Eric Tillman, a three time Grey Cup winning General Manager, was promoted to that role with the Tiger-Cats on March 11, 2016. The Mississippian native spent the previous three seasons with the club, most recently serving as the team’s Director of U.S. Scouting and U.S. Pro Personnel.
In 1993, as a first-time Canadian Football League GM, Tillman inherited a 3-15 B.C. Lions club. Over the next three seasons, the Lions accumulated a 31-22 regular season record, earned three consecutive playoff appearances, and won the 1994 Grey Cup. After spending a year as Vice President of NFL Europe in 1996, he returned to the CFL. Tillman’s two-year mark as GM in Toronto was 24-12, and the Argonauts won the 1997 Grey Cup. After the club was sold, he spent three seasons working as a CFL analyst for TSN.
Tillman returned to the league as GM of the expansion Ottawa Renegades where the club won four games in their inaugural season and seven games in year two. After two more years in broadcasting, Tillman was named GM in Saskatchewan mid-season, taking over a Roughriders team which had only managed one winning record in the previous 12 years, and had not earned a home playoff game in 18 years (1989-2006). Over the next three full seasons, the Riders achieved three winning seasons (34-19-1 regular season), three consecutive home playoff games, and participated in two Grey Cups, winning the 2007 championship.
In September of 2010, Tillman was named GM of the Edmonton Eskimos, inheriting a team with a 2-8 record. During his two and half years in Edmonton, the Eskimos achieved a winning regular season record (23-21) and, in 2011, the club hosted its first home playoff game since 2004.
Tillman’s overall record as a CFL GM is 128-103-2, and, more impressively, minus two seasons with an Ottawa expansion club, his career GM mark is 117-78. His club’s have posted a career playoff record of 11-7, including the three Grey Cup championships.
Known for his ability to secure elite talent through the years, Tillman has either drafted, or found, many household names in Hamilton and across the Canadian Football League, including Mike Morreale, Stef Ptaszek, Ted Laurent, Simoni Lawrence, Brandon Banks, John Chick, Weston Dressler, Marcus Thigpen, Adarius Bowman, Almondo Sewell, Damaso Munoz, Swayze Waters, Kerry Joseph, Korey Banks, Kyries Hebert, Alex Gauthier, Jeremy O’Day, Dave Mudge and 2016 CFL Hall of Fame inductee, Derrell “Mookie” Mitchell.
In addition to his long career in the CFL, Tillman worked for the NFL’s Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans), he worked in the NFL office in New York, and spent eight years as Executive Director of the prestigious Senior Bowl from 1984 to 1992. During his tenure with the Mobile, Alabama based all star game, the event featured 107 future NFL first round draft picks, and countless future NFL legends such as Brett Favre, Bo Jackson, Derrick Thomas and Michael Strahan.
Tillman’s long relationship with Hamilton’s Vice President of Football Operations and Head Coach, Kent Austin, began during those Senior Bowl years when he invited the Ole Miss quarterback to participate in the 1986 game. Eight years later, as GM and starting quarterback, they won a Grey Cup Championship together with the BC Lions. Austin’s first assistant coaching position was in Ottawa in 2003 under the veteran GM, and Tillman extended Austin’s first head coaching opportunity with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007, where they won another Grey Cup championship.
Like Austin, Tillman is an Ole Miss graduate, and he and his wife Francine have two children, Alexandra and Jackson.
TILLMAN’S RECORD AS A CFL GENERAL MANAGER
|1993||BC||10||8||0||.556||4th in West Division||0||1||Lost in West Semi-Final|
|1994||BC||11||6||1||.611||3rd in West Division||3||0||Won Grey Cup|
|1995||BC||10||8||0||.556||3rd in North Division||0||1||Lost In North Semi-Final|
|1997||TOR||15||3||0||.833||1st in East Division||2||0||Won Grey Cup|
|1999||TOR||9||9||0||.500||3rd in East Division||0||1||Lost in East Semi-Final|
|2002||OTT||4||14||0||.222||4th in East Division||Missed Playoffs|
|2003||OTT||7||11||0||.389||3rd in East Division||Missed Playoffs|
|2006||SASK||5||4||0||.556||3rd in West Division||1||1||Lost in West Final|
|2007||SASK||12||6||0||.667||2nd in West Division||3||0||Won Grey Cup|
|2008||SASK||12||6||0||.667||2nd in West Division||0||1||Lost in West Semi-final|
|2009||SASK||10||7||1||.556||1st in West Division||1||1||Lost Grey Cup|
|2010||EDM||5||3||0||.625||4th in West Division||Missed Playoffs|
|2011||EDM||11||7||0||.611||2nd in West Division||1||1||Lost in West Final|
|2012||EDM||7||11||0||.389||4th in West Division||n/a|
|2016||HAM||7||11||0||.388||2nd in East Division||0||1||Lost in East Semi-Final|