REGINA (November 17, 2022) – The Canadian Football League (CFL)’s Commissioner’s Award has been presented to Jeff Harbin, a veteran of 22 years in the league’s officiating ranks, whose dedication to the game never waned this year despite his battle against cancer.
“Jeff began officiating amateur football in 1985, and he went on to become a CFL on-field official, a replay official and our manager of officiating. They call him the officiating whisperer: he’s the teammate who knows what to say to lift you up,” Ambrosie told the audience attending this evening’s CFL Awards.
“But his dedication was never more evident than in 2022. Despite being in the fight of his life, and in a fight for his life, Jeff insisted on fulfilling his officiating duties whenever and however he could, inspiring everyone around him.”
The Commissioner’s Award is presented annually by the league’s chief executive to an individual who has demonstrated dedication and has made a significant contribution to Canadian football.
Last spring, Harbin underwent what was thought to be routine knee surgery. Complications arose that led to a daunting diagnosis: doctors told him he had Sarcoma, a form of cancer that starts in tissue in bone and muscle.
Since then, he has undergone very aggressive treatment, including chemotherapy, and his prognosis is good. His devotion to officiating and the CFL, which has been tremendous throughout his long career, remained on display no matter what he was going through.
“Jeff’s courage and devotion are worthy of recognition on their own. But in selecting him for this honour, I’m also choosing to send a broader message: Officials Deserve Respect,” Ambrosie said.
“We face a crisis in amateur football because of a shortage of people willing to put up with how officials are treated far too often. When we disrespect officials, at any level, we are fuelling that crisis. We help solve it when we acknowledge officials – and simply thank them. Tonight, we go one step farther and celebrate a great one, in Jeff Harbin.”
The CFL Awards are a flagship event of Grey Cup Week as fans, media and the Canadian football community gather in anticipation of the country’s largest single-day sporting event – the Grey Cup. For more information on the 2022 Grey Cup Festival’s events, including dates, venues, purchasing details and more, please visit GreyCupFestival.ca.
The 109th Grey Cup will be played in Regina at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, November 20 with kickoff slated for 5 p.m. local/6 p.m. ET. The sold-out contest and the Twisted Tea Grey Cup Halftime Show, featuring Jordan Davis, Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line and Canadian Josh Ross, will be broadcast live across the nation on TSN and RDS – Canada’s home of the CFL.