Toronto Mayor Rob Ford posed for dozens of pictures, walked arm in arm with drunken fans, and hoisted a tin-foil Grey Cup over his head.
Toronto’s embattled mayor showed up at Rogers Centre on Sunday to watch his Argonauts lose the East final to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 36-24, ignoring a request from the CFL’s commissioner that he stay away.
And when Toronto police officers and security personnel finally had the smiling mayor safely through a mob of fans and into his black Cadillac SUV after the game, Ford rolled down his window and high-fived people as he was driven away.
The Argonauts were leading 24-17 when Ford arrived shortly after halftime, wearing a blue Argos No. 12 jersey, with “Mayor Ford” written in block letters on the black. His arrival caused a commotion in Section 129, where he posed for pictures, and dozens of people stood to snap photos or try to get a better look at the mayor that has been making international headlines.
One female Ticats fan seated nearby held a sign that read: “Our mayor’s better than yours.”
Flanked by security officials and a half a dozen police officers, Ford left in the final seconds of the game, but was mobbed on his way out, at one point being pinned against the wall outside wall of the Rogers Centre by the swarming crowd when he stopped to pose for a picture. A couple of fans were knocked over in the melee as police attempted to clear a path to usher the mayor out.
Some fans hurled derogatory comments, but many yelled their support, a few pumping their fists in the air and chanting “Rob Ford! Rob Ford!”
Ford tweeted after the game “Congrats to @Ticats for winning the #CFL East Division final.”
— Mayor Rob Ford (@TOMayorFord) November 17, 2013
A big football fan, Mayor Ford had shared the stage in front of City Hall with the Argos at last year’s Grey Cup parade to celebrate the Argonauts’ CFL championship victory over the Calgary Stampeders.
But he more than wore out his welcome with the team this week when he wore his Argos jersey during a media scrum in which he used sexually graphic language on live television. The CFL team released a statement later in the day, calling the situation “unseemly at best.”
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon strongly suggested he stay away, and Argos executive chairman and CEO Chris Rudge said the team would not be inviting the Mayor.
The Ford family has deep football roots. The mayor served as a volunteer high school football coach with the Don Bosco Eagles until he was dropped by the Toronto District Catholic School Board last May.
Krista Ford, the mayor’s niece and the daughter of city councillor Doug Ford, was a captain of Toronto’s short-lived team in a lingerie football league.