There was no suspense. No wondering if he would be considered elite at his position. Indeed, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame candidacy of former Montreal Alouettes offensive lineman Scott Flory was a slam dunk. The nine-time All-Star, two-time Most Outstanding Lineman and three-time Grey Cup Champion was the epitome of consistency and excellence at his position.
From humble beginnings at the University of Saskatchewan, Flory didn’t know he was destined for greatness.
“I just wanted to be a football player, to be honest with you. That’s it. I love everything about the game of football and all I knew was that I wanted to play it as long as I could.”
Flory went to college on a football scholarship and to get an education, studying engineering.
When the Alouettes selected Flory in third round of the 1998 CFL Draft, Flory was in for a culture shock, to say the least.
“I had never been to Montreal. When my dad asked me which airport I was flying in to I couldn’t believe there was more than one.
Flory was awestruck at his first training camp in 1999.
“It was Dave Ritchie’s last year as head coach in Montreal. It was exciting to look around and see names like Mike Pringle, Elfrid Payron and Tracy Ham. I was just happy to be there and trying to keep my head above water.”
In all, Flory managed to stay relatively injury-free, going over a decade without missing a game beginning in 2000. He learned a little from many of the team’s veterans.
“Guys like Pierre Vercheval, Uzooma Okeke, Mike Sutherland, Neal Fort and others showed me how to be a pro.”
With Flory, the Alouettes won three Grey Cups and were in contention most seasons.
“We had such a solid core of veteran leaders that we kept together for a long time. It created a winning culture in the locker room, we meshed so well. Guys like Anthony Calvillo, Anwar Stewart, S.J. Green, Ben Cahoon and a few more made up such a solid nucleus to keep us competitive.”
When asked what coaches were instrumental to his success, Flory emphasized two, specifically.
“I learned from the likes of Doug Berry, Chris Jones and Stephen McAdoo. But I was very fortunate to play five years each for Don Matthews and Marc Trestman, two incredible coaches.”
Flory was particularly proud of how he had to evolve under Matthews.
“When Don came in we went from being a run based attack to handing the offence over to A.C. All of a sudden we went from seven-man protections to five-man protections and six-receiver sets. We simply had to pass block.”
The 2002 season was a personal highlight for Flory. It was Montreal’s first Grey Cup victory since the franchise returned to the city. It also came on the heels of a 2001 campaign in which the team lost eight straight games down the stretch.
“That first Grey Cup in 2002 was amazing. The parade down Saint-Catherine street. I look at the pics today and am blown away at the fan support, and also at how young we all were. We had such a young group back then.”
Flory’s career ended when he tore a bicep in his 15th year. It was the only serious injury he ever suffered in the game.
The 41-year old was also a longtime player representative and went on to head the CFL Players Association upon his retirement in 2014. Currently, he’s coaching at the University of Saskatchewan where it all began.
Matthew Ross is a radio host on TSN 690 in Montreal. Follow @MatthewWords
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