SI Vault
Douglas S. Looney
October 14, 1991
Murray Pezim, owner of the British Columbia Lions of the CFL, is one wild and crazy guy—and proud of it
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October 14, 1991

You Should Have It So Good

Murray Pezim, owner of the British Columbia Lions of the CFL, is one wild and crazy guy—and proud of it

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And an open mouth. This is what happens when Pezim encounters Yurkowski at Goldstream.

"I'll put you down for 50 season tickets for the Lions," says Pezim.

"I'll take 10," counters Yurkowski.

"Don't embarrass yourself. Take 20," says Pezim.

"Twenty," says Yurkowski.

That is Pezim at his best. He cajoles and he bullies. He charms and he threatens. Because of his power, people are afraid not to do what he wants. Often it's not exactly clear what Pezim does, but he does a lot of it. If an autopsy is ever performed on him, he will be found to be full of guile. There he is now, handing out hats inscribed DON'T MEZ WITH THE PEZ to kids and praising ordinary-looking women for their world-class beauty. At the ribbon cutting he says, "I used to do circumcisions." He starts telling a joke that has mothers covering the ears of their children, but he skates through with minimal damage to the moral development of tomorrow's leaders. He loves the attention.

And if Pezim is a cheerful loser, he's positively upbeat about mistakes—or misstatements—he has made over the years. For example, he predicted that gold would go over $500 an ounce in 1989. It did not. "I was wrong," says Pezim. "But it will go over $500 this year." It probably won't. In 1983 he said he would be going back into the silver-rich Corn-stock Lode area, where, he said, he would find the biggest gold mine ever in the U.S. He didn't do that, either. He said he would build a resort in Vancouver that would make classy La Costa in Southern California look like a "peanut stand." He didn't.

That's all in the past. Today has been a good day. Pezim understands business in ways that too many others have forgotten. "Don't try to sell the public blue ties," he says, "if they want to wear red ties." Brother Norman says, "Murray is flamboyant, but he's all business. All serious business." Yet such seriousness of purpose can be undermined when, for example, the phone rings and a voice asks, "Does my name ring a bell?"

"Let's see," responds Pezim. "Ding-dong." He hasn't the faintest idea who is calling. Ordinary business executives don't say "ding-dong." The helicopter and then the plane wind through the deep mountain canyons. "I'm a nut case," Pezim repeats.

The Lions worry Pezim. He is having trouble getting fans to warm to the team. It helps having Doug Flutie as the Lion quarterback, but it's obviously not enough. Already, Pezim would like a partner to help bear some of the financial burden. But he says he's not bailing out. "I'll be in sports until I run out of money," he says, "and I'm not running out of money."

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