‘You wish everyone could have a moment that special’: Tales from a CFL champion

Randy Ambrosie holds a football as he speaks during a press conference in Toronto, Wednesday July 5, 2017. The CFL says Ambrosie will serve as the 14th commissioner in league history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

To be a Grey Cup champion is the dream of every CFL player.

One man has had quite the career in the CFL, moving from player, to champion and finally to CFL commissioner.

Randy Ambrosie, the 14th CFL commissioner, spent five years as an Edmonton Eskimo, and said he can’t think of a time he felt more happy to be part of a team.

WATCH BELOW: Edmonton is hosting football fans from coast to coast, and on Wednesday the CFL Grey Cup festivities got underway. Margeaux Maron has more on the family fun activities on Jasper Avenue, as well as the indoor parties.

Click to play video: 'The Grey Cup Festival gets underway in downtown Edmonton'
The Grey Cup Festival gets underway in downtown Edmonton

“It is without a doubt my proudest affiliation in my life in sports,” said Ambrosie. “The way my family was treated, two of my three girls were born in Edmonton. We just have a love of this city that will never go away.”

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LISTEN BELOW: Randy Ambrosie shares stories from his time as an Edmonton Eskimo

He said he remembers his time with the team fondly, including the first day he walked in the dressing room with head coach at the time, Hugh Campbell.

Another memorable moment for Ambrosie was when the team broke its playoff losing streak.

“For me, it was a very interesting time. That was my ninth year. I had hurt my knee for the fifth time, I was scheduled to have surgery afterwards,” Ambrosie said. “I think I knew it was time to move on, so there were all of these weird forces at the time. My emotions were certainly churning.”

The team beat Calgary in the Western Final in 1993 in the midst of a snowstorm.

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“Sitting in the dressing room after and knowing I would get a chance to go to the Grey Cup, probably for the last time. Then walking out of Calgary a week later as Grey Cup Champions. It’s kind of indescribable.”

Ambrosie said his wife, brothers and father, who has since passed away, were all there to share in the moment. His mom, who he called a nervous fan, was watching from home.

“You cover the entire spectrum of emotion. The one thing I remember so vividly from that game was being on the sidelines during the pre-game ceremony,” he said. “The national anthem was playing and the jets flew over top. I had tears flowing down my cheeks…then they kick the ball and all of a sudden you’re back to business.”

Ambrosie said it’s an experience he will never forget.

Ambrosie said he loved his time as a player, but doesn’t miss being on the field.

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“I stand next to some of these guys and I’m thankful I’m not playing. They are just huge. There’s no doubt in my mind they’re better athletes than I ever was,” Ambrosie laughed.

Ambrosie left football to pursue a career in the financial services world. Later, he sold his business and was offered the job as CFL commissioner.

“We had a family meeting. The girls looked at me and said ‘that’s the perfect job for you!’”.

He said he feels lucky to have the experience of being a player as well as the 14th CFL commissioner.

“[Being a player as well as a commissioner has] only happened a few times in our very long history. For me, it was a great journey to come back.”

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