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|Based in||Edmonton, Alberta, Canada|
|Home field||The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium|
|General manager||Brock Sunderland|
|Owner(s)||EE Football Team, Inc.|
("Community" (shareholder) owned)
|League||Canadian Football League|
|Colours||Green, gold, white|
|Nickname(s)||Eskimos, Esks, Eskies, The Double-E, The Evil Empire (1970s to 1990s)|
|Mascot(s)||Nanook and Punter|
|Grey Cup wins||14 (1954, 1955, 1956, 1975|
1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
1982, 1987, 1993, 2003,
The Edmonton Football Team or EE Football Team (formerly known as the Edmonton Eskimos) is a professional Canadian football team based in Edmonton, Alberta, competing in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The team plays their home games at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium and is the third-youngest franchise in the CFL. The team was founded in 1949 as the Eskimos, although there were clubs with the name Edmonton Eskimos as early as 1895. The EE is arguably the most successful CFL franchise of the modern era (since 1954), having won the league's Grey Cup championship fourteen times (including a three-peat between 1954 and 1956 and an unmatched five consecutive wins between 1978 and 1982), most recently in 2015. This places Edmonton second overall to the Toronto Argonauts, who have won seventeen Grey Cups (with seven of those since 1954).
The EE holds a North American professional sports record by qualifying for the playoffs for 34 consecutive years between 1972 and 2005. Edmonton has had the most regular season division championships in the CFL's modern era with 21, with its most recent coming in 2015. The team has a rivalry with the Calgary Stampeders and is one of the three community owned teams currently operating in the CFL.
The team's name has drawn controversy and criticism, as the term "Eskimo" is now considered in Canada to be a racial slur against the Inuit. On July 16, 2020, it was reported that the club will be dropping the 'Eskimos' name. On July 21, the team officially retired the name, and temporarily began using "Edmonton Football Team" and "EE Football Team" until a new name is decided.
The EE Football Club is one of three "community owned" teams in the CFL (owned by local shareholders). This was once the most common type of ownership in the CFL. In 2006 the Ottawa Sun reported that shares cost $10 each, but were not open to the general public and required the approval of the 80 existing shareholders. This contrasts with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, one of the other community owned teams in the CFL, who have offered shares to the public on occasion since 2004 (much in the same way as the NFL's Green Bay Packers do). The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the other community owned team, operates as a corporation without share capital.
EE Football Team, Inc., is governed by a ten-member board of directors. The board consists of a chairman, treasurer, secretary, and seven directors. As of 2017 the board of directors included chairman Brad Sparrow, treasurer Janice Agrios, secretary Murray Scambler, directors Douglas Cox, Rob Heron, Ian Murray, Harold Roozen, Marshall Sadd, Lindsay Dodd and Tom Richards. The club's president and CEO is Chris Presson; he is not currently a member of the board.
Edmonton played its first series of organized games with the formation of the Alberta Rugby Football Union in 1895. In 1897 the name Esquimaux was adopted. In 1910 the club was officially named the Edmonton Eskimos, with the current incarnation beginning play in 1949. Since 1978 the EE has played their home games in The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. They are one of the most successful teams in Canadian football history, having won the Grey Cup more than any other team except the Toronto Argonauts, including far more championships than any other team in the CFL's modern era which is widely reckoned to have begun with Edmonton's first title in 1954. Edmonton has also led the CFL in attendance for many years.
The team holds many impressive records, including five consecutive Grey Cup wins (1978-82) and 34 consecutive years in the playoffs (1972-2005); the latter is a record no other North American professional sports team has equalled. Former Eskimos have figured prominently in Alberta political life: past players include two former provincial premiers (Peter Lougheed and Donald Getty), a former mayor of Edmonton (Bill Smith), and a lieutenant-governor (Norman Kwong).
The Eskimos made it to nine Grey Cups in a ten-year span from 1973 to 1982 (the only year they missed the Grey Cup during that time was in 1976; they also won the Cup six times in that span). Since Edmonton re-entered the CFL in 1949, only one other team--also Edmonton--has won even three championships in a row (1954-56). The achievements during the Eskimos dynasty were documented in the book, Decade of Excellence, with photographs by Bob Peterson.
As of August 2016, the Eskimos also have had the largest average attendance in the league 27 times since moving to Commonwealth Stadium in 1978.
The story of the team's name goes back to stories in the press from at least 1903 and possibly as far back as 1892, the first date of a "rugby football" game between Edmonton and Calgary. It is a legacy of the bitter rivalry between the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, the so-called Battle of Alberta. In the early years of sports competition between the cities, the press in each town used colourful nicknames to insult the rival team's home. Edmontonian writers called Calgary "the cow camp", "horse country", or "the little village beside the Bow". Likewise Calgary's responded with insults about Edmonton's northern latitude and frigid weather, calling the city's residents "Esquimaux" (an archaic spelling of "Eskimos", referring to the indigenous people of the Canadian Arctic, properly called Inuit). Despite the fact Edmonton is one and a half thousand kilometres south of the Arctic, the name "had the advantages of alliteration, neatness, uniqueness, and a certain amount of truth," and thus, according to historian of Edmonton Tony Cashman, "it stuck." The name remained an unofficial nickname, however, until the arrival in Edmonton of American baseball coach and sports promoter William Deacon White in 1907. White founded the Edmonton Eskimos baseball team in 1909, the football Eskimos in 1910, and Edmonton Eskimos hockey team in 1911. Of the three, only the football team's name has survived.
In part because they do not use any native imagery in their team identity, the Eskimos are less often mentioned with regard to the Native American mascot controversy. Natan Obed, the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit organization, has stated that "Eskimo is not only outdated, it is now largely considered a derogatory term" and is a "relic of colonial power". Former Eskimos player Andre Talbot stated: "Sports organizations need to be community building organizations. And if we're isolating and offending part of that community, then our particular organization or league is not doing its job." After Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq suggested that a name change would show respect, Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal wrote an editorial pointing out that "Eskimo is a name that never properly belonged to Edmonton at all, a borrowed, appropriated name that disrespects not just the Inuit people, but also the other First Nations who actually did call this territory home". The editorial board of the Toronto Star sees a name change as the inevitable result of social evolution. In June 2020, New Democrat MP for Nunavut Mumilaaq Qaqqaq responded to a tweet from the team regarding racism by saying that if the team wanted to understand racism, it could "start by changing your team name." Former Eskimos player Andre Talbot, who visited Nunavut as part of the CFL's celebration of the Grey Cup's 100th anniversary, has stated that he supports a name change. Support for a name change has also come from the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson, who called for the team to change its name prior to the city hosting the 106th Grey Cup in 2018.
Conversely, there has also been support from members and organizations of the Inuit community in favour of the team retaining the name. In 2019, following the Eskimos' decision to retain the name, the leaders of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, supported the move and rejected claims that the name is derogatory, citing the fact that the term was created by a First Nations group to describe the Inuit. Several Nunavut MLAs have also spoken out in favour of the name, including Lorne Kusugak, who expressed his pride in the term "Eskimo" during a speech in the territorial Legislative Assembly. In a 2017 CBC News article on the name, several members of the Inuit community were interviewed and expressed their support for the name, with some expressing their frustration that the controversy took away attention from "far more pressing issues" that Canadian Inuit face.
In response to Obed's calls for the team to change its name, the Eskimos organization announced that it would increase its engagement with Canada's Inuit population. This engagement included holding consultations with Inuit in several Northern communities and sending Eskimos players to represent the team and meet with students in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. In February 2020, following a year-long research and engagement program in-person meetings and telephone surveys, the Eskimos announced that they intended to keep the name, citing a lack of consensus in supporting a name change. In the aftermath of increased racial sensitivity following the killing of George Floyd in the United States, sports teams that utilize indigenous iconography - including the Eskimos - came under increased pressure to change their names. While several teams, including the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians announced their intention to review their use of indigenous mascots, the Eskimos initially announced their intention to keep their name based upon the findings of their 2019 research. However, on July 8, 2020, the team released a statement announcing that the name would undergo an internal review, with the results being made public at the end of the month. The team's statement came after a threat by longtime league sponsor Belair Direct to end its partnership with the CFL unless the name is changed. Other major sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, also expressed concerns with the continued lack of consensus regarding the Eskimos name. The NHL's first Inuk player, Jordin Tootoo says that he has no personal issue with "Eskimos" but thinks the team should consider changing it.
On July 21, 2020 the team officially retired the "Eskimos" name, and began using "Edmonton Football Team" and "EE Football Team" as temporary names until a new one is decided. The name change occurred at around the same time as the NFL's Washington Football Team retired its longstanding nickname for similar reasons, although unlike in the latter case the Edmonton Football Team intends to keep its logo which unlike Washington's former logo lacks any racialized aspect.
The current uniform colours, green and gold, were adopted when the Eskimos received uniforms from the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team, which was dormant due to a lack of competition at the time the Eskimos began play (in their current incarnation) in 1949. The colours have remained since that time, and the Golden Bears maintain them to this day as well.
Overall, the jersey and colours have remained essentially the same over the years with only minor modifications. In 2001 the Eskimos introduced white pants to be worn with their away jerseys. In the 2005 CFL season all CFL teams switched to a Reebok designed template but the jerseys for the Eskimos stayed much the same. In that same year the Eskimos introduced an alternate jersey for the first time in the franchise's history. Green pants were also introduced at this time and were worn with their home and away jerseys from 2005 to 2015. The alternate gold jersey was last worn in 2007, as they mainly use their green jerseys. Along with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they were one of the few teams to alternate the pants and jersey combinations of their uniforms within a season.
The Eskimos had their jerseys remodelled for the 2012 season and brought back the green helmets that were worn for the Labour Day game and rematch in 2008, and also the 'five-stripe' pattern with the Eskimos' monogram (albeit with the current one in use since 1996) on the sleeve stripes which was used from 1980-95. The green helmets were worn with the away jerseys and marked the first time in franchise history that a helmet other than gold was worn as a regular facet of the uniform. It was also the first time in franchise history that two different helmets were worn for home and away uniforms. The team also stopped alternating pant and jersey combinations during this season, using consistent home and away looks all year long. However, during the following season, on August 24, 2013, the Eskimos returned to the all-green combination of green helmets, jerseys, and pants that had not been worn since 2008. The Eskimos first wore their gold helmets with their away uniforms for a regular season game on October 19, 2014 and wore them again in the post-season on November 23, 2014 with matching gold pants. Gold helmets were worn with away uniforms in three of eight regular season games in 2015. In 2014, the team introduced their Signature series alternate uniforms, which was the second alternate uniform to be worn in team history (not including throwback jerseys).
With the league switching uniform contracts to Adidas in 2016, the Eskimos again redesigned their uniforms, with the jerseys more closely resembling the simplistic jersey stripe pattern worn from 1996 to 2011. The white jerseys removed the green side-panelling and the team retired the green helmet. The team also removed shoulder numbers (which are known as TV numbers), which was the first time the team did not have numbers on the shoulder since 1965. For this season, the team wore gold pants for every game played, including with their Signature series alternate uniforms, which were retained following the Adidas redesign; this designed remained unchanged even with the CFL switching to New Era as the uniform provider for the league in 2019.
The Edmonton Football Team have a policy of honouring the players who have best represented the team on the field. The player's name, number and seasons played with the Edmonton Football Team are displayed on the edge of the concrete separating the field level from the lower bowl of The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. The Edmonton Football Team keep the number in circulation rather than retire them from use.
Numbers so honoured as of 2019:
+ Honoured posthumously
During the break between the 3rd and 4th quarter of each home game fans stand and sing the "Edmonton Eskimos Fight Song" to the tune "Washington and Lee Swing":
A social media post by the Edmonton Eskimos referencing racism drew criticism over the weekend given the ongoing controversy over the team's name, which is widely considered a racial slur.
We as the real Eskimos, want the name to remain!!.
"There were a range of views regarding the club's name but no consensus emerged"