The CFL’s all-time receptions leader spent three seasons with Catherine Raiche in Montreal, including her first working in the three-down league.
Raiche left her job as a lawyer with Gascon & Associates after being hired by Jim Popp, then-Als general manager, as an unpaid intern in 2015. That was the same year Lewis signed with Montreal following 11 seasons in Calgary with the Stampeders.
“Who walks away from a six-figure job to go into the CFL to a team that hasn’t won and say: ‘I want to intern here to build my career in sports’,” Lewis said on 980 CJME’s The Green Zone.
“We had some conversations about her leaving a six-figure job to come and be an intern at first and then assistant GM with the Montreal Alouettes organization.”
Following the 2015 season, Popp offered Raichie a paid job as coordinator of football administration. When Kavis Reed replaced Popp before the 2017 season, he promoted her to assistant GM responsible for daily operations, managing the salary cap, determining the value of players and handling contractual duties.
“It takes a vision and you have to have a passion for what you can accomplish and where you want to go. For what she did, and for me personally what she did for me while I was in Montreal, I’m forever indebted to Catherine for helping me along the way. To me, she was the most important person in those offices.”
Raiche was the first female assistant general manager in the CFL since 1988 when Jo-Anne Polak held that position with the Ottawa Rough Riders. Polak was the first woman to hold the GM title with any pro sports franchise across North America. Raiche has gone on the record stating that her goal is to be a general manager one day.
“There’s some that say, ‘Well this coach didn’t play, or this person didn’t play, or this or that.’ I think right now where we’re moving in the world it’s how do you relate to people,” Lewis said.
“How is a coach relating to his players? Not just Xs and Os. And then you look at how do people relate to people in these offices? I’m so for this women’s movement and being able to do more.”
Raiche has become the highest ranking football operations female in NFL history. The 32-year-old was promoted to vice president of football operations by the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s the same role at the exact age Andrew Barry held until the Cleveland Browns hired him as their general manager.
“I was so excited, I’m still so excited for Catherine. One of the brightest and best people you would ever meet and know,” Lewis said.
“I look forward to the day where it’s not a big deal when you have these situations happen. Along the way every step is a big deal, and I’m glad Catherine was the person that could make this such a big deal and make moving forward for women such a big deal,” Lewis said.
In her new role, Raiche will be involved in all areas of football operations and player personnel, including pro and college scouting, contract management, player and staff development, and football research. She previously served as the Eagles football operations and player personnel coordinator for the last two seasons.
“I think it’s so important for women. It’s important for women to understand the magnitude of what happened. She didn’t get this because she was just a woman. She got this because because she worked her way,” Lewis said.
“She can understand talent, she’s evaluating, she’s learning different things. She truly gave up money to live her passion and now it’s paying off for her. Just note: she’s not done.”