The first to prove his worth in the CFL was running back Eric Lapointe, who played for three different teams during a six-year run, and now it is offensive lineman Mike Filer who is threatening to break Lapointe’s longevity as a dominant member of the Hamilton Tiger Cats.
From day one Filer gave the Mounties what they had long been missing – a blocker who could handle the opposition and create openings for the backs to dash through for good gains. He quickly earned all-star recognition in the Atlantic Conference and was named All-Canadian on one occasion.
Filer, a 6’3”, 300-pounder, proved his supporters correct when he recently signed a relatively lucrative (by CFL standards) contract that will keep him in the steel city through the 2018 campaign. And he says he is anxiously waiting for the opening of training camp and, of course, the regular season.
“We have just about all our players back from last season when we were that close to going all the way,” he said here on the weekend. “This season we will have a new offensive line coach from the US and just recently signed the head coach from McMaster Marauders as our offensive coordinator and we are all looking forward to the challenges.”
Filer, along with his father Greg were in Sackville to attend the retirement party for athletic centre administrator Janet Robinson, with whom he had become a good friend during his playing days in Sackville from 2008 to 2012.
Filer holds a degree in sociology from Mount Allison where he proudly had his name displayed on the David Sears plaque recognizing football players who excelled academically, proving how successful coaches have been in recruiting fine student-athletes.
While he is only 26 years old, the massive lineman is already planning for life after football. He recently purchased a small farm south of Hamilton and is upgrading it while at the same time considering options after retirement.
“I had hoped to play at least seven seasons of professional ball,” he said during a long discussion. “I believe there will be opportunities at the coaching level but my dream since childhood has been to become involved in police-type work.”
Thus it would seem his undergraduate degree would fit in nicely with his dream of what police work might entail.
Greg, obviously supremely proud of what his son has already accomplished, said he has long wondered what might follow football for his son. But he shows complete confidence that Mike will enjoy a successful journey in whatever he might choose.
Recruited by then coach Steve Lalonde, Filer earned a starting position in the team’s third game of the 2008 season and never missed a rep from then until leaving for greener pastures. Drafted by the Calgary Stampeders, he followed a pattern earlier set by Lapointe. Eric had been recruited by Edmonton but released from camp, joined Hamilton and capped his rookie season by being the leading rusher as the Tiger Cats won the Grey Cup. Filer was drafted by Calgary but soon ended in his hometown and for the past two seasons has started every game, including playoff battles.
Wearing number 51 he is easily recognized as the anchor of a powerful offensive line. He does the snapping on every down but, additionally, he has developed as a blocker and can be seen moving the pack around, allowing his ball carriers plenty of space as he did for four seasons in Sackville. It is a pleasure to see how he has developed and easily made the transition from a CIS All-Canadian to a potential CFL all-star.
“Mike has worked hard to become a quality and dependable football player,” says coach Kent Austin. “He fits the mould of what we’re looking for on and off the field and his game will help solidify our offensive line for years to come.”
This merely confirms what those at the Tribune-Post have long known – that Mike Filer is one of the finest lineman to ever perform locally, thus earning a spot on The Write Call’s all-time Mountie all-star team.
It appears as though Filer’s CFL career might surpass in length that of those Mounties who came before him – people like Rick Black, George Tsonos, Seb Roy, Phil Girard and Lapointe – and place him in a bracket all his own.
Of all football players it is usually offensive linemen who receive recognition for their fine work and they choose the position for the personal satisfaction they get for making it possible for others to gain fame and fortune. But Mike Filer has moved beyond that and don’t be surprised when he claims the honour of being the best in his business.