The news of the CFL week centered in some part around money, which may not rank as a surprise when a football will not be sighted for another two months. One team announced a proposed change at the top. Another boasted record profits.
Commissioner Mark Cohon rightly wastes few chances to preach about ownership stability, but how do they stack up; furthermore, how can they be ranked anyway? Unlike the NFL, it’s not a single-file lineup to the cash bar for CFL owners, with its eclectic array of community boards and multi-team profiteers.
So strictly for fun, we’re throwing out this ranking, but with our own set of rules.
We’re going to leave out the team which started this little project with their sale transaction last week, the Calgary Stampeders, simply because the new Calgary Flames majority owners don’t yet have the keys yet and to a lesser extent, not all the newcomers are being publicly identified. In a year, the business which also owns the WHL Hitmen, NLL Roughnecks and AHL Abbotsford Heat might be at the top.
For now, here’s how they rank.
7. Toronto Argonauts – It’s really tempting to lump both of David Braley’s teams together, but the discrepancy between the Argos and Lions is too tough to ignore. Locker room facilities in Mississauga, Ont., were below high school standards before they burned down. Even new Argos president Chris Rudge admits the team struggles with charges of being irrelevant in southern Ontario.
6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats – We’ve known for years that Bob Young prevented the team from going under, but he had his best chance for significant increased profitability when he proposed a new suburban facility and could only get an agreement to rebuild Ivor Wynne Stadium and must move to parts unknown for a year. Not sure that would currently command a price on the open market.
5. Montreal Alouettes – Not sure if there was any way possible for a ranking to be this low as recently as a year ago, but empty seats at Molson Stadium have to be troublesome for owner Robert Wetenhall, whose team has almost been a vagabond in search of a permanent practice home. Points scored for securing federal government financing to build the empty seats they don’t apparently need.
4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Put the prospect of a new stadium and improved product in front of the paying customer and what happens is a $2.3 million profit and $6.6 million surplus for the community-owned franchise. That’s tops for a year in which the Bombers didn’t host a Grey Cup and a long way from 2000 when they were $5 million in debt. Winnipeg may have been crowing this week about overtaking arch-rival Saskatchewan, however there still is the matter of an $85 million stadium loan.
3. B.C. Lions – No way you could lump in Braley’s eastern team here, right? With little or nothing down and a terrific stadium lease, the Hamilton senator has a completely remodeled playpen and a self-assessed franchise valuation, according to CKWX this week, of $20 million. It’s almost enough to make a committed football guy actually enjoy his investment, and it would go higher if the team was seriously committed towards merchandising beyond barbecue sauce.
2. Saskatchewan Roughriders – What they lack in stadium amenities is more than balanced by year-round football discussion, $10.3 million in 2010-11 merchandise sales and $6.6 million profit in their last fiscal year, which is why they’re already making $14.4 million worth of improvements to Mosaic Stadium a year before hosting the Grey Cup.
1. Edmonton Eskimos – You know things are going well when their decision-makers have to practically look for projects in which to reinvest. Seats at Commonwealth Stadium are next. With $9.1 million in their trust fund after indoor practice field renovations that would be the envy of any NFL club, it might even be enough to make the paying customer forget they traded Ricky Ray. And yes, that makes it three community-owned teams in the mythical top four. Thoughts?
There are no shortage of lessons to be learned for a first-year CFL coach and the biggest scandal to hit the NFL in years has not escaped the attention of Mike Benevides.
The new head man of the Lions has closely followed the fallout from the bounty scandal that could cost New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton a year of his career, and has made notes.
“What it shows is that it’s critical to be tuned to your people, critical that your messaging is correct,” Benevides said. “It really paints a picture of responsibility. The ultimate accountability lies with me. I saw that clearly with how [the NFL] reacted.”
It will not cause Benevides to change a routine he has yet to establish at his first training camp, nor address a problem that does not exist at present.
“Have you heard guys talking about putting money in a pot for stuff? Have you seen guys putting money in the pot for the most tackles? Yeah. But I’ve never heard it said or been part of where you’re going to take a guy out or maim him. You’re not paid enough in our league to do that and I don’t think the characters in our league are like that.”
There indeed may not be enough money in the CFL relative to salaries but the bounty scandal could transform the game. Latest case in point as to the seriousness of the scandal came when the NFL Players Association decided this week to retain lawyers in the event any of its members face criminal charges.
Even worse was the revolting audio of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams leaked Thursday, not to mention this chilling, first-person account from someone who was in his last defensive meeting. Right or wrong, it is vial enough to prompt anyone interested in football to ask questions on both sides of the border and tarnish the reputation of not only those who work in the business but the game itself. First off, how smart or downright arrogant do you have to be to go off as Williams did with a camera rolling?
No wonder a rookie head coach miles away was quick to notice.
The story of new Lions defensive line coach Carl Hairston is also interesting and figures to be retold in various forms several times through the season ahead. One version written this week is here. But there’s a lot more to one of the central themes mentioned in the article regarding concussions.
A bit of the information used to fill in the piece came from this website run by Paul Anderson, a Missouri law student whose nflconcussionlitigation.com is a veritable trough of concussion data and worth a look if you want more on one of the biggest topics facing football today.
We pass this along because we’re aware there are those who feel how you look is more important than how you play, so circle May 4 as the date where the Lions are looking to unveil changes in their 2012 uniform design. The changes will be minimal but will be ramped up in 2013 when the club is targeting to come up with a third jersey, which hopefully will be better than the Seattle Seahawks’ first jersey this year. Here’s one vote for a return to 2005 – black tops, black pants… Does the winner of the Wally Buono Award get to announce he’s been invited to the GM’s rookie camp with the Lions this year? Vancouver Island Raiders receiver Mike Schaper spread the word in a cute video co-produced with Shaw TV Nanaimo … What better way to try and combat the media onslaught which comes with the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs? How about announcing a contract extension for Travis Lulay. That’s the plan when Buono returns from a quick getaway, with an announcement likely to come Tuesday, followed by another flurry from broadcast journalists determined to tell you who reported it first… Anyone attending the Orange Helmet Awards dinner last week would likely agree they got their toonies worth listening to featured speaker Herschel Walker. Here’s a thought though: To liven things up, wouldn’t the Lions’ annual salute to amateur football benefit from a hot stove-style, mid-winter state of the team fan function, as is being done with increased regularity elsewhere around the league?…Eight players with B.C. ties were named this week to participate in the annual East-West game in Waterloo, Ont. May 12 which profiles CIS juniors and is a precursor for the 2013 Canadian college draft. On the list: Queen’s University receiver Justin Chapdelaine, another sibling from the football family of offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine.
Around the league: This year’s addition to the list of dumb April Fools Day jokes came from the Edmonton Eskimos, who teamed with the NHL Oilers Sunday for a spoof outlining the debut of the Edmonton Cup. A press release and online video outlined how players on each team would play a game each of football and hockey, with the one scoring the most goals/points earning a trophy and the loser donating $10,000 to charity. The hoax became clear hours later but the donation stood… Looks like the CFL’s position as the only outdoor North American alternative to the NFL lasted, well, about an hour. Word came this week that the United Football League is to be replaced next year by another version of the U.S. Football League, seeking franchises in markets not currently hosting an NFL or major league baseball team with a centralized-contract structure… Unable to get the Lions’ interest, North Delta DL Ryan Lucas signed this week in Winnipeg… Nice move this week by the Toronto Argonauts to move their June 19 home pre-season game to a 12 noon local start and help organize field trips for area students. Chances are it could result in an attendance increase and a few new fans in a primary demographic will be won over… This was on our pages earlier this week, but as this is a full-service blog, here’s the link from a WWE production that caused a flap this week in Miami, in which Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson references his brief career with the Calgary Stampeders under Wally Buono, who probably should have been thanked for sending him on the path to athletic/financial superstardom but instead indirectly slagged him. Johnson: “Do you have any idea how much you have to suck to get cut from the CFL?” Also, here’s a link to Yahoo Sports Canada, which has a similar take and has a nice look at the relationship between the CFL and wrestling over the years.
They said it
Tweets too good to ignore
Doug Brown, retired Winnipeg DT, on the Stamps ownership change to hockey hands: “Going forward I think if a Flame gets sent down for conditioning- he should do Okie drill & pass skelly with the Stamps.”
Kelly Bates, Lions assistant coach and CFL draft coordinator: “Was supposed to do radio on @TEAM1040 tonight at orange helmet awards but got bumped by some guy named Herschel Walker. Sorta cool I guess;)”
Rob Murphy, Tweeting legend: Ryan Leaf got arrested again?… Man addiction is such a bad disease… Who could of seen this back in ’98.. Totally pissed his life away.”
Geroy Simon, after it was revealed this week that an NFL draft-eligible cornerback, Morris Claiborne, scored four out of 50 on his Wonderlic test: “Who cares, if he can LOCK DOWN a Wr I’d have him on my team.”
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