Toronto Argonauts

 Michael 'Pinball' Clemons - Running Back - 1989-00 - William & Mary

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CFL-H

The attributes of Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as a Person, Coach and Community leader are well known and widespread. The Dunedin born and raised Clemons has become a Canadian citizen and immersed himself as the ultimate Torontonian.

 

What may be less known are the exploits ‘Pinball’ displayed over 12 seasons as a player in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts.

 

Clemons arrived in Toronto in 1989 after being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs. Head Coach Bob O’Billovich gave Clemons the ‘Pinball’ moniker from the way he bounced around running the ball in training camp that year.

 

In 1990 Clemons would become just the third player in the franchises history to be named the league’s Most Outstanding Player (after Bill Symons and Condredge Holloway). Clemons was definitely outstanding in a number of categories – Rushing, Receiving, Punt Returns, Kick Returns – as he obliterated the pro football record for all-purpose yards (since surpassed). With a super charged offence under coach Don Matthews Clemons was everywhere posting incredible statistics.

 

1991 brought a change of ownership with Bruce McNall, John Candy and Wayne Gretzky on the scene and a new high profile teammate in Rocket Ismail. The ‘Rocket’ took over most of Clemons special teams duties but Pinball still found many ways to contribute as the Argos marched to a Grey Cup championship over Calgary.

 

1992 to 1995 brought a lull for the franchise and Pinball was the lone beacon who endured as a fan favourite on some bad teams. 1996 brought Doug Flutie and a whole new cast of all-stars including Robert Drummond as Don Matthews returned to coach the Argonauts. Matthews shifted Clemons focus to be more of a receiver in the high power offence. Clemons responded with All-Star receiving numbers 1,268yards on 116 catches - while again posting terrific special team return results. The Argonauts would dominate in 1996 and ’97 with identical 15-3 regular season records and back-to-back Grey Cup championships.

 

1998 to 2000 brought a whole new cast of quarterbacks throwing passes to Clemons; the likes of Kerwin Bell and Jay Barker. Clemons continued as the most identifiable and beloved member of the Double Blue.

 

When Sherwood Schwarz the clubs owner was desperate to change the clubs fortunes under the disastrous regime of John Huard – who did he turn to to pick up the pieces and the clubs fortunes none other than Michael Clemons. Pinball reluctantly accepted for the remainder of the 2000 season after a farewell game as a player versus Saskatchewan which brought out 28,724 fans to Skydome the largest Argonauts crowd in years.

 

The 2001 season started with Clemons as club President but when his recruited coach Gary Etcheverry struggled again Clemons stepped in to coach. This reign as coach would be uninterrupted up to the 2008 season and included a Grey Cup championship in 2004 and first place finished in 2005 and 2007.

 

Clemons retired as a coach after the 2007 to spend more time with his family and more time in the community doing what he has always done best – promoting the Toronto Argonauts and the CFL.

 

-- statistics --

 

 

Michael Clemons   William & Mary
  Rushing      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1989 Tor 28 134 4.8 23 1
1990 Tor 105 519 4.9 62 4
1991 Tor 64 443 6.9 64 3
1992 Tor 148 572 3.9 20 0
1993 Tor 89 481 5.4 32 1
1994 Tor 149 787 5.3 60 3
1995 Tor 181 836 4.6 29 7
1996 Tor 61 286 4.7 23 5
1997 Tor 50 315 6.3 47 4
1998 Tor 148 610 4.1 25 3
1999 Tor 58 249 4.3 17 0
2000 Tor 26 109 4.2 23 0
Total 12 1,107 5,341 4.8 64 31

 

    Receiving    
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1989 Tor 1 2 2.0 2 0
1990 Tor 72 905 12.6 65 8
1991 Tor 38 417 11.0 28 2
1992 Tor 46 559 12.2 52 5
1993 Tor 32 313 9.8 31 3
1994 Tor 51 577 11.3 69 2
1995 Tor 59 433 7.3 30 4
1996 Tor 116 1,268 10.9 52 4
1997 Tor 122 1,085 8.9 56 10
1998 Tor 93 995 10.7 41 6
1999 Tor 30 249 8.3 29 0
2000 Tor 22 212 9.6 33 2
Total 12 682 7,015 10.3 69 46

 

    Punt Return  
Yr Team No Yds Avg Lg TD
1989 Tor 50 507 10.1 48 1
1990 Tor 74 1,045 14.1 92 2
1991 Tor 32 440 13.8 94 1
1992 Tor 34 279 8.2 32 0
1993 Tor 77 716 9.3 79 2
1994 Tor 76 671 8.8 90 1
1995 Tor 56 470 8.4 44 0
1996 Tor 11 145 13.2 49 0
1997 Tor 111 1,070 9.6 65 1
1998 Tor 10 67 6.7 15 0
1999 Tor 61 473 7.8 58 0
2000 Tor 18 142 7.9 25 0
Total 12 610 6,025 9.9 94 8

 

    Kick Return  
Yr Team No Yds Avg Lg TD
1989 Tor 13 356 27.4 45 0
1990 Tor 39 831 21.3 51 0
1991 Tor 19 216 11.4 23 0
1992 Tor 15 295 19.7 38 0
1993 Tor 30 604 20.1 41 0
1994 Tor 16 317 19.8 40 0
1995 Tor 35 706 20.2 63 0
1996 Tor 33 883 26.8 72 0
1997 Tor 49 1,117 22.8 62 0
1998 Tor 8 149 18.6 34 0
1999 Tor 22 496 22.5 47 0
2000 Tor 21 379 18.0 49 0
Total 12 300 6,349 21.2 72 0