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Ex-Griz Sunderland assistant GM for CFL


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Ex-Griz Sunderland assistant GM for CFL's new Ottawa franchise

May 30, 2013 12:12 am • By The Missoulian

OTTAWA, Ontario – Former University of Montana football player and Great Falls native Brock Sunderland will take over as assistant general manager for Ottawa’s new Canadian Football League expansion team, it was announced Wednesday.

Sunderland, a receiver and punt returner with the Grizzlies in 2000 and 2001, has served in various scouting roles in professional football over the last 10 years. His position with the still-to-be-named Ottawa club will involve overseeing all facets of football operations, including scouting and dealing with player contracts.

“I’m delighted to welcome Brock to our organization,” said Ottawa General Manager Marcel Desjardins in a press release. “He brings a wealth of experience and a proven eye for talent that will be invaluable to our organization as we evaluate players and build our team for the 2014 season.”

The 2014 season will be the first for Ottawa, which will pull players from the rest of the league in a three-round CFL expansion draft this December as well as the amateur draft next May to help construct its roster before hitting the field.

Prior to taking the position with the Ottawa franchise, Sunderland spent three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. He became the director of scouting for Montreal before accepting a scouting position with the New York Jets of the NFL where he spent the last six seasons.

“I consider myself very fortunate to be able to return to the Canadian Football League and specifically to Ottawa,” Sunderland said. “I’m looking forward to helping build a team from the ground up with people who are well respected in this industry. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Sunderland earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications after walking on with the football team. In two injury-riddled seasons, the Great Falls Russell graduate never caught a pass. Just after earning an athletic scholarship, knee and ankle injuries kept him from the field and he stepped away from the playing side of the game while facing his sixth knee surgery in 2001.

Then in the behind-the-scenes world of professional football, Sunderland became a scout for college recruits in the western United States for both the CFL and NFL. That’s when Helena-based sports agent Chris Gittings started working with him.

“I think all the people in professional sports that are Montanans, we all have some kind of relationship,” said Gittings, founder and president of One West Sports Agency. “As an agent, I’ve had to deal with the scouts for this area. (Sunderland) is one of the scouts that not only do I know, but I trust. If he tells me something, then I know that’s what’s true. That’s what’s going to happen.”

The CFL awarded Ottawa an expansion franchise in 2008, bumping the league to nine teams. With four teams in the West Division and now five in the East, future expansion has been discussed to even the sides once again.