March 23, 2017

Wade Miller on Coach O’Shea

Head Coach Mike O'Shea (centre) with GM Kyle Walters and President & CEO, Wade Miller, at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee announcement.

I’m honoured to have attended the official inductee announcement of Mike O’Shea into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, even though it was in Saskatchewan.  The Roughriders and CFL have done a great job with Mark’s CFL Week.

Mike wouldn’t remember this, but the first time I heard about Mike O’Shea, I was traveling as a rookie with the University of Manitoba Bisons to play Guelph in an exhibition football game in Mike’s senior year.

It was clear from that game that this fierce, nasty and talented competitor was going to play professional football, and for a long time.

His career stats – 16 seasons, 1,154 tackles, 30 sacks, three Grey Cup rings, two as a player and one as a coach – only tell a small portion of his accomplishments and what he brought to each team he played for through the years. I only battled him on the field and was never his teammate, but he was exactly the kind of player you would want to have in a locker room – a team-first attitude, a willingness to do whatever it took for teammates, and always having their backs while being focused on winning. He had a relentless work ethic, was forever holding his teammates accountable, and was never worried about hurting someone’s feelings if they weren’t playing for the team. He led by example, first by being a student of the game and then becoming another defensive coach on the field, with the only difference being that this coach would rip your head off if given the chance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

I’ve come to know him better over the past few years and understand these values and beliefs are deeply rooted from his mother and father and have been instilled in his three children, who are all making their own mark as they grow up in Winnipeg.

What makes him stand out the most is his passion for the CFL and being a Canadian. He played each game like it was his last and always had fun along the way on and off the field.

When Kyle Walters, our GM, and myself brought Mike in as the head coach in 2014, we knew that he would build our locker room and teach our team what it means to play for each together and to win. This doesn’t happen overnight, but we know that coach O’Shea’s resolve and determination will make our organization successful, just like he was as a player.

The foundation was being built and you started to see the results in 2016 on the field.  This is a man that has very strong beliefs and doesn’t waiver in his direction and vision.

Congratulations, Mike, on your induction to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. I know you want to say football is a team sport and this is an individual award. But please don’t be stubborn and enjoy the events over the next year. You’ve earned it and now are part of a select group of the best.

I’m glad we are teammates now and focused on one thing: winning a Grey Cup together with the Bombers.