The BC Lions under owner Amar Doman have been a bright spot in a volatile market. Both their co-tenants (Whitecaps) and neighbours from across the street (Canucks) have many questioning their ownership. Whether it be covering up inappropriate behaviour or becoming the laughingstock of an entire league, those ownership groups have made Doman’s work that much more noticeable.
The CFL is constant crisis mode. The stability that the BC Lions owner brings is respected across the league. According to some players in Montreal, the situation there is disastrous. Gary Stern who owns 25% of the Montreal Alouettes attempted to be the face of the franchise. His involvement on social media was a breath of fresh air. It was short-lived as the other 75% of the ownership which is in control of his late father-in-law’s estate, made it clear that their intention is to find a buyer for the team.
The handling of the Nathan Rourke saga, was pure class by the Lions organization. While everything was going on they quietly kept about their business. They have re-signed key Canadian talent while providing quality sendoffs for both Rourke and Bryan Burnham. Luchoiz Purifoy was released in ample time to find a new organization. This week they have re-signed 🇺🇸 defensive back TJ Lee, 🇨🇦 linebacker Boseko Lokombo, 🇨🇦 receiver Jacob Scarfone and 🇨🇦 Isiah Guzylak-Messam.
Lee, 31, is the longest-tenured Lion. His whole professional career has been spent in BC. The summer of 2014 is when he made his debut. Bo Horvat is the longest-serving player from their neighbours across the street. The fall of 2014 is when he made his Canucks debut. With the Lions signing their elder statesman and the hockey team shopping theirs, it’s easy to see the direction of each franchise.
Lokombo, 32, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but his family settled in BC via Montreal when he was young. Considered a native of Abbotsford, he was dominant in high school at WJ Mouat. He was a solid linebacker at the University of Oregon before his CFL days. Bringing back the veteran shows commitment by the organization to focus on leadership in the locker room.
Scarfone, 28, is someone who has endured in his professional career. His draft stock took a major dip when he missed the 2016 USPORTS season with Guelph Gryphons. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats still selected him in the 6th round of the 2017 CFL Entry Draft. Although he would not suit up for the Tabbies he was picked up by the Ottawa Redblacks in 2018. That year he would make an appearance in the Grey Cup. After the 2019 season, he would be left in limbo as the season was cancelled and he was without a contract. In 2021, he was reunited with former Redblacks coach Rick Campbell in BC. This signing shows that the organization relishes relationships and the Campbell/Scarfone one is set to continue.
Guzylak-Messam, 27, isn’t someone who is going to jump out at you on the stat sheet. Drafted by BC in 2018 he has been a mainstay with the Lions. His main contributions have been on special teams. Bringing him back is just another indication of the consistency the Leos are creating. One of the main issues that is talked about in the CFL is the amount of roster turnover. The Lions recent signings show that they don’t want to be a part of that narrative.
In other news the Lions have added three Americans to the roster, running back Gregory ‘Buddy’ Howell Jr. and wide receivers Jake Lampman and Ron Hunt. Howell Jr, 26, at such a young age it is hard to believe that this young man has played in 55 NFL games. He collected a Super Bowl ring last season as a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Lampman, 29, appeared in 12 NFL contests all with the New Orleans Saints. His work is cut out for him as the receiver position in BC is loaded with talent. Hunt, 24, is the only one of the trio of signings that doesn’t boast any professional experience. He played college ball at North Carolina A&T, at this point he appears to be a camp body. The Lions have mutually agreed to part ways with running back Bruce Anderson III. For Lions fans the expectation of James Butler being re-signed will make the parting with his backup in 2022 easier to understand.
Anyone can see with the plethora of moves over the past couple of months that the Lions mean business. Doman came in and put the focus back in the community. No disrespect to the late David Braley but the days of the Leos having someone just paying the bills is over. Bringing back the annual Shrum Bowl between UBC and SFU showed that ownership cares about the overall health of football in BC. The likes of Farhan Lalji, Matt Baker, Giulio Caravatta, JJ Adams and Bob Marjanovich are walking around with a confidence linked to a team that is providing a return on investment for those who have put into it. In a world full of uncertainty there is one place that has shown that it is reliable and that is the Den that is being funded by Amar Doman.
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