David Braley, who passed peacefully this morning at his Burlington, Ontario home, was our champion in every sense of the word. He won Grey Cups as owner of the BC Lions in 2000, 2006 and 2011 and the 100th Grey Cup as owner of the Toronto Argonauts in 2012.
He also championed the CFL itself, as a member of its Board of Governors, its Chair and as an interim Commissioner. Most of all, though, he championed an idea with passion and purpose: that the Grey Cup, the CFL and Canadian football play an incredibly important role in Canadian life and culture, and they deserve to be supported and cherished.
David didn’t just talk about this idea. He lived it. An owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as the Argos and Lions, he often stepped in to sustain and turn around franchises when they needed him the most.
He contributed mightily to amateur football. And he famously held everyone, from colleagues to Commissioners, to account, always wearing his fierce love for our game and our league on his sleeve.
David was bigger than life in so many ways. He was an entrepreneur who started a business in his garage and grew it into a successful empire. He was a philanthropist who contributed millions to health care, research and amateur sport. He was a proud Canadian engaged in public life who became a Senator and, ultimately, an officer of the Order of Canada.
Just as importantly, he was, to so many of us and certainly to me, a dear friend. He once told a story about the time when he was a young boy who rode his bicycle clear across his hometown of Hamilton, just to get the autograph of his favourite CFL player. Throughout his life, he never lost that passion or that drive.
We at the CFL are deeply grateful for his countless contributions. Even as his health failed, he expressed his desire for a smooth and stable transition for the BC Lions, and his confidence in their future. We are deeply saddened by this loss. David Braley will be forever remembered as a CFL legend.
Canadian Football League