Rob Ford was a character.
The former Toronto mayor died Tuesday at age 46 after 18 months of treatment for a rare and aggressive cancer. He leaves behind an interesting legacy filled with some controversial moments, like admitting to smoking crack during a “drunken stupor,” but he’ll be remembered by many sports fans as the wacky Canadian politician who wasn’t afraid to slap on a jersey and let his hair down.
Sure, Ford typically was the butt of jokes. He was a husky dude who had a knack for looking like a dummy. And really, who isn’t entertained by that, especially when you factor in the whole crack-smoking thing and the notion that he generally appeared to be on a downward spiral?
But Ford also seemed genuine, perhaps to a fault, and his passion for sports was admirable in that it established a rare connection between him and the general public. Ford, for all intents and purposes, was the most popular mayor on the planet, albeit for odd reasons. And his antics usually were so zany, so perplexing and/or so hilarious that it was impossible to turn a blind eye, even for someone not all that invested in the man’s political views.
Consider this: Ford wore a throwback NFL logo-filled tie in November 2013 when he finally owned up to having smoked crack.
And then he rocked a Toronto Argonauts CFL jersey about a week later while again facing questions from the media in Toronto.
You think he cared about any backlash? Of course not.
Remember the time Ford rocked a Denver Broncos jersey at a Toronto news conference leading up to the team’s Super Bowl XLVIII showdown with the Seattle Seahawks? Ford was a big fan of Peyton Manning.
Of course you do. Just like you definitely remember the time he went bananas at city hall while watching the Canadian women?s hockey team defeat the United States 3-2 in the 2014 Winter Olympic gold medal game in Sochi.
Or when he took his Olympic celebration to another level by (inadvertently) throwing his man parts into a fire hydrant.
Simply put, Ford had a few loose screws. And court documents released in 2014 saying Ford once made players on a high school football team roll in goose droppings should have been enough to prove that.
Then again, we should have known well before those documents that we were talking about a strange cat. His stance on the Washington Redskins’ nickname — a polarizing topic — was rather straightforward.
?To me, that?s ridiculous,? Ford said in December 2013 of the Redskins possibly changing their name. ?What are we going to call the Cleveland Indians? The Cleveland Aboriginals? Where do we start? The ‘Skins are the ‘Skins, and I stick with the Washington Redskins.?
Ford was nuts. And fortunately for us, his nutty behavior frequently involved sports in some way, shape or form, even if his fandom wasn’t meant to be the primary point of conversation.
So for that, we’ll tip our cap to Ford, whose off-the-wall mayoral tenure ended in 2014. Or better yet, we’ll enjoy a piece of cake in his honor. Rest in peace, big guy.
Thumbnail photo via Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports Images