May 3, 2016

Danny McManus to join Gridiron Greats

Danny McManus is honoured during half-time of CFL game, in Hamilton, Ontario, Friday, September 21, 2007. (CFL PHOTO- Dave Chidley)

Danny McManus has always been a humble sort, quick to share the credit with everyone in the huddle whenever the spotlight was pointed his way.

It’s part of what endeared him to so many during a Canadian Football League career that spanned 17 years with Winnipeg, B.C., Edmonton, Hamilton and Calgary, and had him sharing stories and ales with diehards at almost every Grey Cup he wasn’t suiting up for with his teammates. In a league that has long been hard-hat and lunch pail, he was the every man.

Next month McManus, now 50, will be part of the 2016 Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame induction class that includes New York Jets legends Joe Namath and Don Maynard, and three other National Football League quarterback legends in Billy Kilmer, Daryl Lamonica and Dan Pastorini.

Mike Ditka, the iconic long-time coach of the Chicago Bears, is the president of the Gridiron Greats, an organization founded to help players unable to benefit from the pensions of the modern era with medical costs and other needs.

Quarterback Danny McManus of the Hamilton Tiger Cats holds the Tom Pate Award for sportsmanship and community service, holds his trophy during the CFL awards Nov. 24, 2005 in Vancouver. Former teammates Danny McManus and Joe Montford will take special memories of a Grey Cup in Hamilton and more wins in Edmonton when they enter the Canadian football Hall of Fame. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Paul ChiassonThe inductees are honoured for their accomplishments on the field, but also for giving back to the game after retiring.

“Any time you get to go into another hall of fame with guys like Joe Namath and Dan Pastorini, that’s awesome,” said McManus, the Bombers’ Assistant GM, Director of U.S. Scouting, during an interview with bluebomberscom.

“And to be in there with the ‘Coach’ is going to be a neat experience.

“I know Matt Dunigan and Ray Elgaard have been part of it and they said it’s a great event with a lot of great people.”

Hamilton Tiger-Cats great Angelo Mosca was the first to be inducted into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame in 2012 and has been followed by Dunigan, Elgaard, George Reed, Hugh Campbell, Marv Levy, and now McManus.

This will be the third hall of fame in which McManus will be inducted, after previously being named to the Florida State and Canadian Football shrines.

It also had him reminiscing this week about a long association with the three-down game that pre-dates him signing with the Bombers back in 1990 following two years with the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I was intrigued by the CFL” McManus recalled. “I watched it as a kid because during the week when ESPN was just starting, they were putting replays of the game on during the week.

“I went to a free agent workout in Tallahassee with the Ottawa Rough Riders at the time and got more information about it and was still intrigued. When I got released by Kansas City, Mike Riley gave me a call and asked me to come up to Winnipeg and I said, ‘Yeah, let me give it a shot.’

“To be honest with you, I never really wanted to work. I just wanted to keep playing football.”

McManus was part of the Bombers last championship, in 1990, but left the club after the 1992 season. He was part of three Grey-Cup championship teams, in 1990 with Winnipeg, 1994 with B.C. and in 1999 with Hamilton.

That year he was also named the league’s Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup MVP.

He retired following the 2006 season and, at the time, his 53,255 passing yards was the CFL’s second best (now fourth). In 2011, McManus was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

He will attend the Gridiron Greats induction with his wife Kathie and has three children, daughter Kelsey (Sexauer, now married) and two sons — nine-year-old Jaxon and, Joshua, who is six.

Many CFL fans, meanwhile, will no doubt likely hoist a beer in his honour.

“I love the CFL,” said McManus. “I love the ability of the fans and the players to communicate, to be in those settings where you can just talk football.

“That’s what’s been great about this league.”