Toronto Argonauts

- 1983 -

12 Wins 4 Losses - 1st Place East Division

East: W L T F A Avg Att Most Outstanding Player Warren Moon (Edm)
Toronto 12 4 0 452 328 37,107 Most Outstanding Canadian Paul Bennett (Wpg)
Ottawa 8 8 0 384 424 23,197 Most Outstanding Defensive Player Greg Marshall (Ott)
Hamilton 5 10 1 389 498 17,000 Most Outstanding Lineman Rudy Phillips (Ott)
Montreal 5 10 1 367 447 23,156 Most Outstanding Rookie Johny Shepherd (Ham)
            Coach of the Year Cal Murphy (Wpg)
BC 11 5 0 477 326 45,551 Playoffs Ham 33 @ Ott 31
Winnipeg 9 7 0 412 402 24,614   Edm 22 @ Wpg 49
Edmonton 8 8 1 450 377 49,987   Ham 36 @ Tor 41
Calgary 8 8 0 425 378 25,684   Wpg 21 @ BC 39
Saskatchewan 5 11 1 360 536 26,194 Grey Cup Toronto 18 BC 17



1983 Argos were a once in a lifetime team

Don Landry - - 21-08-2013

The team of your life.

For every young sports fan, there is a favourite team even among all his or her other favourite teams. One that is held up higher than all the other rooting interests.

For whatever reason, be it proximity to home, be it the lure of a charismatic player or even just because it happens to be that the sport the team plays is the one the kid loves best, that team is special.

If you're lucky - very lucky - while you're still young, that team will do something extraordinary. Something that will ensure that the time and the team will remain close to your heart.

Not only that, their exploits will remain vividly cast in a protected corner of your mind, never to be replaced. Never to fade. Encapsulated in one game - one glorious game - that team will never get old, never diminish, never be anything other than what it became at that moment.

The team of your life.

Fortunately for me, the 1983 Argos accomplished that. Just in the nick of time, too.

A kid no more, I was now a high school graduate, preparing for a life in broadcasting. But - and it was a big but - there was nothing more important to me than the weekly fate of the Toronto Argonauts.

Pre-season favourites who almost let it slip away in the Eastern Final and then had a city feeling that a 31-year drought would continue when they trailed at half-time of the Grey Cup Game, they accomplished what some were beginning to believe would never happen again. A football championship for Toronto.

That 18-17 win over the BC Lions in the first ever indoor Grey Cup Game did more than end the drought, it left me - 19 years old at the time - with indelible memories, indelible feelings.

TV tray in front of me, sitting on the couch in the living room of my parents' house. Adrenaline tingling. Trailing 17-12 with just minutes remaining, Quarterback Joe Barnes - who'd come in to spell a flu-ridden Condredge Holloway after the first half - drove the Argos deep into Lions' territory.

Glue-handed slotback Paul Pearson had just made an astounding catch to set up Toronto with a first and goal at the BC three yard line.

The next play from scrimmage would become my favourite play in Argos' history. As it unfolded, I knew that play-by-play man Don Wittman's call of the winning touchdown would never stop echoing in my mind.

"Barnes... Minter... Touchdown!"

It never did. Some 20 years later, when I again saw a replay of that moment, unlike so many things that can change and be distorted by the mind's eye over time, it was exactly the way I'd remembered it.

Not because it was spectacular in style. Because it was the most important moment in the brilliant season of the team of my life. I had lived through the farcical 1981 season as an Argo fan, convinced that a 2 - 14 year was going to forever be par for the course.

My favourite player in the CFL - Holloway - had been traded to the Argos before the season began and I had high hopes. If he couldn't turn it around, no one could, I worried.

Holloway was the most special of players. Extremely talented. Terribly unselfish. Tough as nails, and not just for a quarterback. He would take hellacious - and I mean hellacious - hits and bounce right up. Or, even more impressively, wobble back to the huddle, dig in and be ready for the next snap.

For my money, Condredge Holloway remains the greatest on-field leader the Argos have ever had.

Imagine having not one but TWO Ricky Rays out there. That's what the 1983 Argonauts could boast. Holloway's understudy (I hesitate to use that term because he was much more than that), Joe Barnes, was as cool as a cucumber under fire.

While Holloway was a magician at escaping and turning nothing into something, Barnes was not nearly as mobile and relied on quick reads and releases in order to march the offence.

It took more than three decades. But for jubilant Toronto Argonaut fans, it may have been worth the wait. Cedric Minter’s TD with less than three minutes remaining proved to be the winner as the Argonauts ended a 31 year Grey Cup drought by capturing the 1983 Classic, beating the Lions 18-17.

Barnes' style was much more reflective of Ray's than Holloway's and by 'having two Ricky Rays out there' I mean two number one quarterbacks.

In 1982, with new head coach Bob O'Billovich at the helm and a revolutionary offence called the "Run and Shoot" installed, with Holloway and Barnes slinging to the incomparable Terry Greer at wide receiver and running back Cedric Minter emerging as the ball-carrying threat Argo fans had been promised season after season after season, that offence powered the team to a Grey Cup berth (ultimately a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos).

That meant 1983 dawned with the Toronto Argonauts in an unusual position indeed.

As one of being the favourites to win the Grey Cup. It's part of the reason that championship remains so special. We all know how easy it is to raise expectations. How difficult it is to live up to them. The 1983 Toronto Argonauts did that, while the yoke of a 31-year championship drought hung around their necks as well. That's pressure.

All that pressure didn’t seem to matter to that crew, however. A decent defence did enough, while a superb offence helped the team cruise to a 12 - 4 regular season record. Greer set a record for single-season receiving yardage with 2,003. Argo fans had never before seen the likes of Terry Greer and haven't since. That is saying a lot, as the team has had a long line of sensational pass-catchers. Each of them with special qualities.

But Greer had it all in bucketfuls; size, speed and leaping ability. Yards after catch savvy. Astoundingly sure hands.

Minter rushed and caught passes in dynamic fashion. Like Andre Durie or Chad Owens, he was sensational at snaring short passes and turning them into first downs or even much more. Sure-handed Pearson and Jan Carinci kept the sticks moving. Another burner, slotback Emanuel Tolbert, could bust a big play at any time.

While the 1983 regular season seemed a bit of a breeze for the Argonauts, post-season was a different matter. Whoever emerged to play the 'Juggernauts' in the Eastern Final would be fodder and nothing more, it was thought. Didn't work out quite that way, but a 41 - 36 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was earned after Minter plunged across the goal line with just 27 seconds left.

(That game's story is brilliantly told in the new book "Bouncing Back: From National Joke To Grey Cup Champs." You can read my review of author Paul Woods' detailed history of that team by clicking here.)

Minter's game-clinching touchdown path was bulldozed by a brilliant offensive line, featuring the likes of Dan Ferrone and the unit's tremendous centre, Tony Antunovic. Remember, complicated offences and blocking schemes might be the order of the day in today's CFL, but back then the Argonauts' line was wading into new territory in adjusting to the variables of the run and shoot.

The defence on the 1983 team should not be overlooked. While it's true the offence was responsible for most of the victories, Grey Cup Sunday was a different matter. Trailing 17 - 7 after thirty minutes, the Argos' defence pitched a shutout in the second half, allowing for Barnes' late game heroics. A defensive line consisting of Rick Mohr, James Curry, Franklin King and Bubba Wilson was dominant. Mohr and Curry terrified opposing offensive tackles that post-season.

King and Wilson provided Khalif Mitchell-like push on the inside. The linebacking corps, spearheaded by Don Moen, William Mitchell and Darrell Nicholson, was fast and aggressive. Nicholson, in the middle, hit like Robert McCune.

Carl Brazley, named Outstanding Defensive Player of the 1983 Grey Cup, was the catalyst, bringing together a secondary that was massive in shutting down the Lions' impressive offence that day. From his position at halfback, the Argos' team jokester ran amok.

Equally adept at covering receivers or coming up for run support, Brazley would have been a darling of present Argos' defensive coordinator, Chris Jones. Because he could - and did - play pretty much anywhere for the Boatmen, mastering all tasks given to him.

Top to bottom, the 1983 Toronto Argonauts were stacked.

It will be an amazing and thrilling thing to see the '83 Argos celebrated on Friday night. It's cliché, yes, but no less apt; that it has been 30 years since the drought was ended can't be true. A decade?

Sure, I'd buy that, but 30 years?

No matter, the passage of time. For me, they'll all be exactly the same as they were on November 27, 1983.


More than just champions, actually.

The team of my life.



1983 Team Statistics



  Passing           Rushing    
Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg C Yds Avg Lg TD
Condredge Holloway 372 210 3,184 56.5 18 5 80 56 271 4.8 19 4
Joe Barnes 271 149 2,274 55.0 11 8 87 38 231 6.1 24 3


Running Back

  Rushing         Receiving  
C Yds Avg Lg TD C Yds Avg Lg TD
Cedric Minter 120 563 4.7 73 7 61 828 13.6 79 5
Bob Bronk 14 62 4.4 27 0 14 144 10.3 27 2



  Receiving       Punt Return  
C Yds Avg Lg TD No Yds Avg Lg TD
Terry Greer 113 2,003 17.7 72 8          
Emmanuel Tolbert 70 1,225 17.5 80 11          
Paul Pearson 54 804 14.9 46 4          
Jan Carinci 32 357 11.2 29 1 46 380 8.3 39 0
Greg Holmes 28 328 11.7 30 0          
Geoff Townsend 12 231 19.3 53 0 5 14 2.8 4 0




Conv     Field Goal      
A G % A G % LG Pts
Hank Ilesic 41 40 97.6 39 26 66.7 48 148




Exhibition Stadium

Avg Att: 37,107


Week 1 @ Calgary

Toronto 45


Att: 25,124

Argo QB Condredge Holloway threw for 441 yards and four TDs, while Calgary backup QB Gerry Dattillo also threw four TDs, three to Tom Forzani, in relief of Bernard Quarles


Week 2 v. BC


BC 14

Att 39,437

Bolstered by the return of all-star safety Zac Henderson, the Argo defense held the Lions to 355 yards. Roy Dewalt completed only 14 of 28 passes for 217 yards.


Week 3 v Montreal


Montreal 13

Att: 35,490

When Toronto fell behind 13-12 in the fourth quarter, Joe Barnes marched the Argos down field for two TDs and a FG to remain the only CFL's perfect team.


Week 4 @ Saskatchewan

Toronto 45


Att: 25,734

Joe Barnes replaced Condredge Holloway and led the Argos down the field for a TD and did exactly the same thing on his second series to preserve the win.


Week 5 v Hamilton

Hamiton 31


Att 43,658

Tom Clements completed 16 of 33 passes for 270 yards and two TDs to lead the TiCats to their 10th straight win over the Argos in regular season play.


Week 6 @ Winnipeg


 Toronto 16

Att: 27,796

For the second consecutive Saturday, the Argo offence sputtered, this time compiling only 58 yards in the first half. It rolled up 271 in the second half, but that was after a 22-0 Bomber lead.


Week 7 @ Ottawa

Toronto 27,


Att: 30,006

Despite leading 11-5 at halftime, the Riders allowed the Argos to come back easily and win, as WR Terry Greer established a CFL record by catching 16 passes for 230 yards.


Week 8 v. Saskatchewan


Saskatchewan 15

Att: 35,414

The Argos trailed 15-14 at halftime, but came back to spoil the CFL head-coaching debut of Reuben Berry, who replaced Joe Faragalli after a purge last week.


Week 9 - Bye


Week 10 @ BC

Toronto 32

BC 14

Att: 52,656

WR Terry Greer dazzled the crowd by scoring two TDs and snaring eight passes for 243 yards. That total accounted for most of the Argos' offensive production of 398 yards.


Week 11 @ Hamilton

Toronto 50


Att: 25,128

Hamilton dug its grave early in the game when Toronto rolled up a 21-1 first-quarter and 33-1 halftime lead to break their 10-game losing streak to the TiCats.


Week 12 v Calgary

Calgary 49


Att: 35,679

Calgary rookie QB Bernard Quarles fired 21 completions on 28 attempts for 393 yards and four TDs, while Argo QB Condredge Holloway was yanked in the fourth quarter for Joe Barnes.


Week 13 @ Montreal

Toronto 30


Att: 20,046

The Argos trailed 14-0 after two quarters, but Argos backup QB Joe Barnes sparked the comeback, completing 28-of-41 passes for 400 yards, clinching a playoff berth.


Week 14 v Edmonton


Edmonton 15

Att: 37,746

While the Argo defense limited the Eskimos to 301 yards and only one TD, WR Terry Greer clinched the come-from-behind victory with a 66-yard TD pass at 7:53 of the fourth.


Week 15 - Bye


Week 16 v Ottawa

Ottawa 20


Att: 36,526

RB Skip Walker caught a four-yard TD pass with only two seconds left and provide Ottawa with a playoff berth. In the first half, the Argos scored only 11 points despite 5 straight Ottawa turnovers.


Week 17 @ Edmonton

Toronto 22


Att: 53,577

With 13 seconds left, Joe Barnes stunned the Grey Cup champions by sneaking 24 yards into the end zone and providing the Argos with their 11th win of the season, a team record.


Week 18 v Winnipeg


Winnipeg 9

Att: 33,008

 Terry Greer, with his 13 receptions and 148 yards, set CFL single-season records of 113 catches and 2,003 yards. He also became the first player in pro football to reach the 2,000-yard plateau.


Eastern Final

Sun Nov 20


Hamilton 36

Att: 54,530

It wasn't until 27 seconds were left to play, however, that the bubbly could be taken out of the cooler, as RB Cedric Minter plunged over for a two-yard TD and a berth in the Grey Cup.


Grey Cup


The Argos faced a difficult task. Not only were they opposing the BC Lions with a partisan crowd behind them, but Toronto’s star QB Condredge Holloway was battling the flu. Trailing 17-7, Toronto coach Bob O'Billovich elected to go with Joe Barnes in the second half. K Hank Ilesic missed on three FGs, but with four minutes remaining, Barnes executed one of the most important drives in Argonauts history. With 2:44 left, Barnes flipped to Cedric Minter in the end zone, giving the Boatmen their initial lead. But the Argos failed on the two-point attempt. BC’s Roy Dewalt had one last chance to throw a Hail Mary pass on the final play, but his prayer wasn’t answered, as long suffering Argos fans went into the streets in jubilation with their first title since 1952.