The Edmonton Eskimos were once known as the flagship franchise of the CFL.
Winning seasons, home playoff games, and Grey Cups were once the norm in Edmonton. Now, a franchise won’t win championships every single season, there might be the odd year where home playoffs games or any playoff games simply don’t happen.
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The Esks filled their vacant General Manager spot yesterday, announcing that Ed Hervey has been promoted to the position following a four year stand as the club's Head Scout.
It's a reality that all teams must go through every so often.
For the Edmonton Eskimos, however, that reality has turned into a certainty in recent years.
Since their win over the Montreal Alouettes in the 93rd Grey Cup in 2005, the Eskimos have produced just two winning seasons.
During that same span they have also missed the post-season three times (2010, 2007,2006) and finished second just once (2011).
That’s right, just one home playoff game in the last eight seasons. They have one third place finish and twice they have had to cross over into the East Division.
Danny Maciocia couldn’t get the job done during his time as General Manager. While Eric Tillman had good results late in the 2010 season and for most of the 2011 season, it all fell apart in 2012 starting with the Ricky Ray trade which began a string of curious and costly moves.
The Eskimos parted ways with Tillman on Nov. 3 and it only took just over five weeks for Eskimos President and CEO Len Rhodes to find a successor.
The football team is now in the hands of Hervey, who receives a big promotion from his previous role as head scout. Hervey says it’s time to change the fortunes of the franchise.
“I believe in our culture here, I believe in Edmonton, and I believe our fans want something to believe in, and that’s what we’re here today for,” Hervey said.
“We’re here to give (the fans) some hope, we’re going to turn things around, we’re going to change things. We’re no longer going to be perceived as a side show.”
Hervey arrived in Edmonton back in 1999 and is one of the best wide receivers the Eskimos have produced in the modern era. He made three Grey Cup appearances and won twice in 2003 and 2005. In 2007, he retired and quickly accepted the role as the Eskimos’ West Coast scout.
He then was named the team’s Head Scout a short time later.
Hervey lives in Edmonton year round, which is a very important factor for Rhodes. It’s fair to say that Hervey has been – whether directly or not – grooming for this very position. He’s a bright football mind and at the age of 39, he brings a lot of youthful enthusiasm and fresh ideas to the table.
Hervey cares deeply for the Eskimos; he’s sat back silently out of respect for the people above him even though he felt the organization was heading in the wrong direction. Hervey admits that the last few years have been very tough.
“I would equate to being somewhat unpredictable over the last few seasons,” Hervey explained.
“I want to create an environment with Coach Reed’s help to stabilize it. It’s very simple; I’m not going to reinvent the wheel we’re just going to do things that we’re accustomed to doing them here in Edmonton, the right way
Another important aspect is that Kavis Reed will return as the team’s head coach. Hervey made that point very clear and he’ll see to it that Reed keeps his focus on coaching the players on the field and not concern himself with any off-field drama.
“It’s very simple. I don’t have an elaborate plan. We’re just going to do things right and communicate. We’re going to go out and scout the best players, we’re going to recommend them, Coach Reed will see them, his staff will coach them, and the guys will hit the field and perform.”
Hervey has quite the workload to take care of. Tillman left a lot of free-agents for him to sign which includes Most Outstanding Defensive Player J.C. Sherritt.
The team won’t address their salary cap situation specifically but Hervey says he’ll try to give himself more cap flexibility.
Most importantly for Hervey is to work as hard as he can to restore the good name of the Edmonton Eskimos.
Thanks to some off-field distractions over the last few seasons, the once proud Eskimos reputation has been somewhat stained.
Hervey will put the team ahead of his own interests. It’s a team that will be steering in one direction as one unit. Hervey is now the caretaker of the franchise and his priority is to give the fans a winner.
“We’re going to get bigger on the field, and more athletic,” Hervey said. “That is our goal, that is a shared philosophy between Kavis Reed and I firmly support that. We’re not going to be a team that gets pushed around late in games and late in the season.”
The proof will be in the pudding however the hiring of Ed Hervey brought some much needed good news for the Eskimos franchise and much needed burst of hope for Eskimos fans.