Monday, January 30, 2017 — TORONTO (January 31, 2017) – Jeffrey L. Orridge, the first black Commissioner of the Canadian Football League, has been chosen to receive the African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Sports for his “trailblazing accomplishments”.
Organizers announced that Orridge will be one of 15 high profile black Canadians who will be celebrated as “contemporary Black history makers” at the African Canadian Achievement Awards (ACAA) annual gala on February 25 at the Jane Mallett Theatre inside the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.
"This is especially important for our community, in this, the year of the 150th birthday of Canada, because Mr. Orridge's many noteworthy accomplishments, in a little over a year since he assumed his current position, and in his previous executive roles, exemplifies the significant contributions made by African Canadians to the development of our nation,” said Michael L. Van Cooten, Founder, Chair and CEO of the ACAA.
"Our community is looking forward to honouring this distinguished gentleman, who is the first person of African ancestry to achieve the significant position of CFL Commissioner."
Past recipients of the ACAA for Excellence in Sports include Raymond Gray Lewis, the first Canadian born black Olympic medalist, former Blue Jays Manager Cito Gaston and baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins. Past recipients from the CFL include Grey Cup champions Michael “Pinball” Clemons, Bruce Smith and Chuck Ealey.
Past recipients of African Canadian Achievement Awards from other walks of life include Canadian jazz icon Oscar Peterson, Canada’s first black cabinet minister, the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, and opera singer and concert artist Measha Brueggergosman.
The African Canadian Achievement Awards were founded in 1985 by Van Cooten, the Publisher and Editor of Pride News Magazine, which still organizes and hosts the awards under the stewardship of Joan Pierre, their Producer.
The 13th Commissioner of the CFL, Orridge has a lifelong passion for sport and more than 20 years of experience is building major brands and businesses.
Working with the CFL’s Board of Governors and its nine teams, he is repositioning the CFL for the future.
Less than two years into his term, Orridge has led the league as it has innovated in the game of football, expanding the use of video review, modernized its regulations, including the introduction of an enhanced drug testing program, and embraced new technology, by ushering in dynamic and mobile digital platforms.
Orridge has extended the league’s landmark broadcast agreement with TSN and RDS, and added adidas as the official outfitter of the CFL and Shaw as the first presenting partner of the Grey Cup.
He has placed an emphasis on ensuring the league is progressive and inclusive, announcing the CFL’s first policy on violence against women including mandatory training, and engaging the LGBTQ community through a number of initiatives, including participation in the Toronto Pride Parade and awareness training delivered at the team and league level as part of a partnership with You Can Play.
Orridge came to the CFL from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where he was the Executive Director of Sports and General Manager, Olympics. Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer and head of Global Business Development for Right to Play International, VP of worldwide consumer products for Mattel Inc., Director of Sport Licensing for Warner Bros., Director of Global Sports Marketing for Reebok International and Assistant Executive Director of USA Basketball.
Born and raised in New York, Orridge lists becoming a Canadian citizen as one of his proudest moments.