Michael Clemons, the 54 year old Dunedin, Florida native is a Canadian Football Hall of Famer. Before he got his legendary status, Pinball was born into a young family which was built around 18 year old Anna Marie Bryant, his mother and his father Willie Clemons who was attending University during Michael’s early years. While his father was still pursuing his dream to become a school teacher, and not spending too much time with Michael, Michael and his mother were living in the city of Dunedin.
Living in Dunedin, Florida, there was a heavy dose of sports wherever you’d go, and Michael started to play football around 8 years old. He played for the Dunedin Golden Eagles who were a part of the Police Athletic League in the Dunedin area. He grew to love the sport of football, and got into in even more when he was in High School.
At the Dunedin High School, Michael Clemons was an all around great player! Playing all the positions he can, and not only could he play them, he was great at them too. As a great player at the sport, it was shown that he might have a future in sports. To have a future in sports, you must have good school grades, and that’s something that Michael had.
Michael Clemons went to play football and study at the University of William and Mary. At William and Mary, Michael Clemons was known for a few things, but mostly his ability on the field. In just four seasons spent with the University, he stacked up 4,778 all-purpose yards and was named an All-American as a running-back.
The All-American went out of university as a pro, he was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL in the 8th round in the 1987 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately for Clemons, his time with the Chiefs was limited to just one season, and was later signed to the 1988 Tampa Bay Buccaneer practice squad. After just two seasons in the NFL, it seemed like he wasn’t good enough for the pros, at 5’5 Michael might not of had the size to be in the NFL. The key was, he didn’t have the size for the NFL, but he was big enough for the CFL.
After having just 162 yards in the NFL, Michael bounced off tacklers like crazy with the Toronto Argonauts! Bouncing off defenders like a bouncy ball, Michael was gifted the nickname “Pinball”. The transition from the NFL seemed pretty easy for Clemons as he broke the record for most all-purpose yards in one season with 3,330 yards in just his second season in Canada.
With familiarity to the game up north, he and the Argos had a little fun with the game. Since he was named “Pinball”, the Argonauts PA group used The Who’s song “Pinball Wizard” whenever Clemons made a big play.
After all, it seemed as if “Pinball Wizard” was playing every play at the Argos games as Clemons went on to have an outstanding career in Toronto.
Pinball rapped up his fantastic playing career with 25,438 all-purpose yards, along with 85 touchdowns.
He got a lot of touchdowns, but he liked to get trophies too! Clemons was named a CFL All-Star twice in his career, and was the 1990 CFL Most Outstanding Player. Along with the MOP award, he won 3 Grey Cups as a player and later won 3 as a coach.
Yes, he was a coach! He instantly became a coach for the Toronto Argonauts after such a great playing career, his success was brought to his coaching one too. He was 67-54 as a Head Coach, winning 1 grey cup. After being a coach, he was brought in to be a part owner of the Argos.
As he capped off his playing and coaching career, he fell in love with Toronto and felt like that was his new home. Its only fitting to make it feel like home and let everyone know who you are, and by that he started his own campaign to help children and was also becoming a part owner with the Toronto Argonauts.
Based out of Mississauga, Ontario is the Pinball Clemons Foundation. Owned by Michael Clemons, the foundation is known to help people with no schooling, no hospitality, and even no home and Michael and his foundation have done a fantastic way of making that possible.
Michael Clemons has become a huge role model for so many young kids, not just athletes but all youth. With all that he’s accomplished throughout his life, I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t look up to him.
One person in particular that was touched by Pinball would be DeVonte Dedmon. DeVonte went to the University of William and Mary where he was tought about Clemons and his football story. Dedmon has taken Pinball’s path and is now playing for the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL.
DeVonte “Pinball 2.0” Dedmon
DeVonte Dedmon spent 5 seasons with William and Mary, recording 2,164 all-purpose yards along with 22 total touchdowns, and made a name for himself. That name is, DeVonte “Pinball 2.0” Dedmon. Out of University, Dedmon was not looked at any NFL teams, for any football player that is always the dream and sometimes it seems like the only possibility, although for Dedmon it was only one of the options.
After being undrafted, Dedmon was signed by the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL where he’d be fighting for a returning role in the 2019 pre-season.
In the pre-season fight, Dedmon would be paired with both Troy Stoudermire and Ryan Lankford who are both CFL veteran’s at their respective positions.
Does veteran status mean much if the other guy returns a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown? The question was answered by the REDBLACKS, touchdowns over veterans. In just his first ever CFL preseason game, DeVonte Dedmon returned a kick 100 yards to the endzone, talk about a debut!
After a great pre-season, Dedmon suffered a leg injury which would send him back home to rest.
After a few weeks of struggling kick returners in Ottawa, Dedmon was back in Red and Black. He may be on a team in pro football, but he hasn’t been into big talks, but it didn’t take long for him to be talked about!
In just his third regular season CFL game, Dedmon was back in the pinball talks! He faced off against the Montreal Alouettes, and he proved why he is in the league.
Dedmon returned 8 punts and 4 kicks in this game and returned one of each to the endzone. He returned a 111 yard kick return for a touchdown along with a 95 yard punt return touchdown. He ended the day with 377 special team yards on just 12 touches.
Unfortunately for Dedmon, his rookie campaign has been a little delayed due to an on going leg injury and his season may be done with just 4 games.
Although it is only 4 games, DeVonte Dedmon has put up record setting numbers, stacking up 858 all-purpose yards along with his two return touchdowns.
With these numbers, Dedmon turned some heads, and those heads weren’t just on the bodies of fans, but some legends too!
Fellow William and Mary alumn Michael Clemons is in shock of what he’s done this early in his football career.
One on One with Pinball Clemons
After last week’s meeting between the Redblacks and Argonauts, I was very lucky to get a conversation with Clemons about Dedmon’s success, and what he thinks about his fellow William and Mary alumn passing him in the books.
Lil Z: The Redblacks’ has a returner, he’s hurt right now but DeVonte Dedmon, he’s received the nick name “Pinball 2.0” and is on his way for a great career, what do you have to say about your fellow alumn from William and Mary?
Pinball: “Yes! I am so so proud of him (Dedmon) and so excited for him. I just got to meet him a few moments ago and had a great talk with him about his success and he is an awesome guy and deserves everything! I am officially the second best kick returner from William and Mary (Dedmon #1) and I’m proud of that!”