I’m no fan of the boardroom side of professional football, and don’t know many people who are.
I realize it’s a business, and business has to be taken care of before the focus turns to fun and games. Still, it’s boring stuff, especially when you’re an outsider looking in (and by “outsider looking in,” I mean fan).
That being said, I’m glad the Canadian Football League and CFL Players’ Association have taken care of business by ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement.
The deal was struck on Wednesday.
“Our new agreement speaks to positive growth for our League and a renewed investment in our players,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “We have an exciting future ahead of us and people around the world will see us build it together. I want to thank our players, teams and fans for their patience and let them know that I share their enthusiasm for the start of football season.”
The “football reflex” isn’t triggered for some people until August, but mine comes much earlier. The start of summer means the start of the CFL, and to me that always officially marks a new football season.
With the first preseason game set for Sunday, “my” football is here – and thanks to the three-year agreement between the suits and the players, the CFL is good to go at least through 2021.
“I would like to thank all CFL players for their commitment and diligence as we worked together toward a fair agreement,” CFLPA President Jeff Keeping said. “I would also like to thank the fans for their support and understanding throughout this process. This new agreement moves us forward as partners in the future of the game.”
Even though I live in the United States, the CFL is a huge part of my fandom and has been since the 1970s. It’s not a placeholder league until the NFL begins play; I follow it closely from Week One through the Grey Cup. Now that I have a viewing choice (thanks to ESPN+), I’ll sometimes choose to watch a CFL game on Sunday when it’s up against a clash from the bigger league.
But for a time I was worried there might be a lockout, strike or some other bad scenario that would result in a case of gridiron interruptus in 2019. I dreaded the possibility because this is a league I want to see get stronger and thrive.
Hopefully, the new CBA will help that cause.
While all the details have yet to be released, each team’s salary cap is expected to rise $50,000 each year over the next three years.
That’s money found between couch cushions in the NFL, but it’s forward progress in the CFL and every Canadian dollar counts.
The prospect of players receiving a 20 percent share of future TV and media revenue is also big, as is a higher rookie salary scale and improved medical benefits, among other things.
Neither side got everything they wanted, of course, but they both got enough to keep the train running on time.
Thus tomorrow at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the BC Lions will be in Edmonton to take on the Eskimos in the CFL’s first dress rehearsal for the 2019 season.
The regular season starts on Thursday, June 13, when my team of choice, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, host the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 7:30 p.m.
I’ll be as excited for that one as some people are for the first big college football weekend or opening day of the NFL.
The Canadian Football League has talented players, quality coaches, and a style of play that’s unique and extremely exciting.
Football season is here again, and I’m glad the CFL is bringing it back.