May 28, 2020

1st and Now | Camp Life And ‘Wallyisms’

In his 25 years with the organization, Neil McEvoy has worn many hats. After starting in ticket sales back in the mid-90s and moving to media relations not too long after that, his computer skills came in handy when the coaching staff was looking to transfer the playbook onto a new software. From that point on, McEvoy has been a key member of the Lions’ football operations staff. He joined Matt Baker on episode 29 of 1st and Now.

“I wanted to be a part of everything. I remember I used to break film down,” McEvoy said on his journey to the front office.

“That was one of the first jobs you do; break offensive and defensive film down. That’s how you start learning terminology. (head coach) Dave Ritchie, (defensive line coach) Mike Roach and I, we used to break film down for hours upon hours on end. Then of course me being the computer guy was able to put this stuff on the computer.”

We have come a long way when it comes to football technology. These days, every player and coach has a personal iPad where they can have access to practice and game film minutes after stepping off the field.

Being a Lions lifer means McEvoy also has his fair share of Wally Buono stories. One of his favourites took place at a hockey game in Sunrise, Florida of all places.

The duo was on a scouting trip and the Panthers were playing host to the Montreal Canadiens. Lions team psychologist and long-time Buono friend Dr. Frank Lodato arranged a couple of press passes for them on their night off. It turned out, Buono and McEvoy weren’t the only sports celebrities on press row.

“Our seats were in the second row (of the press box). The Montreal Canadiens General Manager and their Assistant GM was on the right side of us and on the left side of us was Bobby Orr and Mike Penny who was a scout the Canadiens or wherever he was at that time and I was just in shock.

I’m like ‘wow, Bobby Orr is in the same press box as us.’ The funny part was, all of the Montreal media wanted to talk to Wally. And I’m thinking, wow another ‘Wallyism’ that we go to a hockey game sitting beside Bobby Orr and all of the Montreal media want to talk to Wally Buono because he’s a Montreal guy.”

Along with the path to the front office and brushes with hockey greatness, McEvoy also spoke about the training camp life in Kamloops and logistics of organizing road trips for 46 players and the big Lions staff.

Matt Baker: