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Argos GM Jim Barker entertains questions online from football fans

03/18/2015 05:41 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Jim Barker knows how to ensure star quarterback Ricky Ray remains with the Toronto Argonauts.

Re-sign head coach Scott Milanovich.

Ray and Milanovich are both in the final yeas of their contract. Barker hired Milanovich as Toronto's head coach prior to the 2012 season, then acquired Ray in a blockbuster deal from the Edmonton Eskimos.

Milanovich and Ray capped their first season together in style as Toronto beat the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 in the 100th Grey Cup game played at Rogers Centre.

Barker participated in an online question-and-answer session Wednesday and was asked if he intends to keep Ray, 35, in Toronto.

"Absolutely," Barker commented. "Ricky Ray is perfect for this offence.

"He and Scott have formed a tight bond and signing 1 will probably help to signing the other."

Barker answered over 70 questions — many Argos related but also others regarding his time in the XFL and favourite sandwich — during the one-hour 40-minute session. Barker said the trade for Ray began innocently enough.

"Just a conversation between GMs talking about other players and his name came up," Barker said. "You know, there was just back and forth and it happened."

Predictably, Barker was asked about Toronto's stadium issue. The Argos' lease at Rogers Centre expires after the '17 season and the Argos haven't found a new home yet although owner David Braley and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment continue talking about the club playing at a revamped BMO Field.

"Well obviously we're hopeful for some positive resolutions soon," Barker said.

Barker responded humorously regarding if he thought the CFL would expand to 10 teams — Halifax and Moncton have both been mentioned as potential sites — during his tenure.

"I certainly hope so," he said. "I love the Atlantic region.

"Lobster..."

Barker also had some advice for incoming CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge, who was hired Tuesday.

"Be strong in your convictions," Barker said.

Another fan asked Barker which player he'd take from an existing CFL team. Barker said answering that question could land him in hot water with Orridge.

"The new commish has been here for one day and you're trying to get me fined already?" he asked.

Barker also provided a tongue-in-cheek response regarding which CFL rule he'd like changed.

"Allow GM's to talk to officials on the field," he said.

Last year, Barker was fined $2,500 for standing behind an official and trying to speak to him during a regular-season game with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Barker was also banned from the sidelines for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.

In 2000, Barker served as the offensive co-ordinator for the XFL-champion Los Angeles Xtreme. Although the league created by wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon was widely ridiculed for sub-par play and over-the-top antics, Barker praised its payscale.

"Every player made the same amount of money," he said. "QB's got $5000 more and kickers got $5000 less.

"The team that won got $2300 and the team that lost got nothing beyond their base salary. It was the way pro football should be. Paid on results. That league was not afraid to try new things and create excitement for fans."

Other questions included:

— The favourite and least favourite parts of his job: "My favourite part is dealing with the players and coaches. Least favourite part is dealing with the agents."

— Something Argos fans don't know about a GM: "You have to be decent at math."

— What constitutes an A-plus sandwich: "It would have spicy peppers and spolumbo sausage."

The final question regarded Barker's favourite cheer. But it was followed by expletives directed at the Argos, then ended with Hamilton's traditional chant.

"Holy Mackinaw," Barker responded.

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