishing 3rd at 9-9 or 4th and missing out on the playoffs.. repeatedly, with no winning seasons or very few and not a single home playoff game.

So.. sorry for the long explanation but the question basically is, Would you be at all hesitant to do the same thing the Eskimos did back then to a veteran player if you knew he was passed his time and a player who was just as good and 10 years younger was waiting to play?? would you get rid of them instead of holding them back, like passed Rider coaches and GM's did (namely Al Ford) will you make the hard decisions that need to be made to maintain a team on top?

That is the one thing that us Rider fans always were getting very tired of is that players were staying around way beyond their years..

sure Narcisse was a great player! but he stayed way too long! he was already slowing down and we were passing on amazing receivers who were more than able to take his spot and make a bigger impact on the field!

I believe I am a very football wise person. I know the game very very well and have a good grasp of the game and the concepts and reasonings for why things are what they are.

the biggest problem that we had before Kent Austin and yourself came along was that there was way too much complacency in the dressing room! there was no drive, no threat of losing your jobs as players! we could see it, nobody was kicking the lazy players in their butts and getting them to perform as they should!

The Riders were alienating their fans and refused to make the right moves to make the public happy.

Passing up on great Canadian Talent like Claremont at the Draft that year was bad. sure, we weren't in the position to draft him, but the fact that they made no attempt at all to even try and draft him was very bad!

The moment you came on board, we could see the change! it was like night and day! the players were motivated, the coaches and teammates kept each other straight, didn't allow them to get complacent, They were finally starting to look like a team that could be winners instead of the "loveable losers" that this team had become for so long.

Unlike a lot of other Rider fans in here, I have full respect towards you as a GM and as a Person! you have made the right moves, some very gutsy! and we have come out with many things I have never seen in my lifetime!

I truly hope that you will continue to make this team even stronger and more feared than ever before!

Just do me one favour! when it's time for someone to go, please don't keep them just because they're a fan favorite! let em go when it's time to go!

This is a true fan, who actually appears to want to engage in something other than arguing.

I'm not sure I would go that far jman :wink: Have you seen some of his rants about the Eskimo's? Although certainly a much better post than many.

You prefer engaging in B.S. better than arguing? You are kidding right?

Passing up on great Canadian Talent like Claremont at the Draft that year was bad. sure, we weren't in the position to draft him, but the fact that they made no attempt at all to even try and draft him was very
Personally, I hope ET does come on and tell us this story. Why he personally passed on Clermont, not once, but twice, while Roy, who never had a chance to draft him still takes flack over it 7 years later. And maybe ET can tell us if Roy did try to move up in the draft and whether or not Ottawa or TO were willing to accommodate that move. How come ET doesn't get any flack for not moving up in the draft to get Bauman? Or Barker last year? This is exactly the kind of mindless rhetoric that makes me crazy....

I should have said, not with other Rider fans.

I find it funny that since ET has been nice enough to post on here that everyone has just been firing question after question at him, expecting a response. Don't you think he's busy doin other hopefully signing free agents?

I agree that Roy Shivers was treated unfairly by some for not moving up the draft to get Jason Clermont. Do we know if BC was willing to make a realistic deal in order for him to do that? I heard that Roy Shivers tried but what I heard was only fan gossip. General Managers usually want an established starter and a whole wack of future draft picks to give up a first rounder, generally.

Chris Bauman or Dylan Barker are another story too. Chris Bauman was not a lock to be first overall by some GMs when he was drafted. I remember reading that some, including the 'rider current head coach rating Adam Nicolson above Chris Bauman. Although Bauman played for the Rams, he was from Brandon and I would think that Winnipeg would be his natural "home team," if that even matters. Also there is Brandon Labatte who is now with Winnipeg especially when I think the one weakness with the 'riders is young O-linemen, but Brandon Labatte stunk at that all star game in the south and his stock dropped somewhat, but he was certainly a pleasant surprise for Winnipeg.

Oh how I would have loved to have gotten Dylan Barker but he was the overall consensus athlete to go first overall especially after his performance at E-Camp. The 'riders were not the only teaming drooling over him. Again I heard that Hamilton wanted an established starter and even some draft picks to give up their first overall pick which is an expensive deal for a rookie Free Safety who for the most part would have spent most of the season as a backup and being part of the looney squad playing special teams.

Oh well... maybe when he is free agent and has some experience under his belt.

In amateur drafts, one takes what one can get and then hope for the best even with first rounders.

Very much my point. Jason Clermont was not a consensus #1. which is why he went 4th overall. The Riders had the 5th pick. Ottawa, with the wily ET as GM had two picks and passed on Jason on both of them. I believe Toronto had the other pick, and they passed on him as well. It is great to pick homegrown talent. When you have the chance to do so. And we have several Rams and Huskies playing for us. Plus the "Thom Collegiate" backfield. But to hold a guys feet to the fire for 7 years, and now, 3 years later to still be bringing that up as proof somehow that Roy didn't do the job is ludicrous. And in an open letter to ET that proclaims ones astonishing football acumen to boot. Essentially, any GM who doesn't trade up to #1 is making a mistake. And then if you don't actually draft the best player in the draft, forget it!! It's just stupid. The same poster will never place the same standard at ET's doorstep. Which is a general theme in the "I am the greatest" open letter.

U can’t even compare bauman or barker to clermont. Neither of them were even close being a rookie of the year candidate or IMO have what it takes to even be named Canadian of the year

Arius, why such a demeaning tone. Have you made mistakes in any aspect of your life? If so, why do you seem to harp on every single mistake I've made (or, at least the ones you know of...since there have been many more)?

The Jason Clermont abbreviated form. As an expansion team, we had the 1st and 2nd picks overall. We saw film of Jason and liked him, and Frank McCrystal told Joe Paopao and me that we would be "crazy" not to draft him. At the evaluation camp in Montreal, Jason arrived late at night (must have been tired) and ran a very poor 40 time (4.8 something).

After the combine, we discussed four players that we really liked: Alexandre Gauthier, Mike Vilimek, Brock Ralph and Jason...and one other big man, because of his position. Joe and Kani, our offensive line coach, loved Alex. And, being in Ottawa, the fact that he was French Canadian was a big plus. So, it was decided he would be one of our two picks. Since Brock was an underclassmen, we felt he would fall to the second round (which he did, and we selected him 11 or 12th overall). The debate was Vilimek or Clermont. Mike, like Jason was/is a class young man. He had turned down a scholarship offer at a major US school to be with his Dad (after his Mom died suddenly in a tragic accident)....attending Vancouver's Simon Fraser University. Mike was a dominant player at SFU, and, at the combine, weighing almost 235 pounds, he ran under a 4.6 40 yard dash. I liked both guys but sided with taking Mike, as did Joe. We all liked Jason, but we were really concerned about his 40 time. The only guy on our staff who was outspoken to draft Jason was Dave Easley (now on the Ticats staff). But, our offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier (now at the University of Washington) was all for drafting Mike. Ultimately, the final call was with Joe and me (but MINE, since as GM I contractually had final say). We (and I take full responsibility for it) decided to draft Alex (who has been a multi year starter) and Mike (who has never reached his potential...injury plagued).

Other parts of the story, however, which are interesting:

One, BC is the only team which actively tried to trade up with us, and they did so wanting to draft the hometown kid, Mike Vilimek. That fact has been repeated acknowledged by those on the Lions staff. So, in truth, our unwillingness to trade with them (they offered us picks 4 and 6 for picks 1 and 11 or 12...can't remember which), allowed Jason to fall in their laps at number four.

Two, Toronto picking third overall, selected an offensive lineman (Annett, I think) who is no longer in the league.

Three, Saskatchewan, contrary to rumours which still persist, never called or made an effort to trade up.

Four, we almost drafted Sherko Haji Rasouli, with the second pick (even though we didn't have him in our top four). Why? Because he was from Montreal (less than two hours away) and we felt it was easier to find Canadian receivers or fullbacks, compared to quality, starting Canadian offensive lineman. We had two picks in the second round, and should have taken Sherko. I wanted to, but our defensive staff wanted us to take a defender since we were taking Brock Ralph with our 2nd second rounder, and that would be four consecutive offensive picks.

Five, Saskatchewan traded their first pick, Dan Comiskey and Darren Davis to Edmonton (for Nealon, Simon Buffoe and a 2nd round pick). The Riders selected Francoise Bouilanne, an OL...ahead of Scott Gordon, Scott Coe, Aaron Fiacconi and a few others who became CFL starters.

Bottom line? Passing on Jason Clermont was a colossal draft blunder, for which I take full responsiblity. In fairness, though, to Mike Vilimek, I think anyone you would speak to in the CFL, who's been with him, will speak to his talent and his character. Mike is very special in both areas, but a series of injuries (including a knee) have really held him back. This is said not to justify our decision to pass on Jason (it was a major mistake), but, rather, to show respect to a young man (Mike Vilimek) for whom I respect very highly.

Soooooo, Arius, is that detailed enough to satisfy you? :smiley:

It should be, but I have this sneaking suspicion that it won't be.......................

I agree... I guess after ET moves on, he should contact Arius and groom him to become our next GM! :twisted: :lol: :lol: :lol:

...who would then promptly hire Mikey as Director of Player Personnel. Then the Riders' would be perfect, have undefeated seasons and win the Grey Cup each November with ease.............

Arius/mike is the second coming of Roy/Danny… :lol: :lol: :lol:

No, but we'd never make a mistake!!!

ET, thanks for the story. Whether it satisfies the comma hunters around here, who knows. God forbid you told this tale before and only reproduced it here with 99% accuracy.

On a more serious note, now that we've signed the 5 kids that were announced this week, is there any backstory on any of them that would make for interesting reading?

Thank you Mr. Tillman for the explanation. I see the logic behind what you did when you did it.

Alex Gauthier is one of the premier Canadian O'lineman in the league.

Mike Vilimek had an outstanding University career when he broke Simon Fraser records for the most yards in a single game and most yards in a single season in 2001 playing against American College teams, records which still stand today ahead of such players as Sean Millington and Orville Lee. (Yes Simon Fraser played in a NAIA league and not in the CIS at that time). At 6' 4" 240 he had the potential to become an outstanding fullback who could also carry the ball. He even had a tryout with the San Francisco 49ers. He was as you say plagued by injuries early in pro career playing only 5 games in his rookie season and 4 games his second season and then 12 games his third season. In his third season, he was second on the team in special team tackles even though he missed a third of the season. The first year he signed with Montreal he had 5 rushing TD's and led the team in special team tackles.

He does as you say have a special character about him being highly regarded in the business community.

I think the real tragedy is not that you missed out on Jason Clermont, but the fact that Mike Vilimek was plagued by injuries early.

Jason Clermont had an outstanding career in Regina even though his first year with the Rams was back when they were still playing junior football. He did get invited to the Shrine Bowl in which only 2 Canadians are selected to play each year and he was an allstar throughout his CIS career...

About you being concerned about the Jason Clermont's lack of speed... well, I do not think you were the only one. People today are still concerned about Jason Clermont's lack of speed (and he is not getting any faster) and the wear and tear on his body taking big hits playing the short route game which his lack of speed forced him to be. But man, what hands he has...

You rolled the dice back then and this one you lost... Oh well. You are forgiven.

Beaver's an interesting kid.

hey Mr. Tillman, you never actually replied to my questions!

I really am hoping you do!

I also read on one of those NFL souting websites that Justin Beaver is a pretty good blocker (good but not outstanding to be exact).... At 5' 8" 190 he must a solid little guy. I am 5' 8" 185 and I am fat.

It is too bad he has such poor parents (I know what that is like) but fortunately for him he had a couple of great grandparents to take over for them.

I hope that he plays well enough to make the team, because I like it when kids are able to get a least one good break in life. At NCAA III level play though, there are not a lot of them that ever make it to the pros even in the CFL.