WINNIPEG -- With over two decades of both playing and coaching under his belt, Mike O'Shea will finally get his chance to run his own football team.
Thanks to his reputation as being a tough, sturdy, hard-nosed player, O'Shea has garnered the respect of both his teammates and his opponents over the span of his lengthy CFL career.
Today, with just hours until he makes his debut as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, some of those teammates, colleagues and opponents explain why O'Shea should be a successful CFL sideline boss, with their words often pointing to his character, and respected off-field demeanor.
"Mike O'Shea is one of the few people in the world that I would really love to have as a son. He's one of those guys that does all the things that you want to, plus five more things. He's one of the special people in the world that I've had the privilege of coaching."
- Rich Stubler, Former Defensive Coordinator (2004-08)
“Mike O’Shea is going to lead by example. He expected the best from himself as a player, and it’s going to be the same thing as a coach. I think he’s going to hold everyone accountable for what they’re supposed to do, because that’s exactly how he played. Best of wishes to him, he’s a special special man.”
- Don Matthews, Head Coach (1996-98, 2008)
“No nonsense player that always gave his best both on and off the field a professional, a natural leader, people follow him. He will be a asset to his team, community and the CFL...I loved working with Mike.”
- Adam Rita, General Manager (2003-10)
"Mike lead by example. He never had to say much because all you had to do was see him practice and play the game and you just knew you had to raise your level. Certain players played with heart and he was one of them and from the time he got to Toronto it was always about getting to the Grey cup and winning."
- Robert Drummond, Teammate (1996-1997)
"Mike O'shea was the most genuine and authentic teammate I've played with and Im sure I speak for many others as well who's been on the same roster as Osh. He understood his strengths and areas that need to be improved as a player, assistant Coach and most importantly within the scheme role on the team in general and wasn't afraid to share that.
"Osh is 100% dialed in on the smallest of details that later leads to big results. His toughness and feistiness is that of a great Hockey defenseman. It's without question that Osh will succeed in Winnepeg; he doesn't know any better and he will only surround himself around people that rival his desire to constantly seek perfection. Me knowing Osh and lining up alongside of him for 7 years; I know he will shrug off the comments and stay in the moment because thats whats important to him.
- Michael Fletcher, Teammate (2003-2008)
"I don't know if there are many people that I know that are as intense and have that fierce competitive fire that Mike O'Shea has. On the field and off the field, he wants to win. And when you couple that with the intelligence and the understanding of the game, you're goiong to win football games. He understands what it takes, he's always had a comprehensive approach to the game. And he carried that forward to his coordinating position, and no question he'll coninue to carry that forward as a head coach...because of that, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will win football games.
- Jeff Johnson, Teammate (2002-08), Coached (2009-13)
“Mike O'Shea was the most selfless athlete I have played with at any level. He was willing at any moment to sacrifice fame, personal statistics and even his health if it would help our special teams or defence make the most routine plays. In turn he helped me to become a more selfless player which is the ultimate example of leadership.”
- Jordan Younger, Teammate (2004-08), Coached (2009-12)
"Mike knows what it takes to win in this league, and he has done that as both a player and as a coach. He is highly respected by his peers, and someone we feel is the right fit for what we are trying to build here. We're thrilled to have Coach O'Shea on board.''
- Kyle Walters, General Manager (Current)
"Knowing Osh, he'll have those guys ready to play. It was sad to see him go but we're all happy for his opportunity. They're going to want to play for him, they're going to want to win for him so we've got to bring our best.''
- Chad Owens, Coached, (2010-13)
"Coach O'Shea is a great player's coach and guys play hard for him. They're going to come out physical, they're going to come out fast, they're going to come out playing great teams.''
- Shane Horton, Coached (2013)
With files from The Canadian Press