TORONTO—Parts of this city are still celebrating the Argonauts' home crowd-fueled triumph in the 100th Grey Cup, but the football-loving mayor isn't having a good day. He may have been able to evade court sessions to coach his high school football team and duck out of others to welcome the Grey Cup to Toronto, but he was brought down by Monday's court ruling that found him guilty of a conflict of interest (over money raised for the football team, oddly enough) and has him set to be removed from office. However, Ford still has another job as a high school football coach preparing for a championship game, and it looks like he'll be leading his Don Bosco Eagles in the Metro Bowl Tuesday.
What's amazing is how much of a role football has played in Ford's tenure and in his life. His love of football dates back to his own high school days, where he played centre at Scarlett Heights in Etobicoke. Amazingly enough, brother (and current city councillor) Doug Ford was the team's running back, while famed Canadian pivot and current Sportsnet/Team 1410 Vancouver CFL analyst Giulio Caravatta was the quarterback. Ford was first elected to Toronto city council in 2000 and founded the Eagles' program in 2002. Since then, football at all levels has been a priority for him; he and Doug tried rather unsuccessfully to draw an NFL team to Toronto, his niece Krista played for the Lingerie Football League's Toronto Triumph (and then was one of the 22 players who quit over safety issues), he gained notoriety for directing the TTC to send a private bus for his high school players, and he's lately been embracing the CFL during Grey Cup week, even participating in a football game with city staff and comically falling to the turf when he tried to drop back and throw a pass (0:19):
Ford did go on in that clip to successfully predict that the underdog Argonauts would down the Stampeders Sunday, and he won his bet with Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi (who plans to honour it despite Ford's removal, wearing an Argos' jersey and donating his weight in food to Toronto's food bank). He's also got his team in the Metro Bowl, which is a pretty significant accomplishment. He's probably helped the CFL overall, too; yes, Ford has helped promote it at times and has gone to many Argos' games, but his best accomplishment might be the disastrous over-the-top push for the NFL he and his brother made, which could further turn that league off Canadian expansion.
The off-field scene hasn't gone as well for Ford lately, though, and Monday's decision could leave Toronto looking for a new mayor. Perhaps the city should follow precedent and consider one of the most popular figures of this last week: Marty the horse? Of course, Ford could win on appeal or run and win again, so this doesn't necessarily mean the end for him as Toronto's mayor. Unless things change, though, Ford may wind up as a football champion but a political failure.