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Rick Zamperin: David Braley saved the CFL on more than one occasion

David Braley speaks during a press conference introducing the program of events for the 102nd Grey Cup Festival in Vancouver, B.C., on September 17, 2014.
David Braley speaks during a press conference introducing the program of events for the 102nd Grey Cup Festival in Vancouver, B.C., on September 17, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jimmy Jeong

It is safe to say that there would be no Canadian Football League — at least, not the league as we know it today — without David Braley.

The Hamilton native saved not one, not two, but three CFL franchises from impending doom, he was the chairman of the league’s board of governors and was even the interim commissioner in 2002.

Braley died in his Burlington home on Monday at age 79 after a long illness.

Read more: Former senator, CFL franchise owner David Braley’s legacy shaped Hamilton

Inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012, Braley was one of the true titans of Canada’s professional football league.

He purchased the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from Harold Ballard when no one else would in 1989 and owned the club until 1992, when it was returned to a community-owned franchise.

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Braley came to the rescue of the B.C. Lions in 1997 when he refused to let the CFL’s western-most franchise to go belly up.

The former senator was at it again in 2010. While still owning the Lions, Braley bought the Toronto Argonauts after the team’s previous owners decided they’d had enough of the CFL.

Read more: Edmonton sports legend Joey Moss dies at 57

Braley loved the CFL, but he also wanted Hamilton to be one of the best cities in Canada, and to that end, he donated tens of millions of dollars to several local organizations, including Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University, just to name a few.

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David Braley may be physically gone from this world, but he left an absolutely enormous imprint on the CFL and the City of Hamilton.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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