Saturday, June 30, 2007

From the Video Room June 30

It's a world of difference in Calgary from 1986 to 2007. Back then they were on the brink of destruction, today they're one of the top teams in the league and regularly fill the park.

From the Video Room June 30

The promotional video for the new Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium.

From the Video Room June 30

BC Lions Ring ceremony, the Leos receive their Grey Cup rings at an event at Vancouver's Boulevard Casino.

The 2007 season

Week by week results of the CFL's 2007 season.

Week Thirteen (September 21-23)
Week Twelve (September 14-17)
Week Eleven (September 7-9)
Week Ten (August 31-September 3)
Week Nine (August 24-25)
Week Eight (August 17-18)

Week Seven (August 9-11)
Week Six (August 2-4)
Week Five (July 26-28)
Week Four (July 19-21)
Week Three (July 12-15)
Week Two (July 5-8)
Week One (June 28-30)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Archives from the video room

We'll archive our video gems here.

August 17- Gass's gasket blown
August 6- Watch him while we can
August 4- For the record Number 138
July 21-A catchy tune and a little dance in Edmonton
July 16-Forty seconds of fame on PTI
July 14-The Argo medical staff work on Michael Bishop
July 9-Westwood gets the points!
July 7- Calgary finds some help in the backfield
July 3- Dave Stala helps out at a Halifax football camp
June 30-Back whent the Stamps were near extinct
June 30-A look at the proposed Winnipeg Stadium
June 30-BC Lions receive 2006 Grey Cup rings
June 29-The Commissioner in Vancouver
June 29-Stampeders highlights of 2006

From the Video room June 29

A snapshot of the Stamps 2006 season.

From the Video room

We'll begin our new feature of video clips about the CFL with this entry from Vancouver's 24 hours.

They snared the new Commissioner of the CFL Mark Cohon at a function in Vancouver. Cohon shared his thoughts on some of the issue of the CFL this season.

One less league to compete with

The NFL has ended its European experiment, closing down NFL Europa two weeks after the leagues 16th and apparently final season.

Trivia fans will make note of the final game and score of NFL Europe which featured the Hamburg Sea Devils defeating the Frankfurt Galaxy 37-28 in the final World Bowl championship game.

The league began its minstrel show in Europe back in 1991, known then as the World League of American Football, featuring teams in the US, Canada and Europe. But success was hard to come by in a part of the world where football is played with a white round ball and is held in like religious tones by Europeans.

After a few years of dormancy, the league returned, downsized to a circuit of six and for the most part set up shop as a German league with one cross border shopper in the Netherlands. The league however has been losing money regularly, dropping some thirty million a season.

Re-branded as NFL Europa, the league found little exposure outside of its small German footprint and television exposure was hard to come by, with more than likely more fans watching on the NFL Network in the US than on the European outlets that bothered to cover the game.

In the end the NFL decided to make a business decision, and a league that regularly makes money hand over fist decided that the experiment in Europe wasn't worth its investment. While it was used as a developmental league of sorts for the Big show, for the most part it was merely a parking spot for players who hadn't quite shown enough for the NFL.

This could have a positive effect for CFL teams in the long run, with the European brand of the game done, players will be looking for a new place to test out their skills and seek out football home closer to their American base. It could also help with early recruiting for CFL teams, which won't have to worry about a player taking to European fields and then reporting to CFL teams later in the season or getting injured while over there and thus not being able to play at all in the CFL.

The NFL hasn't totally abandoned Europe, they still have plans to play exhibition and maybe league games on the European continent in the years to come. But fans in Berlin, Hamburg, Duesseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam will have to make do without their local heroes.
The NFL Europa adds its name to a growing list of extinct leagues, though in this case it was killed by the NFL's own hand as opposed to being killed off by NFL competition. The closure of the NFL Europa places it on the same roll call as the World Football League, USFL and the XFL as leagues since the early 70's that have tried to offer a different option for the NFL fan, fans who decided that the original brand was just fine.

A decade ago, you might have been able to add the name of the CFL to that list of the departed, but fortunately for Canadians, some sanity returned to the league and an improving product and stable financial base has left the CFL as one of the survivors of the current era of football.

Week one

Saturday, June 30-Calgary 37, Hamilton 9
Friday, June 29--Saskatchewan 16 -- Montreal 7
Thursday, June 28-- BC 24-- Toronto 22
Thursday, June 28--Winnipeg 39-- Edmonton 39

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TSN set to kick off season with a preview show

TSN will help football fans get a handle on who is hot heading into the 2007 edition of the CFL Season, as they kick off their comprehensive CFL coverage this year with a preview show on Wednesday night.

From training camp reviews to salary cap explanations and starting line up previews, they'll cover all sides of the CFL story with features, panel discussions and video previews.The show gets under way at 7 pm ET, 4 pm PT.

The network kicks off it's 2007 regulars season coverage on Thursday with a double header.

6:30 ET/ 3:30 PT BC Lions at Toronto Argonauts
9:30 ET/ 6:30 PT Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Edmonton Eskimos

They will be the first of the 50 games planned for broadcast on TSN this year.

When in Hamilton, don't sit near the Bomber players

From a faithful subscriber to Twelve men, we provide this story that was e mailed to us about some housekeeping issues at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber Dan Brown occasionally pens a column for the Free Press, his latest offering portrays Hamilton's home for football as a great place to visit, as long as you're a fan or a home team player.
If you're in the visitors dressing room, well Charles Dicken's couldn't have created a better environment for misery...

Our thanks to Sean in Winnipeg for the tip on this very entertaining story.

Look, we know Hamilton ain't heaven, but this is pathetic
Sun Jun 26 1977

Doug Brown
Winnipeg Free Press

AT this point, entering my seventh season in the CFL, I am accustomed to the fact that Hamilton is not exactly one of the most desirable road destinations in the CFL.

I've grown accustomed to the fact that if you want to grab a steak -- just a Keg steak, not a Hy's steak or 529 steak -- you may have to wait an hour outside the restaurant due to an absence of reasonable alternatives in Hamilton, and take a $15 cab ride just to sit and wait in that line.

I'm not fazed anymore by the fact that in my time spent in the CFL I have landed in Hamilton but never actually flown out of the airport. I find it quaint that it appears to be the only terminal in Canada where if you wish to leave, you have to drive to Toronto.

What used to be the biggest eyesore of a stadium in the league has now actually been somewhat improved with the addition of a jumbotron, field turf, and some new paint, so it looks like a reasonable venue to host a football game. That is, of course, until you happen upon the visiting dressing room.

Now, this is not an attempt to revive or restore the spitting match of 2006 where a Hamilton newspaper handed out inserts that read "We might be one and whatever, but at least we aren't from Winnipeg", yet more of a spotlight on conditions that aren't this bad in most high schools let alone in what is supposed to be a destination for professional football.

It's not the disrepair of the locker room that bothers me -- the heat, the smell, or the antiquated side-by-side roster seating on the field. Nope, it is the fact that in a place where professional athletes visit from all over Canada and the U.S.A., many for the first time, they discover that Hamilton does not have the most basic provision of running hot water in its locker-room.

This may not sound like a big deal to you, but after you have laid it on the line for three hours and 60-odd plays, there are some things you take for granted, like the ability to clean yourself at the end of the day.

Of course, you're probably wondering, as I was, if maybe there was just some sort of mechanical or electrical problem on the day we happened to be there. Well, that may have been, but I don't know how long it takes to fix the magic technology of heated water, because the day before, after our walk-through at the stadium, there wasn't any hot water then and several of us asked that it be brought to the attention of whomever was in charge of maintaining the stadium.

Nothing was done, so after the game you might have witnessed the spectacle of 50-odd professional football players taking their sweat-soaked gear off, putting their clean clothes on, and climbing aboard their bus without so much as a rinse.

I bring attention to this most basic of requirements for two reasons. One, to implore our own stadium managers to deny the Tiger-Cats' organization some of the most simple standards of plumbing when they visit our stadium -- or maybe even the technological marvel of ice -- so they understand how inadequate their own facilities are, and two, so the CFL brass can come up with some penalty or fining provision for road destinations that do not provide the most basic of necessities and embarrass the league and its players.

For if it's OK to not provide hot water to visiting teams, then why not stop providing ice, and toilet facilities as well? In my opinion, the first step in improving the image of the Canadian Football League is to make sure the best ambassadors of the game -- the players -- aren't embarrassed by the conditions they are forced to endure.

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

© 2007 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CFL not worried about NHL incursions

In a rather refreshing approach to business, the CFL instead of wringing its hands about its markets is showing a quiet bit of confidence that they can hold their own, should the NHL arrive in a few of their locales.

The topic came up at Commissioner Mark Cohon's debut state of the league discussion prior to the 2007 season. Cohon suggested that the current pursuit of an NHL franchise for Hamilton by Jim Balsillie wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Canadian football in the steel city. It's a sentiment that is shared by Ti-Cats owner Bob Young.

In fact, Cohon seems aware of the climate for sports in 2007 and suspects that the NHL may relocate a few of its struggling franchises into Canada, most likely with Winnipeg as a prime candidate for attention. A situation that Cohon feels the CFL could weather quite nicely and maybe even develop some joint ventures with local ownership.

The Toronto Star's Mary Ormsby examined the issue on the Star website Tuesday.

CFL boss isn't scared of NHL
League needs to work hard, but Ticats can still thrive if Predators move to Hamilton: Cohon
June 26, 2007


The NHL in Hamilton means the CFL has work to do.

CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said the potential relocation of the Nashville Predators into the same neighbourhood as the Hamilton Ticats won't financially harm the football franchise if interest in the game increases in southern Ontario. And "growing the game" by attracting more young athletes to play three-down football was one of Cohon's initiatives announced yesterday.

"I think (the NHL) is a little more the corporate community (in ticket buying) and we're more grass-roots in terms of the Ticats and their fans over the years," Cohon said after giving his webcast state-of-the league address at Rogers Centre yesterday.

"Bob (Young, the Ticat owner) is a smart guy. But it's my job to work with Bob and make sure that football is strong is southern Ontario and we have to start building up, having more kids playing the game here."

The Ticats have a strong season subscription base of about 15,000 and come close to selling out every home game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. At their last pre-season game on Friday, 20,000 were in the stands to see the home side edge the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 24-20.

However, 12,000 eager NHL fans recently forked over (refundable) deposits in pledging to purchase season tickets should Blackberry boss Jim Balsillie finally buy – then pry – the floundering hockey team from Tennessee and move it to Hamilton.

Far from fearing competition for ticket and sponsorship dollars from hockey teams, Cohon said his "gut" tells him that more NHL franchises will move north of the border and the CFL must be prepared to hold its fan base.

"I think you'll see more NHL franchises eventually coming to Canada so it's incumbent upon us to do the best job of making sure the CFL is successful. If that happens, then you've got a sport in the winter and you've got a sport in the summer – and we're the Canadian sport in the summer."

In a wide-ranging news conference, Cohon – who has been on the job just two months – also discussed:

CFL expansion predicated on stadium development funded by municipal, provincial and federal governments.

A player drug-testing plan, for which Cohon first approached Canadian World Anti-Doping Agency boss Dick Pound. There's no deadline so far for implementing the plan.

A marketing campaign focused on 16 players from across the league called CFL PROs. The two Argos involved are linebacker Michael Fletcher and defensive back Byron Parker.

His new commissioner's corporate council, which includes former Blue Jay and Major League Baseball executive Paul Beeston. Cohon also wants a commissioner's youth council, with young players and fans giving feedback and ideas to the league.

So far, so good with the salary management system (aka salary cap). An audit of each team is underway with results to be announced next April, after which offenders – if any – will be sanctioned.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Previews by the Book

Not considered one of the premier sports of the betting industry, the CFL none the less has found a bit of attention from the bookmakers.

Now, we don't at all endorse the prospect of anyone betting the milk money on their favourite CFL squad (the game is far too unpredictable for that kind of thing), but for those that are curious the line on the standings at the end of the season includes the following:

In the East, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are considered the slight favourite to claim fist place at the end of October, with the Argonauts slightly behind them, followed by the Als and the Tiger Cats. The Vegas Insider offered up this synopsis of the Eastern Division.

In the West, The BC Lions are once again the favourites to take the Western title, with Calgary once again breathing down their necks, while Saskatchewan is said to be in for a long season as are the under performing Eskimos. From the Vegas Insider comes this preview of the divisional battles.

Of course the beauty of a line produced from outside of the country is the fact that few of those making these calls have actually seen anyone in a camp, let alone in a pre season game. So we suggest you take the prognostications with a grain of salt.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Attendance bench marks to watch for this season.

As the CFL prepares for another regular season, it will be worth keeping an eye on the turnstile count to see which teams are rewarding the fans with good football and are finding a receptive crowd in the stands.

For those inclined to count the seats and for comparison purposes, here are the team averages for the 2006 season.

Regular season

Montreal-23,025........ Molson Stadium (cap 20,202) **a
Toronto-29,677........... Rogers Centre (cap 53, 506)
Hamilton-26,732........ Ivor Wynne Stadium (cap 30,000)
Winnipeg-27,008....... Canad Inns Stadium (cap 29,503)
Regina-25,293............ Mosaic Field (cap 28,800)
Edmonton-37,870...... Commonwealth Stadium (cap 60,081)
Calgary-30,772.......... McMahon Stadium (cap 35,650)
BC-31,190.................. BC Place (cap 35,000)**b

League Average
Regular season

East semi final at Toronto—26,214
West semi final at Calgary—36,650
East final at Montreal—35,507
West final at BC—50,084

Grey Cup at Winnipeg—44,786


**a--Montreal numbers include two games played at Olympic Stadium
**b--BC Lions only use lower bowl and one upper side for their regular season.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

With an eye on the obits, Toronto keeps its NFL dream current.

In what seems to be a common theme of late, the forces for bringing an NFL franchise to Toronto are keeping their ear to the ground when it comes to potential opportunities.

Stephen Brunt, has provided an excellent examination of the current interest in the Buffalo Bills as perhaps Toronto's team to be named later. Spurred on by recent talk by owner Ralph Wilson about his inheritance plans, the main proponents of the NFL for Toronto no doubt will be watching with interest how Mr. Wilson works out the details for his eventual departure from the planet.

It's a tad ghoulish that Toronto is waiting for someone to pass on, but it's the nature of the business we guess. The Bills will prove to be a very hot property, once Mr. Wilson hs gone to his reward, while they don't want to seem like they're loading up on daisies and chasing the hearse, the Toronto groups are not going to be caught unprepared for the possibility of the Bills coming into play one day.

Brunt: Toronto will act fast, aggressively if Bills are put on auction block
From Friday's Globe and Mail

And now, a word from the grim reaper.

It's not so often that he gets directly involved in a sports story — though, of course, he gets involved in everything, eventually, when all is said and done. But earlier this week, the long-running saga of the National Football League and its possible future in Canada steered directly into the path of the good old angel of death.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Buffalo News, Ralph Wilson, the only owner the Buffalo Bills have known, spelled out explicitly what has been suggested for quite some time.
He bought the original franchise in the American Football League for $25,000 in 1959. Its open-market value now as one of the 32 members of the NFL, the only truly bullet-proof sports property in North America, is three quarters of a billion dollars, perhaps more.
Related to this article

Wilson is 88 years old.

If he chose to, he could sell the team before he goes to his great reward and do his best to find a buyer who might keep it in Western New York.

But he says he's not going to do that.

He could arrange things so that the team is left to his wife, Mary, but he says that won't happen. He could leave it to his children, who might share his fierce loyalty to Buffalo.

Wilson says he isn't going to do that, either. The 45-per-cent inheritance taxes assessed on the team's market value would make that prohibitive.

Instead, when Ralph Wilson is called home, the Bills will go to auction and be sold to the highest bidder, maximizing the return to his heirs. And at that moment, whenever it might come, some cruel realities will dawn on the loyal, long-suffering football fans of the Niagara Frontier.

The Bills are worth a king's ransom anywhere, but they're worth a whole lot more somewhere other than Buffalo. No prospective owner could pay the going rate for the franchise and then hope to finance, let alone recoup, his investment in that city.

It is true that the NFL's great, collectivist revenue-sharing policy, especially when it comes to television, allows small-market franchises such as Green Bay to survive next to giants such as the ones in New York.

But in order to justify that kind of purchase price, an owner is going to have to max out on other, unshared revenue as well. That's simply not possible in a small, shrinking, economically challenged city, with a stadium that is a relic of a bygone time.

Barring the appearance of a true philanthropist, someone who is willing to outbid all competition and then underwrite the franchise for years to come just to keep it in Buffalo (Sabres owner Tom Golisano's name is the one that keeps popping up), it seems certain that the Bills will be sold, at a price that provides the maximum return to Wilson's estate, and inevitably moved.
Which brings us, of course, to Toronto.

Ted Rogers is 74 years old. Paul Godfrey is a youthful 68. Larry Tanenbaum will turn 62 next month.

All of them are up to their necks in the pursuit of an NFL franchise (Godfrey has been for eons now). All of them are operating as individuals and not for the benefit of a corporate entity that might reap benefits long after they're gone.

So it's pretty safe to assume that, given their own ages, none of them believe that this is a 20-year project.

When the time comes, they are going to move, aggressively. They're going to be right in the thick of the bidding for the Bills.

There will be other bidders as well. But for the NFL, for the other owners and for commissioner Roger Goodell — who seems far more open to the possibility of a team in Canada than did his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue — Toronto has to be an attractive proposition.

They could shift a historic franchise while pretending it hadn't really shifted (it's a relatively short drive down the Queen Elizabeth Way, and the Bills already draw considerable support from across the border). And they could drop into a market that, according to the most recent census, houses eight million souls, by far the largest in North America, outside Los Angeles, without an NFL team. An owner there, ready to build a new stadium and exploit a big, wealthy urban area, might at least dream of being able to justify his investment.

Could be five years from now. Could be 10 or more, depending on the timetable of the guy in the black hood. Could be tomorrow.

But when the day arrives, it's going to happen fast.

Asper acquires Big Blue

77 years of public ownership is over, a new era and if all goes according to plan, soon a new stadium will be on the way for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

David Asper, the media mogul of Manitoba, has fulfilled a long held ambition to become the sole owner of the Winnipeg Blue Bomber football team. The CFL franchise announced on Friday that the board of directors had voted in favour of the terms of Asper’s application. A move that adds one more team to the private owner’s club of the CFL, leaving only Saskatchewan and Edmonton as community run teams.

The Asper negotiations were a gut wrenching procedure for the community board, and indeed for the fans of Manitoba’s team, a 77 year investment is hard to just turn over without a few sad glances back at what was once was. But in simple terms, the deal with Asper seems to be one of the few ways to at least get the process of a new stadium for Winnipeg underway. Asper has had his plans drawn up for close to a year now, promising a state of the art stadium, entertainment and shopping complex for the city, a new home for the Bombers who have had to make do with the out of date Maroon road park for far too long.

Asper will pay 40 million for the team and, 7-10 million the value of the franchise, the remainder is his share of the required monies to build a new stadium on the current site in Winnipeg's Polo Park. Combined with expected contributions from federal an provincial governments, his investment will bring him control of the new stadium as well as the ancillary revenues to be generated around the stadium site upon development, for which he will spend another 25 million dollars.

How his move into the boardroom impacts on the product on the field remains to be seen, there may be changes in the upper management structure of the squad, with Lyle Bauer perhaps exploring greener pastures soon, Bauer and Asper once got into a heated argument over Bomber matters, with Bauer having to get Asper escorted out of the park on one occasion. Whether the new boss has decided to turn the page on that episode will be of interest to many.

It’s a turning of the page for football in Manitoba, a long time fixture of the community, complete with fundraising drives, dinners and traveling caravans now goes corporate. If the product on the field improves steadily this year, the growing pains of the transition may not even be noticed. If the Mr. Asper can deliver on his promise of a new stadium, one which suits the needs of not only the Bombers, but the community at large, then this day will be known more for a new chapter, than any kind of funeral mass.

Most importantly, reassuring football fans that their team’s future is safe in the hands of Mr. Asper is key. If he can earn the trust of the fans of the Bombers, his days as owner of the team should be calm and successful. If however, the new regime becomes to secretive and excludes the fan base of a sense of ownership, then the privatized era of Blue Bomber football could very well be as controversial as the major issues of the day that break down along public/private lines.

There’s no middle ground in Manitoba on some issues, most of them revolve around health care, car insurance and governance, with a new direction for the football team, the Blue Bombers may very well become one of the major debating issues for Manitobans for years to come.

The media reviews so far:

CFL's Bombers transfered to private owner

Sunday, June 17, 2007

To all will come death and taxes and maybe relocation.

While it's not about the CFL, there is always the underlying belief that the Buffalo Bills will be migrating North upon the demise of owner Ralph Wilson. Not that the always anxious Toronto based NFL seekers wish Mr. Wilson ill, it's just that when it comes to NFL expansion or relocation north of the 49th, the Bills always seem to be the team that fits the bill.

With that in mind, here's an interesting story from Saturday's Globe and Mail, a look at Mr. Wilson and his estate planning concerns for the Bills. With a declaration that he has no plans to sell the team while he walks among us on our mortal coil, he holds no guarantees that the team will remain in Buffalo upon his passing.

Wilson has transformed a 25 thousand dollar investment in 1959 into a franchise valued at a reported 627 million dollars last year, a nice bit of asset appreciation in anyone's books. But with that outrageous amount comes trouble perhaps for football fans in Buffalo and maybe for the CFL as well.

With estate taxes that will make the team all but a burden for his family, it's expected that upon his death the team will be sold, whether the new owners at that time see Buffalo in their future remains to be seen.

Original owner of the Buffalo Bills isn't selling in his lifetime
Associated Press
The Globe and Mail
Saturday, June 16, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The first and only owner of the Buffalo Bills has no plans to sell the team in his lifetime.

Ralph Wilson told The Buffalo News that the team will be sold after he dies and that he does not plan to leave the Bills to his wife, Mary.

"I think she's capable and she could do it, but it would be tough," the 88-year-old said. "My daughters are interested in the game, but they're not going to own the team."
Wilson knows the future of the Bills is a concern for fans, who don't want an outsider to buy the team and move it to another city.

"It is the situation as it always has been [the team] will be sold," Wilson said. "It hasn't changed. I know the people are jumpy there. But I get jumpy the more I hear about it."

If Wilson did leave the team to his daughters they would likely struggle to pay estate taxes — 45 percent of the value of the franchise — on the team valued at about $600 million.

Wilson said it's possible that the next owner could be someone who would want to keep the Bills in Buffalo, but he's not willing to speculate beyond that.

"There's so much liquidity that's floating around the country now," Wilson said. "Look at the stock market, it's gone up, up, up. It's not on dividends. Somebody hopes they'll buy a stock and somebody will come along and pay them a little more for it. So they'll sell it. You don't know.
There may be somebody who will come along in Buffalo and buy it. You can't tell. I can't guess the future and nobody can."

He bought the franchise for $25,000 in 1959. It was valued at $627 million last year in Forbes magazine.

The Bills' lease with Erie County runs through the 2012 season, but it would be easy to break if bought out under the terms of the agreement.

If the team was sold, a relocation would be subject to the approval of the other NFL owners.
Wilson said he would not consider selling part of the team to someone in Western New York while he's still alive to give that person the chance to eventually take over the club.
"That's absolutely out," he said.

Wilson spent the past year fighting for revenue sharing to protect the rights of small-market NFL teams.

He has said it's unfair for small-market teams to back new stadium projects because they don't equally share in the revenues the facilities generate. Wilson said it's doubly unfair to small-market teams because new facilities increase the salary cap, and the Bills are a team that can't keep up with escalating salaries.

The Bills, also by comparison, can't generate much more revenue in an economically troubled region such as Western New York.

Wilson spent the past year fighting for revenue sharing to protect the rights of small-market NFL teams.

He has said it's unfair for small-market teams to back new stadium projects because they don't equally share in the revenues the facilities generate. Wilson said it's doubly unfair to small-market teams because new facilities increase the salary cap, and the Bills are a team that can't keep up with escalating salaries.

The Bills, also by comparison, can't generate much more revenue in an economically troubled region such as western New York.

Wilson has a lot invested in his team. He spent the first two weeks of the offseason spring workouts on the sidelines, watching the team practice from a golf cart.

"Football keeps me going," Wilson said. "At my stage in the game, you've got to have something."

Friday, June 15, 2007

CFL alumni and fans rush to the assistance of JI

He sits alone in a Toronto nursing home, living a day to day existence as he battles health concerns that threaten to strike down his vitality, an almost forgotten name of a different time. He is steeped in the tradition of the CFL, but lately has been stalked by human tragedy.

JI Albrecht, the architect of champion football teams. He was the keen eyed scout who brought many of the games best known names to the north and the man who first dreamed the dream of Atlantic expansion. In short, one of the leagues most colourful characters and for a while there he had become an after thought, one of those whatever happened to features,

That is until Earl McRae, the Ottawa Sun’s columnist at large took up the cause of one of the CFL’s most accomplished icons and a man who surely must have thousands of stories for the archives.

McRae recounted the recent history of JI, a man who has had to share too large a burden of personal pain than he should have had to. The first column from the Sun appeared on June 2nd, a heart wrenching tale of a once vital part of the CFL community laid low by health and family problems. It was a timely column, with just the right amount of information and emotion and it has provided a groundswell of support for the forgotten Albrecht that warms the heart.

Since that column appeared dozens of CFL alumni have made contact with JI, former college players, coaches, scouts and every day citizens have phoned, written or in some cases dropped in for a short visit, to pray, to share a laugh or maybe hear a tale.

McRae followed up his column of two weeks ago with an update, a turn around that seems to have brought much happiness to the former CFL mainstay and given him a lift when needed most. A most rewarding thing for a writer we would imagine.

We celebrate our game with pride, so it’s particularly disheartening to hear of the pillars of the sport feeling abandoned. Hopefully, McRae has provided a nudge to those in the CFL family to take better care of those that have built the game over the years. The old hands such as Albrecht made the CFL into the national institution that it is, they’re accomplishments of those days the foundation for our memories and history.

Thankfully Earl McRae stepped in before it was too late to make a difference. He should be commended for his interest and more importantly for his intervention.

The two articles can be found at the links below.

June 15-CFL icon buoyed by support

June 2-This isn't how a legend should end

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yet another net for the talent pool

The CFL will find next year to be a bit of a challenge when it comes to recruiting talent for the eight (maybe nine if things fall into place in Ottawa) teams of the circuit.

A new American league is about to set up shop, financed by some heavy hitters of the American business establishment. Bill Hambrecht, a Wall Street executive who, along with partner Tim Armstrong of Google are the creators of the United Football League.

Mark Cuban, the perennial thorn in the side of NBA higher ups is one of the first on board as franchise owners, with plans to be in the loop when the first pre season game takes place in August of 2008.

Subscribing to the theory that there is much more supply than there is demand, the latest would be football tycoons are looking to fill a void in American entertainment, providing the national obsession for football with one more night to catch some ball.

The league will play its games in many cities that currently have been ignored or abandoned by the NFL, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio and Orlando. Cities where past football leagues such as the WFL, USFL, XFL and CFL have all attempted to find success butwith the exception of LA, for whatever reason never quite made it to the ultimate step of the NFL.

The member franchises of the UFL will not be led astray, they have no design on toppling the NFL anytime soon, they are just hopeful to find a television network that will be ready to show their Friday night games on a weekly basis. A night traditionally given over to high school football in many parts of the USA.

The league will have a salary cap and will try to sign players from the Canadian Football League, the Arena Football League and players cut from NFL training camps, which will make the mid season air lift of talent to the CFL a much harder operation to mount. In fact, depending on the kind of money that they plan to throw around, the league may take many of those that would normally head for Canada's wider and longer pastures.

It's not the first threat to the CFL and most likely won't be the last, the UFL could affect American television exposure as well, as the various cable networks anxious to fill their programming blocks might very well take a flyer on a league that offers Mark Cuban's theatrics on a regular basis.

2006 Season Archive

We archive the scores and reviews of last years season.

Grey Cup Sunday
Divisional Finals
Semi Final Sunday
Week Twenty
Week Nineteen
Week Eighteen
Week Seventeen
Week Sixteen
Week Fifteen
Week Fourteen
Week Thirteen
Week Twelve
Week Eleven
Week Ten
Week Nine
Week Eight
Week Seven
Week Six
Week Five
Week Four
Week Three
Week Two
Week One


Monday, June 11, 2007

The strength of any good CFL team is in its Canadians

Over the years, the successful CFL franchises are the ones with the most astute scouts both in the US and across Canada, able to pick up those hidden gems that fall through the cracks or never got a fair shake in previous times.

Another key for a championship team is the depth of the Canadian talent that a CFL GM can put together, a job that has become easier over the years at the CIS colleges became more competitive and provided some top flight talent each year.

Part of any GM's notebook will include selections from the CFL draft, a collection of college and junior football players who have shown something special while playing for whichever program they have chosen in their formative years.

This years CFL Draft was held in eraly May and the Hamilton Tiger Cats claimed the first pick, selecting Brandon, Manitobas Chris Bauman as the number one selection in this years draft. Bauman who played his college ball with the University of Regina Rams, had a remarkable time while playing in the Canada West conference for Regina. His biography is complete with records and All Canadian and All star nominations.

As a wide receiver with the Rams he had multiple 100 yard games and scored more than a few points for the perenially tough Rams squad.

His selection by Hamilton will add to a receiving corps that had its struggles over the last few years and no doubt will welcome the addition of a sure handed and talented pass catcher.

For a full report on this years draft, the CFL Website provides a recap of the picks and an examination as to how those selected will help out their teams in the years to come.

Players of the Week Archive 2006

We list the Players of the Week selections from 2006

Week Twenty
Week Nineteen
Week Eighteen
Week Seventeen
Week Sixteen
Week Fifteen
Week Fourteen
Week Thirteen
Week Twelve
Week Eleven
Week Ten
Week Nine
Week Eight
Week Seven
Week Six
Week Five
Week Four
Week Three
Week Two
Week One

Saturday, June 09, 2007

2006 Grey Cup Archive

We archive the items from last years Grey Cup Chapmionship in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg Host home page
CBC Grey Cup home page
Grey Cup countdown
From the Lions camp
From the Alouettes camp
Grey Cup media frenzy

The Final Snaps of June

June 30-"we're up for something big"
June 29-"It was a wild one"
June 28-Right now the defences might be leading. But I have no doubt that offences will adjust
June 27-"I guess it all pays off."
June 26-"and we're the Canadian sport in the summer"
June 25-"It was very, very close"
June 24-If Calgary didn't have Joffrey Reynolds, trust me, Wes Cates would have been a household name in the CFL last year
June 23-We won a lot of games and a championship with him
June 22-as everyone knows, it matters here. Intensely.
June 21-I told my wife last night it was good to have new guys because none of them have heard my stories
June 20-It took a while but we got him
June 19-I'm ecstatic to return to the CFL
June 18-I just hope that I can live up to whatever expectations that this organization and also the fans have for me
June 17-You hope this all works
June 16-Can he respond when things are a little different, a little tougher?
June 15-You can be a practice warrior but I've been on a lot of teams where guys get stage fright
June 14-I expect to play
June 13-Camp has been great so far
June 12-So you've got to come out every day and compete.
June 11-We've been trying for five days to get (Mitchell to Regina)
June 10-He's got the ability to do many things for us
June 9--We're having some fun with a play like that so early

Opening Kick offs June 2007

June 30-Argos reportedly seeking out Christie
June 30-Stamps thrash Ti-Cats
June 30-Edwards is carrying on
June 29-Argos left hurting
June 29-Offence returns
June 29-Owner concerned about cap
June 28-Rare tie overshadows Stegall's day
June 28-Levingston returns missed kick 129 yards for TD
June 28-Renaming Grey Cup a tough sell
June 27-Is the West best? Argos to be the test
June 27-Blue brace for battle
June 27-Old coach, new tricks
June 26-NFL castoff enjoys fresh start with Lions
June 26-CFL GMs facing up to salary cap challenge
June 26-Simon wants the CFL to market itself
June 25-Talent and determination persevere
June 25-CFL rules strange to some
June 25-Argos silent on their starting quarterback
June 24-Lions eye Repeat
June 24-Montreal willing to risk poor start
June 24-Pressure in the pocket
June 23-Mitchell's surprised, stunned
June 23-Bombers coach upbeat despite exhibition losses
June 23-Many jobs on the line
June 22-CFL's Bombers transfered to private owner
June 22-Buono gives Lions a jolt
June 22-Eskimos cut veteran Ranek, six others
June 21-Alouettes president to meet with mayor on stadium project
June 21-It's room key or plane ticket
June 21-QB's untapped potential
June 20-Banks heads to Montreal in quarterback swap
June 20-Matt Dunigan puts on stripes for exhibtion game
June 20-Jesse's on a mission
June 19-Tiger-Cats release Hitchcock, Morreale
June 19-Popp takes low-key approach to Alouettes camp
June 19-Not in Kansas anymore
June 18-Canadians lead Lions in the middle
June 18-Abdullah back with the Eskimos
June 18-Cats cut King in latest cull
June 17-Safeties duel at Riders camp
June 17-No holiday for Buono
June 17-Stamps coach checks his list
June 16-Akili Smith impressive in Stamps debut
June 16-Fantuz shines in Roughriders win
June 16-There are growing pains and then there are face-plants
June 15-Eskies offence gets boost in Chapdelaine
June 15-Late TD gives Roughriders exhibition win over Lions
June 15-Stamps cruise to exhibition win over Eskimos
June 14-Austin prepares for BC
June 14-Age nothing but a number for Argonauts
June 14-Other guy's so good, NFL veteran traded
June 13-Up and Adam
June 13-Dominguez has high hopes for Roughriders
June 13-A new perspective on life
June 12-Exhibition blues
June 12-Burris havin' a ball
June 12-In Tabbies he trusts
June 11-Slotback Stala looking to bounce back
June 11-CFL's new kick-return blocking rules have Levingston anxious for season
June 11-Part of job Clemons doesn't like is making cuts
June 10-Impressive session for receivers
June 10-Let's see those arms
June 10-Life on the island
June 9-- Bishop sharp in Argos pre-season opener
June 9-- Bell tolls for Ricky
June 9--Bombers put Culpepper on negotiation list

A new season begins


June 22- Hamilton 24 @ Winnipeg 20
June 22- Calgary 21 @ Saskatchewan 23
June 21- BC 12 At Edmonton 18
June 21- Toronto 26 At Montreal 34
June 15-Saskatchewan 24 At BC 15
June 15-Edmonton 3 At Calgary 28
June 14-Hamilton 35 AtWinnipeg 23
June 9--Montreal 13 At Toronto 27

Under Further Review Archives of 2006 (The Final Snaps)

We archive our Final snap files from the 2006 season

November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006

Under Further Review Archives of 2006 (The Opening Kick offs)

We archive our Opening Kick off files from the 2006 season.

Off season 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006

CFL Notes June/July 2007 Season

We will archive all of our information about the League office from this location, the links will appear on the right hand column section of the blog.
July 20-Tinker Time