Jeff Reinebold celebrated his contract extension with the Ticats by eating pizza at L’oro di Napoli in Ealing, England followed by a Limoncello shot.
Reinebold had travelled across the pond for his Sky Sports television NFL analyst gig in the United Kingdom.
“Not just a pizzeria in London, I’m talking about the best pizzeria in London. It’s an incredible place” Reinebold said. “I’m going lift a Limoncello and let’s go win that Grey Cup.”
Hamilton was unable to cap a spectacular regular season in the CFL title game. Andrew Harris ran wild on the Tiger-Cats and led the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a definitive 33-14 victory in Calgary, ending a 29-year Grey Cup drought in the Manitoba Capital.
The loss left the Ticats as the team with the longest span of time in the CFL since their last Grey Cup championship (1999). Every other franchise has hoisted the big silver trophy at least once in the last decade since 2010. Head coach Orlondo Steinauer was on the last cup winning squad in Steeltown and he factored into Reinebold’s decision to stay in the Steel City.
“Orlondo and I are really, really close and he’s building something that I really believe is unique. You try and find the message in everything that happens to you in your life. We go 15-3 and dominate really the entire league and then can’t finish or don’t finish or however you describe it. But it really gives you a sense of there’s more to get done and it didn’t happen for a reason,” Reinebold said.
“It happened because to do it in the first year, maybe we don’t reach the depth of what we were brought together to do. That sounds metaphysical, but I really believe that. I really, truly believe that this is a special group of people and the players that we have.”
Former Ticats bench boss and current Houston Roughnecks head coach June Jones offered Reinebold as job with his staff in the XFL. Jones and Reinebold worked together at the University of Hawaii and Souther Methodist University as well as with the Ticats.
“I was really conflicted. When we came back from the game and the disappointment that we all shared about the unfinished business that we have and then an opportunity to go coach with as good a friend as I have in the world in June Jones,” Reinebold said.
“To be honest with you, when I sat down with our players and we did the exit interviews, I remember flying that night from Toronto over here to London and just thinking those kids are special kids and what we’re building is really unique — I really, truly believe that.”
Under Reinebold’s tutelage Hamilton’s special teams units were ranked the best in the league in a number of statistical categories. While kick returner Frankie Williams won the 2019 CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player and kicker Lirim Hajrullahu was named a divisional all-star for the second time in his career.
Reinebold has spent 16 seasons coaching in the CFL, including two as a head coach in Winnipeg. He’s one of the colourful characters in the league and an experienced sounding board within the Ticats organization.
“I called my agent and I said please make this happen,” Reinebold said. “I’m really fortunate that it transpired the way I think it was meant to be.”