EDMONTON -- Long, long, long-time CFL Edmonton equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak is suspected to be among the latest layoffs by the professional football team.

A spokesperson would not confirm the individual status of current or former employees, but noted “COVID-19 has taken a toll on many business and ours is no exception.”

“With the cancellation of our 2020 season we have had to make and continue to have to make tough choices. This unfortunately has included ongoing staffing reductions.”

Fans and affiliates of the Edmonton pro team have been vocal about Mandrusiak’s departure since the news broke Tuesday evening.

“I’m not sure what to say or feel at this point other than it shouldn’t end this way. Disappointed is putting it mildly, I’m crushed for my dad,” wrote Matt Mandrusiak on Twitter. He said the departure was not the elder Mandrusiak's choice. 

“I’m grateful I was able to share in a career that is Hall of Fame worthy. He dedicated his life to this team.”

Calvin McCarty, who spent 13 seasons with the team, said "Pops" had deserved and earned to exit on his own terms. 

"The decision from the organization to use COVID as an excuse is not right... I grew up in that locker room. Like many of us, he is a father figure. The lack of respect is unreal." 

A former account executive who spent four years with the club echoed McCarty, remembering how he, like many players, arrived in Edmonton without friends or family. 

"Dwayne was certainly a guy that brought everybody together, brought the team together," Robbie Burnstein commented. 

“Even when I was working in a premium seating area and I was strapped and needed an extra Gatorade jug or if I needed anything at all, Dwayne was always the first guy there."

Mandrusiak joined Edmonton’s CFL team in 1971 as a 14-year-old assistant.

In 49 seasons, the team won 11 Grey Cup championships.

"When you look at the Canadian Football League and legendary icons in the history of this league, for an equipment manager to fit into that role is incredible. And Dwayne Mandrusiak fits that role 100 per cent," TSN 1260's Dustin Nielson told CTV News Edmonton. 

When Nielson began reporting, Mandrusiak would sometimes offer guidance from the sidelines. 

"He's an absolutely terrific guy... The reaction on Twitter, the reaction in our text line today, you know, a lot of bewilderment from a lot of people that this is the end for Mandrusiak," Nielson commented. 

"Because as far as this organization goes, they've burnt a lot of bridges with a lot of people lately and this one is kind of like that last leg that was holding that bridge up." 

Burnstein mentioned his own Grey Cup ring, which is engraved with a message, "Once an Eskimo, always an Eskimo." 

Though the club no longer goes by that name, the former employee said Mandrusiak's leave doesn't fit with the motto. 

"(Forty-nine years) is certainly longer than I've been alive, and I think he certainly earned the right to go out on his own quarter," Burnstein commented. 

"Dwayne, thank you for everything... You're an icon. You're a legend. Honestly, you deserve a stadium named after you, man. And I'm just really sorry."