Former CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell, a native of Calgary, dies at 83
Doug Mitchell certainly left his mark in everything he did.
The Calgary native, who is a member of six sports halls of fame and served as CFL commissioner in the 1980s, has died. He was 83 years old.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
« Doug’s passing is a huge loss for the Stampeders, for the CFL and for the community, » Calgary Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel said in a statement. “His contributions to football and amateur sports have been many and far-reaching.
« On behalf of the entire organization, I offer my deepest condolences to Lois and family and to all of Doug’s many friends. »
John Bean, the president and CEO of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, echoed Hufnagel’s sentiments.
“Doug’s passion and energy for the CFL and the Calgary Stampeders will never be replaced,” said Bean. “He was an incredible friend and mentor to all of us, leading by example.
“We all learned a lot from Doug. He will be greatly missed. »
Mitchell, who died on Wednesday, attended Colorado College on a hockey scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration. He then went to the University of British Columbia, where he played football while earning a law degree in 1962.
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Mitchell lined up on both offense and defense at UBC and played briefly in the CFL with the BC Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
He served as CFL commissioner from 1984 to 1988. Mitchell also spent time on the league’s board of governors, representing the Stampeders, remaining with the franchise’s executive committee until his death.
Mitchell has also served in both the Stampeders Foundation and the Flames Foundation.
« I am beyond saddened by the passing of Doug, » said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. « His incredible passion for Canadian football has inspired players, coaches and executives to pursue his dream of building character and uniting our country through our great game. »
Ticats owner Bob Young took to social media to praise Mitchell.
« Everyone loved Doug, » Young tweeted. “He was the very definition of a gentleman.
“The CFL and the world have lost a giant. We are all very grateful for his many contributions to making Calgary and Canada a better place.
Mitchell has made several significant contributions to athletics, including establishing the U Sports Athlete of the Year awards honoring Canada’s top collegiate athletes. The honor – formerly known as the Howard Mackie, BLG and Lieutenant Governor’s Sports Awards – was recently renamed the Honorable Lois Mitchell and Doug Mitchell U Sports Athlete of the Year Award.
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U Sports named one of its national football semi-finals, the Mitchell Bowl, in his honor.
« My condolences to the Mitchell family on the passing of their patriarch Doug at the age of 83, » tweeted Football Canada President Jim Mullin. “Few people have contributed so much to football in Canada, both professional and amateur.
“It is a profound loss for our sport. His focus and passion made him a pleasure to work with.
Lois Mitchell recently completed her term as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta (2015-20). Their son, Scott, is the Managing Partner/CEO of Hamilton Sports Group Partnership, which owns and operates the Canadian Premier League’s Ticats and Forge FC.
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Mitchell is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He was also appointed to the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Order of Canada.
Mitchell has been nominated for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2021 as a builder. Also in this class were former Montreal Alouettes head coach Marv Levy (in the builder category) and former players Will Johnson and Mike Walker (defensive lines), Nik Lewis (receiver) and Orlondo Steinauer and Don Wilson (both defensive backs).
Classes of 2020 and 21 were dedicated together last month in Hamilton, a delay created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When he was welcomed into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame last month, he and I talked about the topics that are close to his heart: family and football,” Amrbosie said. “It was an honor and a privilege for me to join in on the occasion and for us to recognize all that he has done for our league and what he will always mean to our sport.
“We also talked about building, doing more and being better. We talked about how our league can grow. Doug was a powerful contributor to our foundation. He would expect us to do everything possible to take advantage of it.
Ambrosie also spoke about Mitchell’s accomplishments during his tenure as CFL commissioner.
« As our league’s sixth commissioner from 1984 to 1988, and also as a former member of the CFL’s Board of Governors and a driving force behind the Calgary Stampeders, he was known for his leadership and determination, » Ambrosie said. “But like so many Canadian football fans, I will remember Doug most for his love of the game.
« When I think of his stewardship of the league or seeing the U SPORTS Athlete of the Year award given in his honor or seeing some of the best young players in our country hoist the Mitchell Bowl, I’m uplifted by the number of lives he has touched through sport.”
The BC Lions added, “Yesterday we lost a long time member of the Canadian Football League. The BC Lions Football Club shares its condolences with Lois, Doug’s wife, and the entire Mitchell family, including his son Scott, president of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club.
Mitchell was also named Sportsman of the Year in 2007 by the Calgary Booster Club and, three years later, was listed by The Globe and Mail as one of Canadian Sport’s Power 50s.
Mitchell was a member of the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors from 1980 to 1984 and also served as chairman of the 2005 Winter Goodwill Games.
He began his legal career with Howard, Mackie, specializing in corporate and commercial law. When the firm merged to become Borden Ladner Gervais, Mitchell served as national co-chair.
And sports weren’t Mitchell’s only passion. He has also worked for a wide range of organizations outside of the sports arena, including the President of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, United Way of Calgary, the Campbell McLaurin Foundation for the Hearing Handicapped, Theater Calgary and the Calgary Zoo. Calgary, to name a few.
In 2004, Mitchell was named one of the most influential Albertans of the province’s first 100 years. That same year, he became a member of the Order of Canada.
Mitchell is survived by his wife, Lois, and his children Shelley, Steven, Sue Ann and Scott.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
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