Michael “Pinball” Clemons
Canadian Sports Hall-of-Famer | Founder, Pinball Clemons Foundation
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, Pinball’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.
Pinball joined the National Football League in 1987, and the Toronto Argonauts (and the CFL) 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. In 1990, he was honoured with the CFL’s “most outstanding player” award, 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. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2016, Pinball was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2007, Pinball stepped down as head coach to become the Chief Executive Officer; in 2009, he was appointed to Vice-Chair of the team (he has since left the position). That same year, he founded the Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation, which is dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth. He is also currently working with Marc and Craig Kielburger, founders of Free the Children, in an initiative to build schools and clean water systems in Africa.
Pinball is a member of The Order of Ontario and a Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient.