Former Alouettes coach Don Matthews dies at 77

One of the CFL's most prolific coaches has died.

Don Matthews was a larger-than-life character known for his abrasive style.

He died today in Oregon at the age of 77.

The native of Amesbury, Mass., who later became a Canadian citizen, announced in 2012 he was battling cancer.

The CFL says it is "deeply saddened'' by his death.

The Hall of Famer had 231 wins and 5 Grey Cup victories on his resume.

He spent 22 seasons as a CFL head coach with B.C., Baltimore, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. He coached the Alouettes from 2002 until he stepped down with four games to go in the 2006 season.

He rejoined the Als in 2014 as a consultant.

A controversial figure who had a high-risk, high-reward philosophy, players loved suiting up for "The Don'' because of his reputation for creating a winning atmosphere.

In a statement, the CFL called Matthews "one of a kind.''

"Upon hearing of the passing of Don Matthews, the Canadian Football League family is both deeply saddened by this loss and grateful for his many contributions to our league,'' the statement said.

Statement from the CFL on the passing of Don Matthews

Upon hearing of the passing of Don Matthews, the Canadian Football League family is both deeply saddened by this loss and grateful for his many contributions to our league. The Don, as he was known, was one of a kind. He was a leader for so many of our greatest players and teams. He was a mentor to many of our current coaches. He was a charismatic star that loved to spar with the media at the same time he commanded the spotlight. The record book is filled with his accomplishments.

He won five Grey Cups as a head coach, with Toronto (2), Montreal, Baltimore and British Columbia. That ties him for the most ever, with three other legends (Wally Buono, Frank Clair and Hugh Campbell). He was a head coach in nine Grey Cups in total, tying him for the most ever
. He won five more Grey Cup rings as a defensive coordinator, all with Edmonton. He won 231 regular season games as a head coach, which made him the winningest coach in CFL history until his total was eclipsed just a few years ago.

His defences and his teams inevitably took on his persona: they were bold, brash, confident. And like him, they were winners. A Canadian Football Hall of Famer, Don Matthews had style and swagger and a passion for life as well as football, and the CFL was more colourful, more compelling and simply better because he was part of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, all those who knew him and loved him, and the countless fans who will long remember him.