Michael “Pinball” Clemons
Canadian Sports Hall-of-Famer | General Manager, CFL’s Toronto Argonauts
Few people exemplify the qualities of personal excellence, teamwork, community leadership, and overcoming the odds better than CFL legend Michael “Pinball” Clemons. With boundless energy, Clemon’s talks centre on the potential for each of us to achieve anything we set our minds to. Unabashedly emotional and impactful, he shows audiences how to put heart into everything they do.
Clemons joined the National Football League in 1987, and CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 1989. He was nicknamed “Pinball” because of his running style — his diminutive size and extraordinary balance allowed him to “bounce” between defensive players, drawing comparisons to a pinball machine.
Clemons won the Grey Cup in 1991, 1996, and 1997 with the Argonauts, and was honoured with the CFL’s “most outstanding player” award in 1990, after setting the single-season record for all-purpose yards. He played his last game as an Argonaut in 2000, before becoming head coach of the team in the same year. He led the football club to six consecutive East Division Finals, including the 2004 championship, concluding his coaching tenure with 68 wins — the second highest in the team history.
In 2007, Clemons stepped down as head coach to become the chief executive officer, and in 2009, he was appointed as the vice-chair of the team. In 2019, Clemons was named the 20th general manager of the Toronto Argonauts.
Clemons is also the founder of the Pinball Clemons Foundation, a non-profit organization that empowers youth through education. Since it’s founding in 2007, it’s been responsible for the construction of a hospital in Uganda, over 200 schools in developing countries, two orphanages in Haiti, and locally awarded more than 200 scholarships.
In recognition of his work, Clemons received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and is a member of the Order of Ontario. He has also been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.