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Suddenly out of a job, the routine of the past four-plus years gone out from under him, Ed Hervey had more time than he knew what to do with for the majority of 2017.
“I went fishing, I rode the bike. I don’t know if doing the radio show with Jason Gregor on (TSN 1260) counts as something,” Hervey said, taking the time to laugh at his own joke a little bit. Now the BC Lions general manager for just over a month, Hervey had just arrived in Banff for the CFL GM and presidents meetings with commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
In his four seasons as the Edmonton Eskimos’ GM, Hervey’s dedication to the job couldn’t be questioned. A first-time GM, he took his lumps with a 4-14 season in 2013, but had put the pieces for a great team in place. The Esks hoisted the Grey Cup in 2015 and played in the West and East Final in the other two years he was in charge.
If you spent any time around Hervey in those years, whether it was the four-win rookie season or the Grey Cup-winner in 2015, the depth of his commitment was obvious. A GM’s job can keep you up at night, thinking about roster moves big and small, about the salary cap, about your draft position, about building something great and not letting it slip back into mediocrity. The job can consume you. Talking with Hervey, you get the feeling that if you’re not consumed with the job, he’d think you’re not doing it the right way.
“I haven’t taken a vacation since I’ve been a GM. There’s no true vacation,” he said. “Vegas (where he lives in the off-season and where his family lives) isn’t a vacation because my family is there and I can work out of there.
“I can honestly tell you that I’ve never taken 10 days or seven days and gone to an island or gone to Mexico, Hawaii or Europe. You call some of these guys and you’re like where are you at and they say they’re in Maui,” Hervey laughed. “How are you able to go on a vacation with this job?”
So when Hervey was released by Edmonton on April 7, 2017, just a month away from the CFL Draft, everything came to a very sudden stop. The time that his job had eaten up was gone and while he wasn’t happy about how it came about, he was able to catch up on all of the things that he’d been missing.
“Simple things like going to lunch and being able to sit and have conversations with people about different things outside of football was new to me after so many years,” he said. “Cleaning up my place, just real life stuff. Taking care of my health and resting. That was the most important thing.”
Getting reacquainted with rest was like catching up with an old friend.
“Obviously you have an opportunity to look back on the situation and reflect but more importantly it was just a chance to rest. Rest and get an understanding and put everything perspective,” he said.
“You start losing sight of everything that’s important to you because everything kind of revolves around the success of the team or finding the coaches or the players. There are so many different things that keep you busy at this job that you forget about the people that have been in your life that helped you get there. Spending that time with them and making sure that they understand that you not only care about them but you love them and that they are important to you. So that time off gave me that.”
It was a little strange but a little enjoyable too, to watch CFL games as a fan this season, Hervey said. He recharged quickly through this past season and was more than ready to dive back into that all-consuming world when Wally Buono and the BC Lions came looking for a new GM through Grey Cup Week in Ottawa.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Wally’s been great, Mr. Braley’s been fantastic. It’s about improving our football team and allowing us to do our jobs,” Hervey said.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with Wally on so many different levels. Aside from him being arguably the greatest coach in the CFL, one of the most successful in football, professional football, the things that I can learn that I wasn’t given the opportunity to learn, just having that kind of experience around to develop (being around him).”
He watched the GMs that he worked under in Edmonton when he was a scout, studied the league around him as he readied to take the job on. But Hervey never had someone with Buono’s experience around him on a daily basis.
“You understand that there’s so much more to learn just having been around Wally for a little over the month we’ve had the chance to talk. I feel that it’s a great opportunity and more importantly it’s going to be a great working situation for me.”
In a different market than what he’s been used to for the last 18 years, first as a player then into a career in football ops, Hervey, who was closed off with media at times while in Edmonton, said he’ll do some things differently in Vancouver. But he’s not changing who he is.
“I felt given another opportunity to do it I’d change a few things,” he said. “But my intensity, my level of my work ethic won’t change.
“I guess the profile, the public profile of the position, I need to better understand that more and recognize that the job requires me to have some openness to the people that are around, media and things like that.
“However, I won’t be pushed into doing things that I don’t want to do and I won’t concede what’s important to me, which is making sure that our information as far as our club is concerned, is tight within the building to make sure that we’re successful.
“But I also understand that there is some give and take with media to make sure that our team gets its coverage. I understand that there’s a a relationship that needs to be had and that relationship can work. Being selective is not going to change. It’s a matter of what you give me is what you’re going to get and vice versa.”