It's not surprising that many in the Edmonton Eskimos' organization are still unhappy with previous general manager Eric Tillman, and it's not all that surprising that new general manager Ed Hervey took plenty of shots at Tillman during his introductory press conference Monday (although it is a little unusual to see such public criticisms from CFL executives). What is surprising is that Hervey did so after promising not to. Per @CFL_News, Hervey said he wouldn't "kick dirt on anyone, that's not the Eskimo way." As you can see from this TSN video report on Hervey's hiring, though, that's not exactly a promise he followed. Hervey said "I wasn't interested in helping anyone build their ego," and when asked if Tillman took the organization away from the oft-cited phrase "The Eskimo Way," he responded "You can never take us away, but you can derail. Double E stands for the Edmonton Eskimos, not the Ego Empire."
Those weren't the only shots at Tillman Hervey took. He also said "We're no longer going to be perceived as a sideshow," stated "We're going to control our message" and with reference to the Eskimos' scouting system, said "Gone are the days where guys will keep information on spiral notebooks and bookbags." He also added "We're just going to do things a way we're accustomed to doing them here in Edmonton — the right way. ...We're all used to the Eskimos being unified. I believe over the last couple of seasons it became different around here, but those days are done."
It's not really all that problematic that Hervey took these shots; if anything, it will only enhance his stature in Edmonton given the amount of distaste for Tillman that still seems prevalent there. (Of course, it could be an issue if Tillman gets a general manager's job elsewhere; that doesn't seem all that likely at the moment, though.) What's a little surprising is the venom Hervey showed and how he did so after saying he wouldn't go after previous executives. The message control note seems off as well, as Tillman was all about message control; his efforts were just focused more on controlling the message by getting his own thoughts out there, rather than trying to keep a tight ship as Hervey seems to suggesting. Neither one of those approaches is necessarily wrong. Also, ripping Tillman so heartily over ego is interesting; are Hervey and head coach Kavis Reed going to say they have no egos whatsoever? If they did, that would make them extremely unique amongst football executives. Egos are part and parcel of this sport, and that usually isn't a real problem; after all, the best way to enhance one's ego as a general manager is to put a successful team together.
Hervey isn't necessarily out of line here; he can say whatever he wants at a press conference. If his preferred approach is to blast the previous guy, fair enough. It just seems to show that "The Eskimo Way" doesn't necessarily have moral high ground over every other franchise's approach. The Eskimos have a great history, and they should celebrate that; if they want to, they're also perfectly entitled to hire people like Hervey and Reed who have played for the team and criticize those like Tillman who were seen as outsiders for not having done so. Keep in mind that most of the success of "The Eskimo Way" came in the 1970s and 1980s, though; since their streak of five Grey Cups from 1978-1982, the team's won just four, and they haven't lifted the Cup since 2005. They certainly have plenty of history to celebrate, but that doesn't put them on a permanent pedestal above everyone else, and Hervey's comments about Tillman show that perhaps kicking dirt on people isn't as anathema to "The Eskimo Way" as previously stated.