Montreal Concordes

- 1982-85 -

excerpt - A Passing Game - Frank Cosentino - 1995 pg183-4

On Thursday, May 13, 1982, the Alouette franchise was dead; a new Montreal team, the Concordes, joined the CFL. Nelson Skalbania, "through lawyers in Hong Kong, served notice that he was withdrawing his membership." The leage was anxious that it not be involved with any of Skalbania's or the Alouettes' debt. In revoking the frnachise, it left the financial woes with the owner. It simply awarded new membership to the Concordes, hopinh to leave the Alouettes' debtors to deal with Skalbania. The procedure of awarding membership to a new franchise usually took three years but, in this case, the unanimous consent allowed it to be speeded up. Hot on the heels of the announcement was the formation of a new group of Montrealers ready to take over the new CFL franchise. Charles Bronfman, head of Seagrams and chairman of the Expos, was heading up the new ownership. Sam Etcheverry was president and chief operating officer. Directors included: Sidney Maislin, owner of a large Quebec trucking fleet, and prominent Montreal businessman Lorne Webster and Hugh Hallwand - all directors of the Expos. At the same time, the CFL posted a bond for $280,000 shoud Sam Berger win his case against the previous owner. It was done in order to allow the team to be sold without previous debts impinging upon the agreement.

 

The name "Concordes" and logo were introduced at the new team's opening press conference. According to Bronfman, the new name "was derived from the city of Montreal's motto 'Concordia Salus,' latin for 'Salvation for harmony.' It also conformed to the team's wish for a name spelled and pronounced the same in English and French.

 

If any further verification was needed that a concerted effort to attract French-speaking fans was underway, the press conference provided it. The Concordes announced that they had signed Montrealer Luc Tousignant, a quarterback who had attended Fairmont State University in West Virginia. He had been drafted in the eighth round by the Buffalo Bills, the first Canadian quarterback to be drafted by the NFL. His outstanding career was highlighted by his having broken five all-conference records. In his final year, he had a 54.5 passing percentage, and threw for 2,216 yards and 29 touchdowns. The Concordes were ready to move him into a prominent role. Last year's quarterback Vince Ferragamo would not be back; Gerry Dattilio had been traded to Calgary for Ken Johnson who was considered to be only a shor tterm solution for the new year. Luc Tousignant was "the quarterback of the future." It would be up to Coach Joe Galat to develop him to the point where the Concordes would once again challenge for the Grey Cup. Galat had been hired by George Allan during his tenure. The Alouette coaching job had been labelled by Allen as "The Greatest Challenge in North America."

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With the big lead-in to 1982 Montreal was excited to support a new era of CFL football. Rookie Quarterback Luc Tousignant was thrust into the spotlight... and it was premature. The Quebec native struggled passing for 989 yards with 4 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Johnny Evans was the teams primary starter at quarterback and an injury to star back David Overstreet severely hurt the clubs offence. Lester Brown would finish as the clubs top rusher with 388 yards on the ground. The team finished the season with 9 straight losses and an overall record of 2-14 last in the 9 team league.

 

1983 brought a new hope for the franchise as heralded quarterback Turner Gill arrived from the highly regarded Nebraska Cornhuskers. A Heisman candidate, the club would take a different tact with Gill than Tousignant who they rushed to start. Tousignant was no longer with the team in 1983 and Gill would spend the season learning the game as a back-up to starters Johnny Evans and Ron Reeves. Evans was injured to start the season and Reeves from Texas Tech filled in and delivered one of the few bright spots on the season with a thrilling victory over Ottawa on July 16th coming from behind he threw 4 touchdown passes on the day. The Concordes received some receiving help from Saskatchewan mid-season acquiring receiver Ron Robinson. The Utah State product gave the Concordes a big-play receiver who over only 6 games totaled 687 yards and an impressive 23.7 per catch average. The team would improve to 5-10-1 but miss the play-offs.

 

Turner Gill assumed the starting quarterback duties in 1984 and led the Concordes to a playoff appearance. Teaming with running back Dwaine Wilson who led the Eastern Division in rushing the Concordes had a solid offence. Nick Arakgi led the receivers with his 2nd career season over 1,000 yard receiving and an all important 10 receiving touchdowns. With a young quarterback improving every game the future looked bright for the Concordes who would come up short 17-11 in the Eastern Semi-Final to the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Hamilton.

 

1985 would be the last season for the Montreal Concordes. It was the same tri-fecta on offence although injuries to running back Dwaine Wilson and Turner Gill would limit the duo. Arakgi again led the receivers and Joe Barnes would return to the team from Calgary to pick-up for the injured Gill. Gill would be back for the play-offs and lead Montreal to it's first postseason victory since 1980 with a 30-20 win over Ottawa. From there the Concordes would again face the Tiger-Cats in the play-offs this time losing 50-26.

 

After the season Turner Gill retired from football due to concussion and chose to focus on baseball. Montreal ownership decided to resurrect the 'Alouettes' brand in a last ditch effort to improve crowds. The decision would not be a success as the re-born Alouettes would last 1 season in 1986 before shutting the doors on the eve of the 1987 season.

 

For a unique logo and some unique talents the Concordes logo was here and gone but lives on for most fans in memories of Turner Gill rolling out of the pocket and making plays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Stadium

 

Year W T Place Att
1982 2 14 0 4th 15,391
1983 5 10 1 4th 23,156
1984 6 9 1 3rd 17,391
1985 8 8 0 2nd 22,068

 

Leaders:

 

1982

Johnny Evans

Att Cmp Yds Pct TD Int

312

163

2243

52.2

13

14

Nick Arakgi

C Yds Avg Lg TD
89 1,062 11.9 46 6

Lester Brown

C Yds Avg Lg TD
89 388 4.5 33 0

 

1983

Johnny Evans

Att Cmp Yds Pct TD Int
241 139 1,864 57.7 9 12

Ron Robinson

C Yds Avg Lg TD
29 687 23.7 60 6

Lester Brown

C Yds Avg Lg TD
148 792 5.4 29 6

 

1984

Turner Gill

Att Cmp Yds Pct TD Int
375 199 2,673 53.0 16 17

Nick Aragki

C Yds Avg Lg TD
67 1,078 16.1 82 10

Dwaine Wilson

C Yds Avg Lg TD
226 1,083 4.8 36 4

 

1985

Turner Gill

Att Cmp Yds Pct TD Int
352 212 2255 60.2 7 15

Nick Arakgi

C Yds Avg Lg TD
58 741 12.8 57 3

Dwaine Wilson

C Yds Avg Lg TD
110 435 4.0 43 1