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CFL Journey Brings Hamilton Tiger-Cats Head Coach Orlondo Steinauer’s Success Has Come Full Circle

Orlondo Steinauer | Head Coach | Hamilton Tiger-Cats

To come back and give to this storied franchise where it all started for me as a player has been extraordinary. The goal remains to WIN multiple Grey Cups with great people while giving our fans entertainment and a team they will continually be extremely proud.

Orlondo Steinauer

Head Coach

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

× The interview with Orlondo Steinauer was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

You were a Grey Cup champion with the Tiger-Cats in 1999 and tied the record for most wins as a rookie head coach with them this season. What does it mean to come full circle with Hamilton’s organization?

As a player I came to Hamilton in the dispersal draft from the Ottawa Roughriders, it was quite a different city and atmosphere. We were 2-16 in a painful, yet worthwhile 1997 season. I met some amazing people and learned valuable lessons. We found our way under the new leadership of Ron Lancaster in 1998 & 1999 winning 23 regular-season games and going to back to back Grey Cups, ultimately winning in 1999.

Coming back to Hamilton as their Defensive Coordinator in 2013 brought back a lot of great memories and emotions. The community as a whole and the people of Hamilton are passionate. There is an amazing sense of pride and tradition.

A lot has changed since I last played and coached in Hamilton. There was the demolition of Ivory Wynne Stadium and Brian Timmis Field in 2012, which were historic landmarks and part of Hamilton’s rich history. Of course, the opening of Tim Horton’s Field in September of 2014 started a unique atmosphere along with some “new traditions” of sorts. However, the steel tough approach and mindset remain foundational for the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club.

To come back and give to this storied franchise where it all started for me as a player has been extraordinary. The goal remains to WIN multiple Grey Cups with great people while giving our fans entertainment and a team they will continually be extremely proud of.

How have you translated the success you had winning the Grey Cup as a player into your various coaching roles thus far in your CFL coaching career?

One of the main advantages of playing in the CFL is simply the understanding of the league, its rules, guidelines, and regulations. I was part of teams that missed the playoffs and had a record of 2-16, and I’ve been part of a team that was 13-5 and won the Grey Cup. As a player for 12 years, I believe I have a decent understanding of what it’s like to sit in the players’ seats and a suitable perspective on what is “important” for sustainable achievement.

As a young coach, I only knew what I knew. I quickly understood the importance of being a life-long learner and how significant it was to surround yourself with genuine people. I think you are going to naturally tend to lean more to the way things were introduced to you, and the way things were done before. However, I think it is imperative that you have some of your own thoughts that are straight-forward, easy to digest, and authentic.

What is your favourite thing about being the Head Coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats?

Even when I was not the Head Coach my answer would be the same. Head Coach is a title, albeit one with a lot of responsibility. I would be disappointed in my leadership if those around me were influenced because of my title. It’s hard for me to say what my favorite thing is… what I can say is that along with my competitive core is a passion for people. I appreciate the opportunity to positively affect people’s lives; players, coaches, and the organization as a whole.

The challenge of instilling a sustainable vision and model while trying to win multiple Grey Cups is complex and exciting. Empowering others and helping them channel their energy towards being the best they can be as individual people and coaches inspire me daily. I love being around the players. Game Day is Game Day, I love the game-day atmosphere.

You have a good history with CFL teams in Ontario having won the grey cup with Hamilton, Toronto and were the last active player who played for the Ottawa Roughriders. What 3 things do you enjoy most about the experiences you’ve had with pro football in Ontario?

Since you afforded me 3 things, I’ll speak about each team and situation separately:

  1. Ottawa Roughriders(1996)
  2. The first thing that really hit me when I arrived and was walking around was the cleanliness of the city overall. Although I was only there for 5 weeks at the end of the season, I met some great teammates, was able to see some limited Special Teams action, and got a great introduction to the CFL. The city is beautiful and I felt fortunate to be in the nation’s capital taking in the experience. Although we didn’t win a game in the 5 (five) weeks that I was there and the franchise eventually folded, it was the springboard to my professional football career.

  3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats(1997-1999)
  4. When I was selected in the dispersal draft by Hamilton I was actually surprised, due to the limited game film I had accrued from the previous season. The 1997 season was not noteworthy from the standpoint of our win/loss record, but there were some great individual accomplishments and amazing teammates that I am friends with to this day. The passion of the fans and the community was unwavering. The accomplishments were beyond memorable including the time we hoisted the 1999 Grey Cup. I remember the intense rivalry with the team down the QEW… the Toronto Argonauts.

  5. Toronto Argonauts (2001-2009)
  6. I made one of the most difficult but best decisions of my professional playing career by signing as a free agent with the arch-rival Toronto Argonauts. Like in Hamilton, it didn’t start off great in Toronto record-wise but when 2004 came to pass we were Grey Cup Champions. Again, I made life-long friends and was blessed by the daily presence of Michael “Pinball” Clemons. I enjoyed the extreme competition against our adversary, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Toronto has its own die-hard fans that are full of passion that I really grew to appreciate.

Overall, football in Ontario has given my family and I an opportunity to create a life and raise a family. We have lived full-time in Ontario since 2003. We are dual citizens of Canada and the United States. I’ve enjoyed all of my experiences in Ottawa, Toronto, and Hamilton. They are all special in their own distinctive ways.

You and Mike O’Shea have been closely linked during your time in the league as players, having been a part of the same trade between Hamilton and Toronto in 2000, were grey cup champion teammates on the Argonauts in 2004, were on the same 2012 coaching staff in Toronto and won the 2012 Grey Cup, and coached against each other in the 2019 grey cup. Talk about the strength of relationship and what it means to be connected closely after all these years?

Where to begin…

Mike O’Shea and I first met as teammates on the Detroit Lions in 1996. It was apparent to me at that time that O’sh was the type of man to give you all he’s got, he was extremely competitive, and a great teammate.

When O’sh and I became teammates again in 2001 in Toronto, we began a bond as what I would describe in the beginning as a mutual widespread respect. We had similar approaches to off-season training, in-season preparation, and a strong desire to make those around us better, all while handling our own business as players.

Our connection became stronger… not just stronger, but more appreciative, more flexible, more trusting of one another. We both lead in our own ways but shared common goals of wanting to be the best we could individually, wanting to be a part of dominant defences, and ultimately win Grey Cups.

Winning Grey Cups as players and coaches together means we will always be champions for life. Hall Of Famer O’sh gets well-deserved notoriety for being a hard-nosed tough football player, but not enough acknowledgment as a person and teammate. He has a great sense of humour and discernment that is outstanding.

O’sh will be a lifelong friend of mine. I respect the way he has battled through his own hardships football-wise and eventually becoming a Grey Cup champion. Unfortunately, it came against me, my players, my coaches, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cat organization. I suspect that it is not the last time that O’sh and I will end up competing against each other in really meaningful games. I hope that we are on the same side again at some point in our careers chasing greatness together again.

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

Winning Coach of the Year as a rookie Head Coach is no small feat. Orlondo Steinauer, Head Coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, is the best up and coming Head Coach in the CFL. After having watched the success that Orlondo has brought to Hamilton after one year of coaching, it is exciting to see where he will bring them in the future. It was phenomenal to get the chance to interview him and get an in-depth look at how his career has centred around growing successes in the province of Ontario. Having 2 Grey Cups as a player and another two as an assistant coach, his mission is to return Canada’s prized trophy to Steel Town and I can’t wait to see how next season will play out.

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