Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Random Quasi Coherent Thoughts

Oh how I long of the days when January was a quiet time in the world. We were all on our post-Christmas hangovers (physical, mental and financial) and the sporting world was quiet with the exception of switching between over emphasizing Canadian hockey dominance or calling for a hockey summit based on the results of the most recent World Juniors.


But in today’s topsy turvy world we have a raging pandemic, attempted democratic coups and only 354 days left of this crazy year left to endure.


We also have the weird phenomenon of more CFL signings in the past 2 months than in the past 5 Januarys combined. The good news is that gives us something to talk about to distract from the crumbling of our world as we know it.


The big news was obviously the Fajardo extension. A move that likely simultaneously extended the Fajardons of many Rider fans. This isn’t all that surprising… O’Day wants him, he likes it here and this is about the worst time in the history of the CFL to be looking for alternate employment. But it is reassuring to have QB certainty for the next 2 years. If Fajardo’s agent was smart he would have negotiated a $5 bonus on every Saskatchewan born kid named Cody over the next 2 years.


 We have also slowly been chipping away at our potential free agent list. Shaq Evans was a big signing (particularly given that Kyran Moore is getting some NFL looks and Williams-Lambert remains unsigned). Jake Harty was a pleasant surprise. He was a highly touted signing back in 2018 but injuries led to him never playing a single snap. I (like many) just assumed he was never going to don the green and white again but he is back. If he’s healthy we get an impact Canadian WR who has underrated skills on special teams. With McInnis, Lenius and Picton it would also solidify our Cdn depth there. No guarantees he can still play at his old level but definitely worth the risk. Nick Marshall is back (an important piece in our secondary). Blace Brown is back (I really like his potential as a DB). And we added Freddie Bishop (11 sacks in 2015 with Calgary, 6 last season in Toronto, an NFL stint in between). He’s potentially an impact addition to our DL rotation.

 

As much progress as O’Day has made on our roster there are still a number of fairly significant holes still left to address. We need another WR to complement Evans. Moore, Williams-Lambert… maybe Ellingson? Shepley is gone and Terran Vaughn remains unsigned so we are still missing half a line. I imagine the guard spot gets filled through a combination of the draft and last year’s draft pick Mattland Riley. We have no starting LBs… like none. Much like our OL we are also missing half a secondary with McCray and Gainey left unsigned. We also have no kickers… but that one doesn’t really concern me much. We’ll fill those easily.

 

One last comment to leave you with. I know I’m super late to this but the whole Chris Streveler thing bugged me. It didn’t bug me that Boomer Esiason slighted the league of seemed to know nothing about it. There are likely endless American’s who know nothing about the CFL. Just because they cover the NFL doesn’t mean they are obligated to learn about the CFL. It’s more so on the CFL to promote itself better. But I digress… My real issue is that thousands of American’s now think that Chris Streveler the best QB the CFL could produce. He might be one of the worst (and I have personally watched Michael Bishop, Nealon Greene and Brandon Bridge). He just happens to be a very skilled runner who can lob up the occasionally hail mary on the run (and Arizona inexplicably refused to run him). 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Catching Up

In the midst of a winter break where we can’t go anywhere or do anything, it may seem like CFL football is a long way away. And it probably is. While I’m pretty confident there will be a season, I would be willing to put money on it not starting in June. But, the fact that there is actually tangible football news to discuss is really refreshing. There have been a number of notable Rider goings on… so let’s talk about them. Unless you’d prefer I give you Mandalorian spoilers… it turns out baby Yoda is the long lost third Skywalker sibling. Things got weird between Yoda and Queen Amidala.

 Anyway, back to football.

Cody Fajardo – He restructured his contract. This is going to be a fairly standard process for any starting QB. Reilly and Adams have already worked through it. Teams need to cut salary costs if they are going to make it through 2021 and the best place to start is the biggest contract on your payroll. In a normal year you might be worried that asking your most important player for a pay cut would be a risky undertaking but everyone understands where the league is at financially and everyone is in the same boat so there is no greener pastures to explore.

Zach Evans – Many were surprised by his release. I was not. I was among his greatest critics last season. He managed to be completely invisible while playing next to Micah Johnson and Charleston Hughes. And I’m not even talking just on the stat sheet (because sacks don’t tell the full story on a DT). But he just didn’t pass the eye test and rarely had an impact on plays. Add in a roster bonus that was coming due and the fact that he’s now the wrong side of 30 and unless he was willing to take a sizeable paycut, his days were numbered. Look, I like Zach Evans, he was good in 2018 and his career speaks for itself. It’s just too bad that Brendan Taman was too stupid to realize he was good and let him go in the dispersal draft and give his 4 best years to Ottawa. Anyway, as much as losing a starting Canadian creates a hole on your roster, I’m not too worried about this. I’m pretty high on Charbel Dabire and am pretty confident that at a minimum he can also be invisible along our D-line, thus seamlessly replacing Evans.

William Powell – I’m a bit conflicted on this. On one hand, I like Powell and think he is a talented back. He did score 14 TDs last season. But… he’s going to be 33. That’s like 70 in running back years. I think he still has enough to vie for the starting role but we had better find a back-up RB who is still in his 20s. We can’t have another year where we back him up with someone another old man like Thigpen.

Mike Edem – Starting Canadian defender. Important piece to keep. Plus he’s pretty good on top of that and seems to fit well in the Shivers D.

Braden Schram – This won’t register on the radar of many as Schram is just a back-up OL. But I am glad we are bringing him back. For one, you can never have enough Canadian OL depth. But also, I think Schram has the potential to be a starter. With Shepley possibly sticking in the NFL we have a hole to fill and I think Schram will be in the mix.

Jorgen Hus – The best compliment you can pay a long snapper is that you don’t really notice them. Hus is extremely reliable to the point where you just assume the snap will be fine.

Lots left to go, but even just being able to talk about Rider football makes me feel like drinking some rye and calling up Bradbury just to yell at him.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Something Is Happening!

After endless months of absolutely nothing but “we hope” and “we are trying our best” (side note the late Sean Connery said it best in The Rock when he said “Losers whine about their best. Winners go home and *#$% the prom queen). Not even through the first line without a long tangent... off to a good start today. Anywho, fresh off announcing a schedule, the CFL announced plans for free agency. For a nation starved for 3 down ball, its been a pretty good month.

Free agency will open in February like normal but the roster freeze has been lifted and teams can start re-signing their pending FAs as of today. Spoiler alert 90% of the CFL is a pending FA. It honestly would have been easier to release a list of the dozen players still under contract.

For the first time in many months, I took a look at the Riders’ roster to see how we look headed into 2021. Beyond Fajardo being under contract I really had no clue what to expect. I mean Fajardo is a great starting point but then again every starting QB is under contract except Masoli and possibly Reilly if they don’t pony up and pay him his money. So let’s go position by position and see what we still have on the roster heading into free agency.

Side note, I’m pretty pumped to be talking Rider football again!

QB – In addition to Fajardo we also have Harker and Hastings still with us. So we enter the season with a full QB room. Though I do expect us to try and bring back James Franklin as Hastings is completely unproven and Harker still has some developing to do. Still we seem pretty good here.

OL – This is spot that makes me the happiest. In a league where 90% of people are free agents we have 3 of 5 starters locked down including one OT. Dan Clark, Brendon Labatte and Takoby Cofield. We will need to address our CDN depth as the only other Canadian we have is Vincent Roy but we are starting in good shape here. 

RB/FB – For some reason we have a ton of RBs under contract (6 in total). Kienan LaFrance is the only one to actually play a down in the CFL but even if we bring back Powell I like have some serious competition. Powell will be 33 come the 2021 season so I would actually be in favour of proactively looking for a younger alternative. Also, if you can’t recruit RBs in the CFL you are a terrible GM. I do like that Albert Awachie remains under contract. He’s an underappreciated player. Blocks really well and can catch when called upon.

WR – The good news… we have our Canadian depth locked down in Justin McInnis, Brayden Lenius and Mitch Picton. The bad news… we don’t really have any American receivers. The only guy with any CFL experience is Paul McRoberts. He got a lot of hype in training camp back in 2019 and I like his potential but if training camp hype was reliable, guys like Joe Sykes and Terrence Nunn would be future Hall of Famers.

DL – Decent shape as AC Leonard, Chad Geter, Zach Evans and Mak Henry are under contract. Lots of hole to fill though as we need another DE (my guess is Hughes comes back) and at least one really good DT. Unless Zach Evans used the year off to suddenly become less mediocre we need more on the inside.

LB – We have none. End analysis. I mean technically we have Jacob Janke and Seun Idowu but realistically we have none.

DB – Slightly better than LB… but only slightly. Purifoy is here, which is a very important piece to have locked down in the secondary. We also have Bouka but he’s really a depth rotational contributor… but his Canadian passport and the fact that he can legitimately fill a roster spot gives him value.

Special Team – We literally have none. Like zero, zilch, not even some guy you’ve never heard of. Now, odds are good that we can get Lauther, Hus and sigh… Ryan back but as of now it’s a big old blank space.

I imagine the roster will start filling up again now that teams can sign again. Unlike normal years there’s not going to be as much incentive to wait until free agency. No team has money so if you think there’s big money to be had on the FA market then I have some ocean front property in Estevan to sell you.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday Morning Sentimonies: (Not So) Triumphant Return

Did you miss me?... On second thought don’t answer that. Let’s just go on assuming that the lack of regular sentimonies left you feeling alone and miserable… not that you’d notice much in our current circumstances.

But I’m back for the first time since August. Why now you ask? Well this would have been Grey Cup week in Regina under normal circumstances. A week long party that my liver and back account would surely regret. The best was able to do was weepily watch old CFL clips while sipping Wisers out the bottle. The only advantage is that I can do it in my underwear. Though the odds were decent the real Grey Cup would have seen me in my underwear at some point.

Anyway, I figured since the notoriously procrastinating CFL finally got off their ass and did something tangible that I should also mark the occasion by doing something. The CFL took a break from offering “hope” and “optimism” to release the 2021 schedule. I mean the schedule isn’t worth the paper its written on and the actual schedule (assuming football is played in 2021) will likely bear no resemblance to that (except maybe the playoffs). But its something. Lord help us, we needed something.

My main hope is that existence of a real schedule assumes the existence of real contingency plans. Let’s be honest. We have no clue what the world will be like in June. We may be starting to expand gatherings. We may be in lockdown. We may be at war with a coalition of murder hornets, former Joe Exotic tigers and zombies Sean Connery and Alex Trebek. So contingencies will be needed.

If I was leading the CFL, aside from being one of the most overtly biased commissioners in recent memory, I would start with a plan for a full 18 game season and be prepared to push the start back in 2 week increments down a 10 game season depending on public health restrictions (with set deadlines for each decision). If a 10 game season isn’t possible then you need a final contingency for a bubble scenario to salvage some form of season. I’d like to think the CFL has those kind of back up plans firmed up… but I’ve followed this league for long enough that I’m not willing to bet any money on that.

As much as the schedule gives us hope, their leading business plan seems to be assume the vaccine will be available and effective and mass gatherings will be allowed by May. Its kinda like back when Michael Bishop would just chuck it deep and hope for the best. I mean sometimes that does work out… but its not without its pitfalls.

The CFL also missed an opportunity to promote the league and the draft lottery. I am as diehard as they come and I legit did not know the draft lottery was going down until I read many hours after the fact that the Riders got the 2nd overall pick. Yay... I guess. In a country starving for 3 down ball and rouges, they could have made a mini event out of the lottery. I mean, the odds of the Oilers winning the CFL lottery draft were as good or better than any of the 9 actual teams… so there was built in drama.

So lets hope this schedule release is just the begging of good things to come for the CFL. My liver and bank account may disagree… but we need it back.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Fixing the CFL Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of my look at how to fix the CFL. We have a few more ideas to go through. One of the them good and then we get into the stupid ideas.

Admin Costs

Remember that I said there are only 2 ways to improve your business model and one is reduce expenses. Well this is one area teams need to look at… particularly the Riders. There is a cap on player wages, there is a cap on coaches but back office staff? Well that’s a free for all. Last year Football Operations accounted for 35% of Rider expenses. Now a large part of the remaining 65% was pretty legit but still that is a concerning ratio. Take a look at the list of Rider Admin staff… the only list I’ve seen compare to its size in the list of players Chris Jones employed during 2016. For sure investing in things like marketing and retailing are important (you can’t take the opposite approach and spend zero in those areas without negative consequences aka the David Braley approach). But when the vast majority of your revenue is tied to games you need to be able to scale back on admin costs when attendance drops or stops all together. Were we able to afford a massively bloated back office? Sure. Do each of those people add value to the team exceeding their wage (aka a cost/benefit analysis)? Not so sure about that, particularly now.

Okay, let’s get to the stupid ideas

More Canadians

Let me state that this is the Canadian Football league and Canadian content will always be a must. I will defend the ratio and the importance of Canadian players to the day I die. But… as long as you have that base core Canadian content, there is no correlation that more Canadians makes your league anymore successful. People tune in for exciting football not Canadian players. So any thought of expanding the Canadian ratio, while very patriotic, is based in zero business sense. Ask yourself who the top 10 CFL players ever are. Now ask yourself how many of them were Canadian. 2? Maybe 3? Did people care that guys like Flutie and Moon weren't Canadian? Hell no. We just wanted to see them tear up a football field. I don’t want to see Canadian content reduced but if you think increasing it will do anything to help the league at this time then you are sorely mistaken.

QB Salary Cap

I have stated that controlling expenses is important so the general sentiment behind this one is not awful. But player costs are already fixed by the salary cap. So capping QB salaries will not reduce costs, it will just shift them around. Look, I think it’s stupid to pay one player $700K+ but if teams want to be stupid then let them. From a financial standpoint it s not hurting them. I get that huge QB salaries put upward pressure on all other salaries but as long as the cap doesn’t move then overall labour costs will not increase. I don’t understand the logic of this one.

Social Media

Social media will not save you. Social media reach is only useful to the extent that you can translate it into additional viewers and merchandise sales. 10 million people watching your stupid tik tok video actually does you no good if none of them spend their money on your product after watching. Don’t get me wrong a strong social media presence is key to engaging fans (particularly young ones) but if you think social media will magically cure all your business problems then you are stupid. Let me also take this opportunity to address people who get butt hurt when CFL team Twitter accounts don’t follow them back. Its not like they are going to read your stupid tweets anyway. Will them following you make you suddenly want to spend money on merchandise? Or will it just feed your fragile ego? Teams do not have a responsibility to follow you on social media. End rant.

50/50

I actually don’t think this is a stupid idea, its just not particularly feasible. Based on the ridiculous success of the Oilers 50/50 and the millions of dollars people are falling over themselves to throw at it, people have suggested 50/50s as a way to financially prop up the CFL. The theory is sound. People love 50/50s and it would definitely garner huge money. The problem is this little things called gaming laws. And gaming laws dictate that 50/50’s can only be run for charities… not for profit companies. Do you really think the Riders would let the Rams take the 50/50 revenue if there was a way to funnel it into operations? So decent ideally... provided the rule of law wasn’t a thing.

What other idea (be they smart or stupid) have you heard? Add them to the comments section and let’s prove once again that anonymous smartasses on the internet can solve any issue better than so called experts.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Fixing the CFL Part 1

Last Monday the CFL made official what people had been speculating for months… there will be no 2020 season. I will add that the definitive news did come within hours of my Monday post. So you are welcome for getting some closure on this for you.

So the 2020 season is a no go. It’s super sad but honestly not surprising. Now the focus is on 2021 and ensuring the CFL survives. Look, there is no guarantee fans will be allowed in the stands by June 2021 so we can’t just assume that this will be a one-year pause and life will return to normal. Given that CFL seemed to approach plans for the 2020 season with all the speed of that sloth from Zootopia at the DMV, they had better start now.

All I have been hearing about for the past week is how the CFL needs to fix its business model. Everyone has suddenly become business guru and is schilling their ideas on fixing things (some are good, some are stupid). What else is stupid is this notion that the CFL can suddenly reinvent its business model. Like people magically assume that there is a way for the league not to be dependent on ticket sales, TV money and sponsorship like every other sports league in the world. Look, there are certainly things the CFL can do to improve its viability but those expecting an overhaul of its business model will be very disappointed.

I’m going to let you in on a business secret. There is only 2 ways to improve your business model. 1 – Increase revenues. 2 – Decrease costs. That’s it. I just saved you 10s of thousands of dollars on a business degree. Any idea proposed is just a variation on one of those two things. The CFL is and (at least in the short term) will remain a gate driven league. TSN is not suddenly going to start paying gobs more money for the TV rights they already contractually own. So let’s go through ideas (both good and stupid) for how they can actually improve on things. And by improve I mean incrementally because again, a fundamental shift in business model is not going to happen.

Partnership with the Players

This should be priority one. Everyone knows that the players are what drive this league. That’s who fans pay to see and that’s whose off-field work in the community endear them to this country. Yet time and time again the owners treat them like expendable garbage. Look, management is well within their rights to run things as they so choose and treat players like easily replaceable minions who should shut up and play. It’s been working for them for years. But there are consequences to that approach. Read pretty much any study on employee engagement if you need proof of that. Engaged employees will lead to better business results.

Now I work in human resources and have been at bargaining tables. Regardless of industry management always wants less union involvement in running things and unions always want more. The sweet spot is always somewhere in the middle. And to be perfectly honest unions often times make stupid demands and management is right in not always bending to their will. But if the players are truly the lifeblood of your business then at least keeping them somewhat happy would be a good business approach. There’s no guarantee the outcome would have been any different but I guarantee the CFL’s chances with the Federal government would have gone up significantly if CFLPA present Solomon Elimimian had sat beside Ambrosie and presented jointly in the first ask. It’s proven to be an effective strategy for the owners to give the players very little and then just hold out long enough for the cash needy majority of the PA to give into the meagre offerings. But thing how much better this league could be if they treated the players with even a fraction more respect off the field.

We all know players are more important than coaches to the success of the league as a whole but one group has things like guarantee contracts, payouts if they are fired and year round income even during a pandemic… and its not the supposedly most important group.

Make Stars Out Of the Players

Building on the above partnership, if the CFL is serious about growing their fan base they need to market their superstars better. Casual fans who know nothing about golf and would normally not watch, will tune in to watch Tiger Woods. Same with football and Brady, Brees, Mahomes etc… LeBron and basketball and so on. No one outside of CFL fans knows CFL players, so you get no casual fans. The league is full of marketable stars: Fajardo, Hughes, Jefferson, Reilly, Adams, … hell I would be that drunken, fur coat Streveler is more well-known than the actual good players in our league. Market their onfield excellence. Let them show their personality. Highlight the great work they do off the field more. Get them on talk shows. Have them endorse products (I still remember Roberto Alomar telling me to “Catch the taste”). The more notoriety your players have, the more casual fans you attract.

They also need to sell former NCAA stars more in the states. College fans are fiercely loyal and if they knew some of their alumni where still playing you may get more casual fans.

Roster Stability

In order to really market stars, you can’t have them change teams every year. If guys like Narco, Reed and Dressler were one and done, they never would have reached legendary status here. Fan connections to players drives interest and drives merchandise sales.  

For example, as a Habs fan (yeah what can I say I have poor choices in sports teams) I would love a Carey Price jersey… but as the owner of PK Subban and Mike Camelleri jersey I’m convinced that if I ever did that I would curse Price and he’d be gone within a week. A lot of people approach CFL jerseys this way.

The fix for this is 2 fold. First, the CFL needs some form of restricted free agency. This strikes a good balance of letting your young players maximize their earning potential with letting teams keep stability by matching offers. Second is guaranteed money. If I was a CFL agent I would call my client an idiot if they signed anything but a 1 year deal unless the multi-year deal gave them more cash in year 1 than the 1 year deal. You gain nothing by signing a long term deal. If you values goes down the team will cut you and year 2 and 3 of your deal will be useless. If your value stays the same you can easily renegotiate the same contract next year (so you lose nothing). If you value goes up, you are stuck making less. Owners need to incentivize players to sign longterm deals. This will put the football ops guys in conflict with the business side guys as from a football ops view the current system is ideal but if you want to grow viewership and revenue, the business side needs stars to market. Coaches get guaranteed contracts, why can’t your top end veterans?

CFL 2.0

Look I get those of you saying pause the focus on this given the whole pandemic thing, makes sense. But for goodness sake don’t give up completely on this idea! It is risky and it will take time but the potential payoff is there (if it was easy, guaranteed money, someone else would have already done it). I don’t get how the same people can scream at the league to reinvent its business model and then the berate Randy Ambrosie when he tries. The CFL needs to grow its fan base and there are limits to how much you can do that within Canada.

Here’s a completely hypothetical example to demonstrate (all numbers are purely for illustration). Let’s say the CFL has a fan base of 1 million and they want to double that. In the Canadian market (let’s assume half of Canada is potential sports fans) that would mean increasing their market share by 6 percentage points within an already saturated market. Any marketing person will tell you that would take a huge amount of effort and time. But it we expand potential market to include Europe and Mexico (again assuming half the population is a potential fan) they only need 0.23% of that market. Far more achievable. Again, not easy or quick but I think this idea has merit and needs to continue. Now just may not be the time aggressively expand it.

Hook Kids

The CFL needs to tap into what Christmas retailers inherently know: The key to getting people to spend money is making their kids want something. Most of us are fans now because we experienced CFL football as kids and got hooked. But the CFL has priced itself out of the market. For a family of 4 to go to a game its 100s of dollars in tickets plus 100s of dollars for a solitary small pop and popcorn. Particularly in a down economy that won’t work. Since no one is selling out (not even the mighty Riders) teams should all have massively discounted tickets to get bums in those empty seats. What you lose in premium ticket price you make up in food, merchandise and the beginnings of life long fans. Also, each stadium needs a cheap menu. I don’t mind having expensive options as well but at a minimum there should be an option for a cheap hot dog, drink and popcorn. Keep it affordable and families will come.

Also you need to engage kids… and not just the ones in the expensive front row seats. If your “family” tickets are in the second deck then the kids up there should have equal access to time on the jumbo-tron, Gainer and giveways. Since the new stadium opened, not once has a camera or prize ever come up to our area of the second deck. That stuff is like crack to my kid and he would be hooked for life for 10 seconds on screen or a crappy t-shirt or football. Go to a Pats game and you will see K-9 all over the arena and kids love him. They get it. Engage all parts of the stadium not just the lower bowl.

Expand Merchandising

I’m not talking about the Rider approach of put a logo on literally anything you can find (though that did the team pretty well), but with traditional gate revenue at risk you need to look at new ways to suck money out of fans. The one that always comes up is a video game which seems like a no brainer. There is already a company that has developed a football game you can play with Canadian rules: Canuck Play and Spear Interactive. They even have Doug Flutie endorsing it. I bet they would like to become officially CFL licensed.

I know its pie in the sky thinking but if the CFL wants to act like the big four it needs athlete endorsed shoes, gloves, clothes etc… I know that Banks’ might not have the same allure as Curry’s or Jordan’s but you gotta try.

Lastly (and this isn’t really merchandising) but you need actual fantasy football… not that garbage pick’em stuff. Half the people tuning into NFL care nothing for the actual outcome and only if their RB gets a minimum of 70 yards and a TD. Pick’em is okay if you have nothing else but I want a real fantasy draft, weekly head to head match-ups, watching garbage time in a blowout to see if a 4th string receiver can get me the 5 yards I need to win and mock my friends. A Canadian company made this a few years back: Fantas-Eh and even pitched it to the CFL. But the passed on it. More fantasy players = more viewers.

I’ll pause here as this post ended up being way longer than expected. Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The 2020 Pipedream

If you have been following this blog for any length of time you have no doubt witnessed a reoccurring phenomenon. See, time and time again the same situation repeats itself. There will be days or weeks of silence on an issue or a player so I will write a post about it. Before noon that same day you can count on a news story that renders that post completely irrelevant. Its my super power.

Well today I am going to use that super power to save the CFL.

You see fans, players, coaches… pretty much anyone associated with the CFL has been waiting for months for some kind of news, be it good or bad. But all we get is either silence or deadlines that are utterly meaningless. Recently we get words like “promising” and “optimism” but what we don’t get is a firm answer. Will there be football in 2020? 

So today’s senitimonies will be dedicated to listing all the reasons why a 2020 season simply will not happen. If history has been any indication, within 3 hours of this going live there will be a press conference announcing the season… you’re welcome. This super power is so potent that it will even over come the news late Sunday that the loan from the government was a no go.

There are 4 main reasons I don’t see a 2020 seasons happening: Money, Unity, Time and Logistics.

Money – The big divide remains, who takes the risk. The players have said they will not sign off on a deal without guaranteed money. This is a smart ask. In the CFL you can pretty much be cut in an instant without any financial compensation. So if you are going to leave your family and another job to be cooped up in freakin’ Winnipeg, you would want some assurance that you won’t quarantine for 14 days only to be cut on day 16. Also, what if you get Covid? Can you be cut then? So this is a logical ask.

The problem is that the owners at this point would rightly be crazy to sign off on that. There is a very real scenario where they get 2 weeks into the season and have to cancel due to a Covid outbreak. So then you are on the hook for 100% of the costs and a fraction of the revenue. That’s not a good gamble. Also what if a player is a dumbass (remote chance I know) and breaks the bubble rules and gets infected. You’d need a bunch of contract disclaimers to get around guaranteed wages for the aforementioned dumbasses.

Add in the fact that government has the money they need and won’t part with it. Which I think is crazy given that they’ve already given money to the arts and tourism. You can’t tell me the cost benefit analysis of funding the arts is better than funding football… but I digress.

Unity – There are reports that not all 9 teams actually want to play in 2020. So its no wonder that a plan has been slow to develop (if indeed there is a plan) when a portion of the ownership don’t want to actually get to a plan.

Time – It’s late August. At the rate this is going they will announce some time in the spring that they were able to get everything in place to play in 2020. At this pace they are also about 3 months late for submitting the 2021 plan.

Logistics – Even if you sort out the money, get every owner on board and do it all before the end of the month the logistics are nuts. Coordinating travel and quarantine for hundreds of players and coaches. Coordinating getting equipment from around the country to Winnipeg. Someone also brought up, what about refs? Most refs do it as a part time gig so they won’t be likely to leave their real jobs to live in the CFL bubble. Have they even thought about that? This would be a herculean undertaking by a well-organized and logistically proficient company. Those descriptors are rarely associated with the CFL.

So that is a lot of barriers.

Look, I want CFL football as much as anybody. It’s killing me to go without it (well actually physically the lack of whiskey and massive stress levels is probably doing the opposite of killing me) but I think the CFL is better off to finally officially give up on 2020 and focus on 2021. There is no guarantee we will be back to 30,000 fans at games by June 2021 so if the league wants to survive period they should start figuring a realistic business plan in this new reality.