- 2002-05 -
On April 9, 2006 the Canadian Football League voted to suspend the operations of the Ottawa Renegade Football franchise. The decision brought to an end 4 seasons of Renegade football in the Nation's capital.
The Ottawa Renegades were born in 2002 bringing football back to the Nation's capital after the Ottawa Rough Riders has ceased operations following the 1996 season. The Ownership group was led by Brad Watters and a number of Toronto businessman. Watters had achieved sporting success with the Toronto Rock National Lacrosse League franchise. Watters brought the same management technique to Ottawa football. The Watters group proved that Ottawa did want football to return as the team sold 13,000 season tickets. Watters other venture in Ottawa the lacrosse franchise Ottawa Rebel playing in the Civic Centre folded after one season but Ottawa did have a strong season at the gate averaging 23,376 fans per game. An expansion draft brought the club proven players in Kelly Wiltshire, Gerald Vaughn and quarterback Dan Crowley.
On the field the club struggled to a 4-14 record. Dan Crowley the clubs starting quarterback struggled throwing 16 touchdowns to go with 19 interceptions. Receiver Jimmy Oliver eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving to go with 6 touchdowns. Import kicker Lawrence Tynes joined the club at midseason and immediately solved the club kicking woes. Despite the poor record a good foundation was laid for year#2.
The club was optimistic returning in 2003, General Manager Eric Tillman and head coach Joe Paopao kept continuity with the line-up but did add some healthy competition at quarterback entering training camp. Kerry Joseph (pictured) starting training camp as the #4 quarterback on the depth chart but ended camp as the back-up. Following early struggles and eventual injury to Dan Crowley, Joseph assumed the starting role. In his first game as the starter Joseph dazzled fans with a complete performance. On July 10, 2005 Joseph led the home town Renegades to a thrilling 34-32 victory over the Damon Allen led Toronto Argonauts. The team improved on defence and Tynes was widely regarded the finest kicker in the circuit. Ottawa finished the season 7-11. The club was in good shape heading into 2004 a season where Ottawa would host the Grey Cup.
It was in the off-season leading to the 2004 season that changes began to take place in the franchise. Frustrated with a salary cap that was not being adhered to league wide the team, having lost money, began to cut costs wherever possible. Watters role with the club was limited and John Lisowski a business man with an accounting background was brought in to cut costs. Lisowski's effort limited what General Manager Eric Tillman was able to do to continue to improve the team competitively. The season was a step back, with the playoffs as the goal the Renegades finished the season a disappointing 5-13. The practice roster was limited, new additions to the club were restricted due to the fiscal changes in club philosophy. On the field Kerry Joseph was injured and the clubs woes worsened. Rookie quarterback Brad Banks showed promise but the season would not end up as the club had hoped.
Following a successful Grey Cup that was a sell-out and did make money for the ownership. That same ownership saw the event as the last chance for any type of return on their initial investment. The original ownership had given up on trying to make the finances work and were tired of putting money into the team. Watters moved on from his post as club president. Eric Tillman was moved out of his post as General Manager in another cost saving move placing the responsibility on coach Joe Paopao. While several of the owner divested their interest in the team, the remaining owner Orillia millionaire Bill Smith was looking for a way to reclaim some of his initial investment. Bernie and Lonie Glieberman who had owned the prior Ottawa Rough Riders in the 1990's with disastrous results returned as 51% partners in the team. Willing to absorb all losses for the 2005 season in an effort to make right the wrongs of their earlier ownership. Smith accepted and the Glieberman's entered with Lonie being named team president.
Joe Paopao returned for what would be a lame duck season. The club opened the season strong. Joseph led the Renegades to a thrilling victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Canada Day 39-36. Following an August 17 victory over Saskatchewan the Renegades sat at 5-2 atop the Eastern division the playoffs looked like a definite possibility until the team then went on a 6 game losing streak effectively killing the teams playoff aspirations. An outstanding season for Kerry Joseph as he passed for 4,466 and 25 touchdowns while adding 1,006 yard rushing the first quarterback to achieve that feat since Damon Allen. In addition, Joseph along with running back Josh Ranek (1,157 yards rushing) became the first tandem since Rough Riders Damon Allen and Reggie Barnes to combine to both rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. The team finished at 8-10 and out of the playoffs.
The Glieberman's continued with their plans replacing Paopao with longtime coordinator John Jenkins. A failed 2 for 1 ticket promotion that ended up costing more than the proceeds generated furthered the clubs woes. Player signings were few and varied and the management team was conspicuously absent from the Ottawa region. With season tickets at embarrassing lows Lone under pressure from his father stepped down as president. What followed was Bernie Glieberman not being willing to cover the losses for 2006 without his son in charge. From there the league sought out a new ownership team. Time constraints proved too debilitating to save the Renegades and they ceased operations on April 9, 2006.
Frank Clair Stadium