On the day the 108th Grey Cup was supposed to be played, the Edmonton Ex-imos set a new franchise record and announced details of procedure and fan involvement towards selecting a new team name.
The inaugural Joey’s 50-50 smashed all previous records established by the EE Football Team that led all leagues, until recently, in records for 50-50 payouts, including the biggest jackpot of all at $410,982.50 set in 2018.
That record — an EE and CFL record — was eclipsed at 6:38 p.m. When time expired at 8 p.m., Sunday’s one-day online raffle in support of the Joey Moss Memorial Fund came oh, so close to becoming the Moss Million. It ended up at $991,800 — a payout of $495,900.
But as mind-boggling as that number ended up, there was another even more staggering number produced than the amount of money raised to honour the memory of Moss, the team locker-room attendant of 35 years.
Sunday, as Joey’s 50-50 got underway, the club revealed the procedure that will come into play toward the determination of a new name for the team and the process of erasing “Eskimos.” And when I asked CEO Chris Presson just how expensive the entire process is projecting to be, he had a one-word answer.
“Millions,” he said.
“Plural?” I inquired.
“Yes. More than two million.”
So far, the team has erased “Eskimos” from the field in both end zones and painted over the massive “Eskimos” sign that stretched the length of the press box.
“The name is located in so many places within the stadium, recreation centre, locker-room, players lounge, training room, and on uniforms, practice gear, in the team store, inside the Green and Gold room and so many other locations,” said Presson. “All social platforms have to be changed, merchandise, trailers, vehicles, letterhead, business cards, directional signage and so many more items. The more you begin to look, the more you begin to see and find.
“It’s on our helmets. Uniforms have to be changed for next season to have ‘Edmonton’ instead of ‘Eskimos’ on the front. We have a million dollars of merchandise inventory alone and the majority has to be reordered.”
Then there was the reaction of Edmonton to the inaugural 50-50 to raise money for the Winnifred Stewart Foundation, where Joey took all his schooling and lived for the past 14 years and was the face of the Empties To Winn bottle drive.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Candace Smallwood of the Winnifred Steward Foundation. “In a little over three hours, the portion that will go to the Joey Moss Memorial Fund passed what our Empties To Winn program nets in an entire year.
“Although I’d hoped for it, I just didn’t expect it to be so unbelievably successful. It’s a testament to how important Joey was to people. Joey was bigger than life and now his fund is, too.
“Thanks to EE making this an annual event, this fund means that now we can start to create something bigger and create some really positive change for Albertans with developmental disabilities.”
Sunday’s team name project launched at the kickoff of Joey’s 50-50 signaled the kickoff to a new season.
“Today we launched a mechanism to all fans an opportunity to provide input through a public facing engagement process,” said Presson. “We are asking fans to follow and share #EENameChange and to submit their names (most beginning with the letter ‘E’) via our website at esks.com .”
Oh, yeah. They probably have to change esks.com, too.
“The opportunity to submit names runs from now through Dec. 1. We will tabulate that information and share portions of it across our platforms and come back to everybody in due time and in a meaningful way.
“This is not a contest. No prize will be awarded. It’s a collaboration with our community. The final responsibility for selecting the name lay with the organization but is informed by the people. No final date is set for the announcement but our intent as it stands today is to announce the name in mid-April.
“This coming week, we will hold two brand sessions with stakeholders as well as an additional session with select media members. The intent of those sessions will be to determine the perceptions of our brand. Our brand strategist will handle this important conversation to gain insights and opinions.”
I can tell you right now I won’t be particularly kind to this organization that once had the goal to lead the league in every little category and now doesn’t lead in hardly any.
And as for the new name, no matter what they choose, from Elks to Elephants, most people aren’t going to like it.
My suggestion is this:
And what would EE stand for? Well I liked what Prime Minister John Diefenbaker said when team president Jim Hole invited me along to the Parliamentary Dining Lounge with ex-Esk and Edmonton Centre MP Steve Paproski and pinned the PM.
“I know what that stands for,” said Dief The Chief. “Ever Excellent.”
EE can stand for whatever you want it to be, including Evil Empire or even what it used to be.
E-mail: [email protected]
On Twitter: @byterryjones
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020