Jeff Fairholm knows what to expect when the new Toronto Argonauts' slotback faces his old coach, Don Matthews, now of Baltimore, in tonight's CFL opener at SkyDome.
Anything and everything.
Fairholm, a free agent who signed with Toronto in the off-season, spent the last 2 1/2 years playing under Matthews with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"Our coaches asked me what to expect [from Matthews], and I said 'Everything,' " Fairholm said. "From what I've seen on film, they're not doing what I'd expect them to do. His motto is to live on the edge. He'll try anything. He'll have a trick play on special teams, a reverse, a special third-down play, or all of them. He's coached for a long time, but he's a new-school coach. I loved playing for Don."
Fairholm almost joined Matthews in Baltimore this year. But the Argos made an offer at the last minute, and because he was able to couple that with employment at his father's business, Fairholm opted for Toronto. Under new ownership, the Argos are enjoying a revival this summer.
"From what I hear, there was a lot of uncertainty last year," Fairholm said. "Nobody knew what was going on. Players were always wondering when they were getting their checks."
When TSN Enterprises bought the Argos last May, it cleared the air and the team of its financial debt. Then last Monday, ownership treated the team to dinner at an upscale restaurant.
"It was a welcoming thing," Fairholm said. "They've been very professional, and treated us very well."
Tribute for Candy
Toronto will pay tribute tonight to the late John Candy, an actor and former owner of the team. His mother, Evangeline Candy, will conduct the opening coin flip, and the players will wear a gold Hollywood star over their heart with the initials J.C.
Candy died last spring.
Schmoke on hand
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is expected to attend tonight's game, and will remain in Toronto until Monday, when the CFL awards the 1996 Grey Cup. Baltimore and Hamilton have submitted bids for the championship game.
"I feel very confident," Baltimore owner Jim Speros said about his chances to hold the first American Grey Cup in Baltimore. "I've done all they asked. I'd be very disappointed if I didn't get it."
Baltimore will hold a fan appreciation/select-a-seat day at Memorial Stadium on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The Baltimore Colts' Band will perform, and some players will be available for autographs and pictures. Available seats will be tagged.