Friday, June 13, 2008

Preserve the CFL: Legal Edition

So after terminating their decade long agreement with the NFL, the CFL has taken things one step further. In hopes of negating any possibility of the Buffalo Bills relocation to Toronto (which I still see as highly unlikely with the persistent desire to return an NFL franchise to Los Angeles), Bill S-238 is being put forth by Senator Larry Campbell, stating that "no person owning or operating a football team within a foreign league shall require or permit that team to play football in Canada." This is with obvious hopes of keeping the Toronto market in tact, as everyone in the League believes that without Hogtown, the CFL will inevitably fail.

The League could have gone one of two ways - embrace the NFL even further, turn it into something like NFL Europe by allowing teams to draft players and sure put their respective team logos on their helmets, but allow the players to still get some playing experience by sending them up north first - OR - cut all ties with the giant down south thereby becoming an autonomous organization, negate any concerns a player may take off in the Option Year of their contract (as it had been with the previous contract with the NFL), and take a shot at running their own ship all on their own, with no ties or assistance from anyone else.

Obviously clear they chose the latter, and while this is all well and good in preserving the Canadian game, I get the feeling this is one of those things that could dramatically help or severely harm the Game. And unless things change in a hurry, harm may be the unfortunate reality.

The issue I have is with the way the CFL appears completely content to operate like a minor league product - or maybe just a Senior Men's League? How many washed-up/exiled NFL players are going to make their way up here to spend the twilight days of their playing career? And how long are we fans going to remain content with this practice?

For the CFL to succeed completely on its own the mindset has to change within the league, it needs to reintroduce that "Radically Canadian" perspective, reignite the Canadian public in THEIR game! I have the feeling the mess surrounding the Hockey Theme has created far more of a backlash with the Canadian public then a CFL folding ever would, and I hate to think that way but it's likely true. This bill before the Senate is one dramatic leap that needs to be followed by at least one more, if not a series of moves to restore the Canadian game, and restore interest from the Canadian public.

Yes the League still needs to go South for talent as well, but butting head-to-head against the NFL will rarely lead to a CFL win in recruiting. I hope is a sign that the League, no longer willing to pander to the NFL, will also start acting as a professional product as well. That aggressive moves show they're not just going to take the scraps anymore. Even if this bill does not pass, I hope this is a sign that the CFL is about to get serious. I hope so anyways...


Andrew Bucholtz said...

Good post, Mike. One thing: it's Senator Larry Campbell, not Larry Smith. He used to be the mayor of Vancouver.

Mike said... close! :) I feel shame, but change has been made thanks for the heads up

sager said...

No worries... two minutes by yourself, you feel shame, you know.

Wasn't there a football coach named Larry Smith?

Duane Rollins said...

Step one: Change domestic rules to require another "non-import" per team. Do so for each of the next three years

Step two: giving teams a three year heads up, institute a rule that requires each team to carry one "non-import" QB.

Step three: Dramatically increase partnerships with the CJFL and CIS football. Share resources. Focus on developing Canadian talent.

Step four: Get into Halifax (or Moncton).

Step five: Meet the possibility of a NFL team in Toronto head on. Don't be scared of it. Look at it as an opportunity. The NFL would only conflict with the CFL for two months a year--if you moved the start of the season up a month even less. There is no reason to think that people can't be fans of both games, even in Toronto.

(I'm starting to get the football itch again...almost time to start researching the Top 27. Attn: lurking .orgers. I'll be back when I feel I have something worthwhile to contribute...I suspect that will be soon...)

Andrew Bucholtz said...

You're in good company on the name mistake, Mike. Leitch at Deadspin called him James Campbell (perhaps Jamie Campbell's cousin?), no one noticed it until about 75 comments in, and someone in that comment thread mixed him up with Colin "Soupy" Campbell, the NHL's current discipline czar and a former terrible defenceman for the Vancouver Canucks. I'm just amazed no one's called him Gordon Campbell yet. Obviously, Larry Campbell is far more obscure outside the West Coast (his career was the model for Da Vinci's Inquest and Da Vinci's City Hall, though).

Mike said...

Duane you're dead on with all of those points, very well put!

And while it could be argued something like a new franchise in Halifax could be more difficult to attain, something like working more with the grassroots or adding an extra non-import player/open up the 3rd string QB position at least to a Canadian isn't nearly as difficult! There was an interview where Ron Lancaster said it's always difficult to have a Canadian at QB since the pressure mounts to play them - well maybe if it wasn't such an anomaly that wouldn't be the case? Just thinking out loud here!

I would love to see them implement even just 2 or 3 of your suggestions Duane, they'd really be beneficial!

Thanks for the reassurance Andrew, maybe I had the old CFL Commish stuck on my mind? I dunno! And thanks Neate for catching that Slapshot reference :)

THE Captain said...

I love when there are rumblings about the Top 27! Definetly looking forward to "worthwhile" contributions about CIS it September yet?