(WBFF) Don Matthews, who led the CFL's Baltimore's Stallions to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances, has died at his Oregon home. He was 77. Matthews staged a five year battle with cancer, a battle he lost today.
When Jim Speros founded the Baltimore franchise in 1994, the first hire he made was Matthews, who was an experienced CFL hand. It was a brilliant move. The Stallions had a 14-7 record and became the first expansion team to play for a CFL championship. They went on to lose the Grey Cup to the BC Lions.
In 1995, they were clearly the best team in the CFL, had an 18-3 record, including sixteen consecutive wins to end the season. They defeated Doug Flutie and the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup, becoming the first US-based team to win it.
When the Stallions left Baltimore in 1996, Matthews moved on to Toronto, where he won another Grey Cup.
He finally retired in 2006 as the CFL's alltime leader in wins. His career mark 231-132-1. A five-time CFL Coach of the Year, he was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2011.
In a statement from the CFL, Jim Lawson, the chair of the league’s board of governors, said “Don Matthews had a style and swagger and passion for life as well as football, and the CFL was more colorful, more compelling and simply better because he was a part of it,”
Matthews was tough, hard-bitten and committed to winning, and his teams always reflected that.
I knew him well. I'll miss him very much.