TORONTO — Leo Cahill, the colorful former coach and general manager of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, died Friday. He was 89.
“Leo The Lip” was Toronto’s coach from 1967-72 and 1977-78 and general manager from 1986-88.
“In the long and colorful history of the Canadian Football League, few have left as lasting an impression, or added as much color, as Leo Cahill,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “He was truly one of a kind. His showmanship, however, may have led some to overlook his deep knowledge of the game. He had a keen eye for football talent and an ability to knit diverse and sometimes equally flamboyant personalities into a winning team.”
Under Cahill’s guidance Toronto lost in the Grey Cup in 1971 and 1987. He wrote a book titled “Goodbye Argos” in 1973.
“Leo had a knack for identifying players, a talent for getting the best out of them on the field and a passion for promoting the game he loved,” the Argos said in a statement. “The Argos and Toronto fans will remain forever grateful for Leo’s lasting contributions to our organization and Canadian football as a whole.”
Cahill played at the University of Illinois, appearing in the 1947 Rose Bowl, and served in Korea in the U.S. Army. He entered coaching at his alma mater and had stops at Lewis, South Carolina and Toledo before breaking into the CFL in 1960 as a Montreal assistant.
After his first coaching stint with the Argonauts, Cahill returned to football in 1974 as the GM of the World Football League’s Toronto Northmen. But the Canadian government said it would pass legislation banning the league from taking root in Canada, so the Northmen moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and became known as the Southmen. The franchise had a league-best 17-3 record. The WFL ceased operations before the end of the ’75 campaign.