Alouettes legend Anwar Stewart wants team to ‘get rid of’ defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe

Photos: Scott Grant/ Photo edit: 3DownNation.

One of the best players in the modern history of the Montreal Alouettes has spoken out against a member of the team’s current coaching staff.

Legendary defensive end Anwar Stewart took aim at defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe on Facebook while publicly commenting on a recent article from Montreal Gazette reporter Herb Zurkowsky.

“Noel Thorpe is not good for the Al’s DC job,” Stewart wrote. “He wants to be the HC, not HC material and not a players coach. If Montréal wants to make it back to the glory days they have to get rid of him and (general manager) Danny (Maciocia). Danny wants to make him a HC but not one player will play for him.”

Stewart’s comments came in response to an article detailing the retirement of Canadian linebacker Chris Ackie, who announced he was stepping away from the game on Thursday, April 27 after seven seasons with the Alouettes. The 31-year-old told Zurkowsky that his motivation for the move was primarily due to a job opportunity, but specifically called out Thorpe for making his decision easier.

“Knowing I wasn’t playing because I had a DC who didn’t want to play me based off me being me. I’m not afraid to vocalize that; how he is as a coach. He doesn’t enjoy playing Canadians unless he’s forced to. He plays them at safety, keeps them high in the post. Stay back there and don’t f*** up,” Ackie told the Gazette.

“I’m leaving because I had such a good job offer. But maybe, if I did have a better DC that wasn’t like him, maybe I would have played one more year. I don’t know.”

Thorpe was hired as the Als’ defensive coordinator for the second time in his career in July, joining Maciocia on the sideline following the firing of head coach Khari Jones and defensive coordinator Barron Miles. He was retained after the hiring of new head coach Jason Maas and will remain in the role for the 2023 season.

Stewart spent 11 of his 13 CFL seasons in Montreal, winning the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award in 2004 and 2009. His tenure coincided with Thorpe’s first stint as a coach with the team when he served as special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2002 to 2007.

The pair later worked on the same staff when Thorpe was the Alouettes’ defensive coordinator from 2013 to 2017, hiring Stewart as a defensive quality control coach in 2014. He stuck around for three seasons and was eventually promoted to defensive line coach before departing for an opportunity at the University of Kentucky, which is his alma mater. Thorpe was fired alongside head coach Jacques Chapdelaine the following September.

The Vancouver native is a close friend of Maciocia, who took over as Alouettes general manager in 2020, previously working on his staff with the Edmonton Elks and at the Université de Montréal. He had stints as the defensive coordinator for the Elks and Redblacks between tenures in Montreal, as well as working with the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions in 2022.

The Alouettes went 8-5 following their early season coaching change, eventually losing in the East Final. Thorpe’s defence finished fifth in passing yards allowed, fifth in rushing yards allowed, and seventh in points surrendered.

Stewart currently serves as the defensive line coach at Kentucky, having previously held that role at Appalachian State. He remains a fan favourite in Montreal after accumulating 327 tackles, 70 sacks, and 10 interceptions in his CFL career.