Big news out of BC this week. It seems as though Cam Wake, last year’s Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year) is trying to use a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to get out of his contract with the Lions in order to pursue opportunities in the NFL. If Wake is successful it could affect as many as 70 other CFL player contracts.
Now before I get into my usual jokes and tomfoolery allow me to explain what’s going on here…
There is a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the League and the Players’ Association that says all rookies must be offered a 1 year plus an option contract. They are allowed to sign a longer term deal if they choose but the 1+ an option must be offered. Wake signed a 2+ an option deal and evidently feels that 1+1 deal was never offered. As a result, the Player’s Association is reviewing all rookie contracts from last year to see if anyone else is in the same boat as Wake. If the claims are found to be valid, any rookie who was not offered 1+1 would likely have their current contract voided thus making them a free agent. With as many as 70 players involved this could get interesting.
Wally Buono has stated that he expects everything to work out. Given the BC Lions’ pristine reputation when it comes to adamantly following all league rules, clearly we can take Buono’s word at face value and not pursue this any further. I mean the mere fact that BC has a policy of offering all rookies a 2+1 contract should not be an indication that maybe Wake has a valid argument. I mean, yes a team policy of offering 2+1 to rookies when the CBA mandates a 1+1 offer does seem to a bit weird but I have complete faith in the BC Lions organization and the integrity for which it stands. They are easily as believable as other reputable sports figures whose actions were questioned such as Barry Bonds, Raphael Palmero, the New England Patriots and Michael Vick. Well, maybe that comparison isn't really fair. I mean, at least Vick didn't force the dogs to commit for at least two years before he put them in the ring.
Now obviously Wake is more concerned with capitalizing on timely NFL opportunities than upholding the integrity of the negotiation process outlined in the CBA. If he had had a mediocre season instead of a breakout one he would probably the thanking his lucky stars he signed a longer deal and this would not even be an issue. But it does bring a good point to light. Whether they like it or not BC should be following the CBA. It’s not rocket science. You have to look no further than our own Eric Tillman for evidence that the system can work. He also signed a rookie who turned out to be a phenom at Defensive End but Tillman knew the rules and offered him a 1+1 contract and signed him to an extension in the offseason. You don’t see John Chick going to arbitration. Heck even that diminutive idiot Danny Maciocia seems to be able to handle this rule (proving that high intelligence is not a requisite). Interestingly enough no players from any other teams have come forward with similar complaints… just a member of the Lions. Sources say the Lions’ Public Relations area is concerned that this “unfounded” allegation will tarnish the Lion’s image of being a good upstanding team that staunchly follows and supports all league rules.
We will have to wait and see how this turns out. Although 70 player contracts are currently being reviewed, anyone who either signed for 1+1 or says they were at least offered 1+1 will be unaffected. But given that our players are safe for the most part, you can bet that Tillman is licking his lips at the possibility of a bunch of new free agents unexpectedly hitting the market. Knowing Eric, he's probably already placed a few calls to the Players' Association saying "Hey, better check into this guy's contract!"