Mike O'Shea - Linebacker -1996-99, 01-08 - Guelph
A BIG kid from North Bay was a big star in the CIS with the Guelph Gryphons, arguably the top player ever produced by the Guelph football program Mike O’Shea was the 4th overall pick in the 1993 CFL draft by the Edmonton Eskimos. Before he played a game in the CFL he was dealt to Hamilton as part of the Damon Allen to Edmonton trade.
The home grown linebacker made an immediate impact in Steeltown where defensive stars are revered for generations. First as a top flight special teams contributor O’Shea quickly added punch to the defense as his tackling prowess became evident. He would star in Hamilton for 3 seasons before taking a shot with the Detroit Lions and the NFL in 1996. O’Shea was one of the final cuts with the Lions and returned to the CFL, however as a free agent he would return with the Toronto Argonauts. Having spurned the Tiger Cats to sign with the rival Argonauts, O’Shea was loudly derided by the Ti-Cat faithful on many subsequent trips to Ivor Wynne Stadium.
With Toronto in 1996, O’Shea joined a star laden team led by Doug Flutie and would go on to capture back-to-back championships. The Big Irishman anchored the Argo defense
and special teams and was a perennial all-star even after Doug Flutie left for the NFL. He was named the League’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 1999. In a shocking move in 2000, New Head Coach Gary Etcheverry acquired Joe Montford to be featured in the Argonaut defence, as part of the transaction and for contract purposes O’Shea was shipped back to Hamilton. It would be a short-lived return as Montford struggled with the Double Blue while O’Shea was his consistent solid self with Hamilton. After 1 season back with Hamilton, O’Shea returned to the Argonauts in 2001 where he would continue to round out the decade.
Mike O’Shea found a home in Toronto with the Argonauts and he mentored other up and coming linebackers in Kevin Eiben and others while leading a strong defence and special teams. Toronto would capture a surprise Grey Cup in 2006 with O’Shea a major contributor to the team.
O’Shea would continue to thrive under Rich Stubler’s defence into his mid-thirties. He climbed the ranks in career tackles to 3rd behind only Willie Pless and Alondra Johnson. With a coaching change in 2008 O’Shea was released and reluctantly retired from football.
In 2010 Jim Barker his former coach with Toronto in 1999 returned as Head Coach, in looking for a Special Teams coach he found the perfect candidate in O’Shea who returned to the Double Blue fold. With strong fundamentals and a flair for the dramatic the Argonauts special teams has become a force under Mike O’Shea. A terrific home-grown player, Mike O’Shea proved how great an impact a kid from North Bay can have on a game with such a rich history.