The Toronto Argonauts don’t know where their next scout or general manager will come from so they start talent-spotting early, sometimes discovering a future executive before they’re old enough to drive.
The front office is filled with interns and recent hires, which is part of general manager Jim Barker’s self-appointed role as mentor.
Across the CFL, there’s no tried-and-true path to the executive ranks. Clubs have leaned heavily on former star players, and you can’t argue with the success of Hamilton’s Kent Austin, Calgary’s John Hufnagel, B.C.’s Wally Buono, Edmonton’s Ed Hervey and Winnipeg’s Kyle Walters.
But in the CFL, the route to the general manager’s office is not always through the player’s door: Four general managers in the nine-team CFL — such as Montreal Alouettes executive Jim Popp — never played pro ball.
Popp had strong family football roots, though: His father, Joe, was an assistant head coach who last worked with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
“I didn’t set out to become a general manager,” Popp said. “Opportunities presented themselves.”
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