Football to 'absolutely' remain a part of Rob Ford’s future

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is fighting for his job at City Hall, but vows to "absolutely" keep on coaching high school football no matter what.

Huron Heights Warriors defeat Ford-coached Don Bosco Eagles

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is fighting for his job at City Hall, but he has vowed to "absolutely" keep on coaching high school football no matter what.

"I'm not going to stop coaching these kids," Ford told reporters after the Don Bosco Eagles lost the Metro Bowl on Tuesday night, by a score of 28-14.

"They’re fantastic, I’m not going to turn my back on these kids."

The Eagles lost the game to a team from Newmarket, Ont., the Huron Heights Warriors, who had made it to the Metro Bowl on two prior occasions, but never walked away with a victory in the big game until Tuesday.

Ford said the loss was tough for him and his players. But he credited the Huron Heights squad with being the better team on the field on Tuesday.

Both teams had been undefeated during their run to the Metro Bowl, which took place at Rogers Centre as the final game of a full day of high-school football.

The first half of the Metro Bowl was rough for Don Bosco fans, as the team fell behind by a score of 21-0.

The way Ford saw it, his team lost the first half and won the remainder of the game.

"We made a couple of big mistakes early in the game. You cannot get down in a championship that early by that much," he said.

As two university football staffers watching the game on the sidelines put it, turnovers were "killing" the Don Bosco Eagles in the first half.

Competing thundersticks

In the stands, those rooting for Ford’s Etobicoke-based Eagles banged together green-and-yellow, inflatable thundersticks, while the Warriors brought their own thundersticks and a large contingent of cheerleaders to the Rogers Centre.

A man who identified himself as Huron Heights teacher Christopher Pettit brought out a sign near the end of the game that read "REFS MUST BE PINKOS."

Asked to explain the meaning of his sign, Pettit told CBC News that he disagreed with the mayor criticizing his political opponents as "left wing."

Pettit said he also disagreed with the call from Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor's brother, for people to come down to the Rogers Centre to support the mayor, which the Huron Heights teacher said politicized a high-school football championship.

"That’s a joke," Pettit said.

However, Pettit did say he appreciated the mayor’s efforts to coach football.

Ford had many supporters at the game, several telling CBC News that they stood behind him.

"I wish more mayors would get off their ass and do something," said one man who spoke to CBC News on Tuesday evening.

Following football

The mayor's involvement in football has been covered closely by the media this fall, to the point where Doug Ford recently questioned "what the media is going to chase him on when football season is over with."

The Metro Bowl came just a day after a judge ruled the Ford had broken the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when speaking and then participating in a February council vote.

Furthermore, the ruling declares that Ford should be removed from office, an order that is to take effect 14 days from Monday.

Ford has said he will appeal and, on Tuesday, he apologized to those who don’t like the way he handled his conflict-of-interest situation.

"Looking back, maybe, I could have expressed myself in a different way," Ford said in a prepared statement.

"To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize."

The mayor is seeking a stay of the judge's ruling pending an appeal to Divisional Court. The stay application will be heard Dec. 5 and the appeal Jan. 7.

Members of the media who attended the Metro Bowl on Tuesday night were asked to refrain from asking Ford about any non-football matters.

During his post-game scrum with reporters, Ford did not mention his conflict-of-interest case.

With a report from the CBC's Steven D'Souza and files from The Canadian Press