Photo courtesy of Rod Smith, TSN
TORONTO — The CFL community was shaken to its core last Friday when it was announced that longtime Toronto Argonaut and TSN analyst Chris Schultz had passed away at the age of 61.
The CFL community collectively came together to share their favourite memories of one of the largest personalities in Canadian Football.
On the latest episode of The Waggle presented by Sport Clips, Donnovan Bennett spoke to Rod Smith, James Duthie, and Dave Randorf about their fondest memories with Schultz from their respective times working together at TSN.
“I remember from being at Super Bowls or Grey Cups, there was a moment where he’d be on the field and he’d wander around and look at the players and he would soak it all in. And you just knew that he was home,” Smith said of his longtime friend. “Our great NFL producer who probably did more for taking care of Schultzy on assignment more than anyone I know. He took a great picture of him that has been on Twitter the last few days, of (Schultz) sitting down with a sharpie and his paper in Cincinnati before a Bengals game, and he was just in his office.
“No words needed to be spoken, you could just see it. You could just tell that he was at peace and he loved it.”
Episode 252: Remembering the Gentle Giant, Chris Schultz
EPISODE OVERVIEW: James Duthie, Dave Randorf and Rod Smith join Donnovan to share stories and reflect on their time spent with Chris Schultz on the CFL on TSN panel. Schultz, the face of football on TSN in Canada, sadly passed away at the age of 61 last week.
EPISODE RUNDOWN: Donnovan intro (0:00), Interview start (2:30), Duthie shares early memories on ‘CFL on TSN’ panel (3:00), Randorf early memories (6:30), Smith early memories (11:15), Schultz’s meticulous note-taking (14:30), Duthie’s video features with Schultz (20:00), Randorf stories of Schultz’s rigid punctuality (21:30), Smith’s story of Chris speaking to a HS team (25:00), Duthie’s small airplane story (27:45), Schultz’s connection to football people (coaches & players) (29:20), Schultz’s legacy as a Canadian football player (31:30), His dedication to the Purolator Tackle Hunger initiative (37:14), Everyone’s final thoughts on what Chris meant to them (39:15), Interview wrap-up (39:15), Donnovan episode close (48:20)
Schultz grew up in Burlington, Ont., playing both football and basketball during his high school career.
He was recruited to the University of Arizona, and despite being a defensive lineman for the majority of his collegiate career, he would find his home at offensive tackle during his senior season with the Wildcats.
Despite only having a single year on the other side of the trenches, Schultz was still drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1983 NFL Draft.
He spent three years with the Cowboys, playing under the legendary Tom Landry.
Following his three-year stint with the Cowboys, Schultz would make his way back home, signing with the Toronto Argonauts, where he would become one of the organization’s all-time greats. Over his nine years as a member of the Double Blue, Schultz was named an East Division All-Star three times (1987, 1988, 1991) and earned CFL All-Star honours on two occasions (1987, 1988).
He took home his lone Grey Cup championship in 1991, helping the Boatmen defeat the Calgary Stampeders in the 79th Grey Cup. In 2007, Schultz was named to the Argonauts’ All-time Team.
After his retirement, Schultz shifted his focus to media. He found his longtime home at TSN, where he became a staple of the network’s football coverage — both with the CFL and NFL.
He was a longtime member of the panel for the CFL on TSN and also hosted Football Sunday on TSN 1050 alongside Mike Hogan. He was TSN’s NFL insider and travelled to countless Grey Cups and Super Bowls, bringing his big personality and humour every step of the way.
As Smith tells it, TSN had brought in a number of individuals to audition in 1998, and out of any of the people that came in, Schultz was the one that Smith knew was ready right away for television.
Duthie was also brought in with Schultz during that summer in 1998, and the pair were set to do the panel together. He still remembers that first meeting with the gentle giant vividly to this day.
“We had our football preseason meeting. Every year, there would be a big meeting where we’d talk about the season and what we’d do differently and everybody would gather at a big table at a hotel. In this case, it was the Westin Prince,” Duthie said. “I’d just been hired by TSN. I think I had been into the station maybe once. But I walked in and was trying to find the room at the Westin, and Schultzy walked in the door and I knew exactly who he was but he had no clue who I was. I said, ‘Hey Chris, it’s James.’
“He said, ‘Do you know what room the TSN meeting is in,’ because he didn’t know me. And Schultzy, when he was focused and had that kind of terrifying look on his face. So I said, ‘It’s James, I’m the guy that’s going to be hosting with you on the panel.’ And right away, he had that ability to go from that football frown to that incredibly huge smile.
“That’s what he did and he gave me sort of the bro handshake and leaned on my shoulder and broke two of my ribs. He didn’t actually break my ribs but that was my first meeting.”
Over his two decades with TSN, Schultz became the face of the network’s football coverage. No matter the individual, the big man left a lasting impression on every person that he came across with his giant heart and humour — not to mention his love for the game of football.
“There is no bigger friend, there is no bigger advocate, there’s nobody that gives you those rib-breaking hugs or hard high fives like Schultzy,” Randorf said. “…I think about that group with Joc Climie and Matt Dunnigan and Schultzy at the end, and I was joking the other day that he was the drummer in the band or the head of security. He was the backbeat of that whole panel that has distinct personalities. They all had their lanes in terms of personality and what they brought to the broadcast. He was the pillar at the end of it. We laughed but he laughed the loudest. His whole life worked as it did as a football player. It was extremely structured.
“…He loved all the camaraderie we had and the relationship that we had. He helped me on and off the air and he was there for a lot of big parts of my personal life as well. Once you broke through that wall, you were his buddy for life.”