Cauz’s Uniform Valut: Toronto Argonauts

For the Toronto Argonauts edition of my history of CFL uniforms series, I have decided to focus not on the uniform but rather on the best logo a CFL helmet ever did adorn.

Photo: Argonauts.ca

Find me another sports logo that incorporates Greek mythology and football so seamlessly. I dare you to come up with a helmet that has found a way to mesh a CFL football with a ship built by ancient Greek Gods. The new logo is all about the theme of “pulling together,” a perfect metaphor for how to win in football, while the old one from the 1980’s conjures up images of Joe Barnes, Rick Mohr, Condredge Holloway and Terry Greer. The best logos are simple ones that can tell a story and this one more than qualifies.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

Wow, there is so much going on here with Paul Masotti. I have no way of knowing this but I firmly believe the Argonauts led the league in uniform alterations. Let’s be honest, this look is not great. Do you really need to have a giant 88 on the chest considering we can already see his jersey number loudly displayed on his shoulders? You have what looks like one of Jason’s shipmates peeking out on the side for some reason and then we have whatever is going on with the pants. Two solid lines with dots in the middle going down his leg? I can’t tell if that is part of the uniform or if it’s Morse code telling Doug Flutie, “I’m open deep!” Toronto has had so many great outfits over the century; this is not one of them.

Before we move on let’s all again admire the crazy crotch grab by Masotti in the 1997 Grey Cup.

If you look closely you will notice the blue dots on the legs are still there but at least the jersey numbers of the shoulders have been replaced with a logo and the sneaky hip Jason shipmate fella has been removed. See, I told you this franchise kept changing their uniforms on what seems to be an annual basis. They’re the chameleons of the CFL.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

Why am I throwing out a shot of Toronto Argonauts running back, receiver, returner, head coach, President, CEO, Vice-Chair and now General Manager Michael “Pinball” Clemons? Beyond just wanting to list every position he has had with the organization, I just think in these difficult times we all could use a little smiling Pinball in our lives. Be honest, this picture just makes you feel at least a little bit better.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

A sleek outfit for a sleek returner. Rocket Ismail spent two memorable years in Toronto. He made the All-Star team as a receiver in 1991, won the Grey Cup while dodging a can of Coors Light. His second season saw his production drop as a receiver but he still put up impressive numbers as a returner. For most Argo fans, we just remember him getting in a fight with Andy McVey of the Calgary Stampeders, where at one point he tried to jump on his head in the middle of an all-out team versus team brawl. You know what, let’s just focus on the uniform he was wearing. I love the basic colour scheme and the matching big block ‘A’ on the helmet and shoulder pads. Once again Toronto can’t stand pat with their outfits. Does this shot from 1991 look anything like the Championship team from 1983 or 1996? This team goes through more reinventions than Madonna.

You can take your fancy stripes, mythological boats and crazy dots, I just want the ball, a small hole to run through and some guards to maul their defensive line! Nothing says we’re going to grind it up the middle like novelty sized thigh pads, big fat cleats and double bar helmets.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

Hey look everyone its former running back/slot back and two-time Grey Cup champ Duane Dmytryshyn! There are only a handful of players who have won both a Vanier Cup and a Grey Cup. Not only is Duane one of them but he also won a provincial title in Saskatchewan as the captain of his high school football team at Marion M. Graham Collegiate.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

We end this edition by going back to the early 1970s with Joe Theismann, Mel Profit and Bill Symons. If you are wondering if this is a home or a road game for the Argonauts, the old wooden rollercoaster in the background makes this a dead giveaway for old Exhibition Stadium. How cool would that be going up on the coaster and watching Theismann completing a mass to Profit? Judging by how clean their pants are I’m guessing this picture is right before kickoff.

Theismann is obviously the most famous person of these three but Symons (two-time All-Star) was the first Argonaut to run for over a 1000 yards in a single season while Profit did something you can’t see today, he dominated as a tight end. Profit was an All-Star in his final four years with Toronto and excelled both as a blocker while averaging 17 yards a catch from 1968 to 1971. Now if I only I could find a copy of his book, ‘For Love, Money and Future Considerations’ which was his account of the 1971 Argonauts season that ended with a Grey Cup loss to Calgary.

I look at these uniforms and again I am left with the feeling of “basic.” But that is not meant as a slight, far from it. The best food in the world is simple food done well. Think of a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. Nothing more satisfying on a rainy afternoon than that combo when it is done well. That is how I feel about this image of these three All-Stars getting set for the game. It is a comforting tableau of the game as it once was.

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