By Gerald V. Paul
“My dad instilled in his children discipline and teamwork and he placed a very high importance on education,” said Jeffrey Orridge, the first Black commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
The newly minted CFL boss, of Jamaican heritage, attributed his success to his American mother who he said was the backbone of the family.
While the Harvard Law School graduate told the media on Tuesday he is aware of the racial barrier he has broken he said he does not think of himself as a “Black commissioner.”
“I consider myself the 13th commissioner of the CFL.”
Later, on Facebook, he commented: “It’s a dream job.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted: “Congratulations to Jeffrey Orridge on being named commissioner of the CFL. I look forward to watching you lead our game.”
American-born Orridge, 54, the former executive director of CBC Sports, said he is about to become a Canadian citizen.
The internet-driven former CEO of Right to Play, a humanitarian organization that uses sports as a transformative influence on youth around the world, shared his vision of using technology to bring in the younger demographic and ‘fishing’ where the ‘fish’ are on line.
“I think that’s the future in being able to engage, attract and distribute the content. It’s all about the best possible talent no matter where it lies.” Attendance at some CFL clubs’ games has been less than impressive in some years recently, including the major market Toronto Argonauts, who won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012.
“My international experience and background have only reinforced for me the importance of the Canadian Football League,” Orridge said.
At CBC Sports, he served as chief negotiator in securing media rights for the 2015 Pan Am Games and for the Olympics through 2020.
Orridge officially takes on the new role on April 29, replacing Mark Cohon.