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Inside the CFL: A bittersweet weekend

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Anyone who watches the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies next month in Calgary, may see something they've never seen before.

"You might see the softer side of me," Danny McManus, who is one of the inductees, admitted to Inside the CFL. "It came to my attention this week, that two days after my induction into the hall, is the anniversary of the passing of one of the coaches who gave me the opportunity to play, Ron Lancaster. Every time I try to talk about coach Lancaster, even in the car, I get a little teary-eyed. I still can't believe he's gone. Every day I think about him and his family."

McManus had a 17-year CFL career, winning the Grey Cup in his rookie season, 1990, with Winnipeg, as well as with BC in 1994 and in Hamilton in 1999. McManus played for Lancaster in Edmonton in 1996 and 1997, then the duo were reunited in Hamilton, and it was there, that he and Lancaster had the most success.

In 1999, he led the CFL with 28 touchdown passes and 5,334 yards. He set a team record for yards passing, attempts, completions, and touchdown passes. In leading the Tiger-Cats to the Grey Cup, he earned the Most Outstanding Player Award, as well as Eastern and CFL All-Stars along the way.

In 2000, McManus threw for over 300 yards in seven games, surpassing the 400- yard mark on three of them. On July 25, 2002 McManus threw a career high 513 yards and three touchdowns.

He was only the third player in the Tiger-Cats franchise history to reach the 500 yard passing plateau in a single game.

At the time of his retirement, McManus was second all-time in passing yards with 53, 255 and held the franchise record with the Tiger-Cats for: most career passing yards (33,841), most career pass attempts (4,257), most career pass completions (2,368), and most career touchdown passes with 164.

Like most US-born players, the Florida State grad has no reason to believe he'd be a Hall of Famer.

Instead, he was just grateful to be given a chance to earn a living.

"Just to come to Canada, fall in love with this country, fall in love with the fans, and just enjoy playing the game is what I'm very thankful for," he said.

McManus loved playing the CFL game.

"From a quarterback standpoint, all I was concerned about was just putting the ball up in the air and seeing what happens," he said. "I was never really concerned about who caught the ball, as my touchdown-interception ratio will tell you, (250 TDs vs. 281 interceptions) but I was just out there happy with be playing, throwing the ball around and winning games."

The native of Dania Beach, Florida, will join a teammate from the 1999 team, rush end Joe Montford, former Calgary receiver Terry Vaughn, and Ken Lehmann in the player category along with Gino Fracas and legendary CFL coach Don Matthews in the builder category. Chris Flynn, a former star quarterback at Saint Mary's University, will also be inducted in the player section in the class of 2011.

"To go into the locker room, with some of the greatest names in CFL history, and to know that those guys have called and welcomed me means a lot," said McManus. "It's a locker room that I'll never have to retire from, it's a locker room that I'll never have to get cut from. It's a locker room of some of the greatest players that paved the way for guys that are playing today. It's a great honour and it hasn't really hit me yet. I think that week in Calgary, seeing the faces of those guys out there, meeting them and telling stories, is something I never imagined."

Induction Weekend starts Thursday, September 15, with a Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament, a Welcome Breakfast, followed by the Gala Induction Dinner on September 16, and the Hall of Fame Game on September 17, which features the hometown Stampeders hosting the BC Lions.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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