Notebook – September 11, 2006

Lots of CFL news, an expensive practical joke and devastating steroid revelations from CB fill this edition of the Notebook.

Formal Letters of Interest Received by CFL

Formal letters of interest that include a business plan, front office structure, philosophical approach to operating a team and a five year budget projection were due to CFL offices today by interested parties. As expected three groups submitted their packages prior to the deadline. The only interesting information from the official CFL press release is the fact the league has no deadline to evaluate and award a franchise, if they choose to do so. From the actual groups comes the info that one group is proposing a start date of 2008, a second 2007, while the third and media front runner will listen to the league’s preference for either a 2007 or 2008 start.

Montreal to Test Palmer

After being placed on Montreal’s practice roster today, Jesse Palmer will try to impress Alouette coaching staff enough to earn a QB roster spot. Getting on the roster this year will allow him to learn the Montreal offence and readjust to the Canadian game so he may challenge for Anthony Calvillo’s backup spot next training camp and become his eventual successor. Despite the poor record of Canadian quarterbacks in the CFL, Palmer has one advantage, and that is he is American college trained. All the previous Canadian QB “failures” were Canadian college QB‘s where they do not get the same reps and coaching as their American counterparts. While some coaching bias is involved, some of it stems from the training discrepancy that exists between American and Canadian recruits.

Contracts and Salary Caps

Ted Hellard may be hoping the CFL SMS is not enforced for 2007, despite his doubts of a reversal, after Calgary signed their kicker to a reported $125,000 contract with $100,000 signing bonus. How do you spend over your average salary ($3.8 million divided by 46 players) on a kicker who does not pull punting duties as well? Nice how the Eskimos are quick to deflect from their situation to single out Saskatchewan as big spenders. I guess they forgot to fess up to their years of over spending and hiding players when they wrote one set of rules for the Eskimos and another for everyone else.

Asper Wants Piece of Blue Bombers

Reports state that David Asper wants to purchase a stake of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football club. No confirmation or discussion of the proposal will occur by the club or city until after the Grey Cup, which is in Winnipeg this year on November 19. The belief that this proposal is related to the Bombers quest for a new stadium is most likely right, but new stadium or not, private ownership, partial or otherwise may not be the best unless the party is willing to underwrite losses during tough years. Otherwise it is just another owner who will walk away when the losses are too great, and who else in Winnipeg will step in? It is very hard to go back to public ownership after a private stake has been taken.

More NFL Franchise for Toronto Nonsense

After last week’s announcement that Ted Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum were courting the NFL for a franchise, most likely to relocate and existing one, a Toronto crack sports reporter investigates that possibility that the beloved Bills may move to Toronto. Despite the conclusion that there is the slimmest of possibilities, the tagline seems to give greater hope to Torontonians (if they even want the Bills).

Let us review the facts. Current Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson has always been against relocation. He has expressed no plan for the franchise after his death. That does not mean he does not have a plan. He has to die or sell the team (very unlikely) before it is available, which could be a long time. The team currently has a lease agreement with Ralph Wilson Stadium until 2013. Any statement that Buffalo including the Toronto metropolitan area, ranks 5th in television markets in the U.S. is pointless. Canadian and American television markets are split and do not aggregate. Besides, would Buffalo fans continue their loyalty to a franchise that was moved, even if it was just across the border? I do not think many Baltimore Colts’ fans became Indianapolis Colts fans after their move. Factor in Rogers and Tanenbaum plus other partners need to raise $900 million to $1 billion or potentially more by the time a team may be available and as I stated before, this is no more than a pipe dream. Time is not something that will help this effort; a team available 10 years from now will only be more expensive and make a small stadium in Toronto less viable for a franchise.

Fox Sports “joke” Costs Network New Truck

A Fox Sports on-air practical joke on a Carolina Panthers fan during a NFL pre-season game has resulted in Carolina fan “Catman” getting a new Ford F-150 truck. The fan was angered (and maybe embarrassed) after expressing excitement and joy after receiving a toy car Porsche he thought was a token of a real vehicle he was to receive. The on-air broadcasters actually said they were giving away a car in an effort to keep fans from tuning out. Near the end of the game, a sideline reporter presented the toy car to “Catman”.

After reporting of the incident caused Fox to be deluged with emails from angry fans they decided to apologize and present the fan with a new truck to make up for the “joke that went terribly, terribly wrong”. Good on them. The CFL experienced criticism last year when their Kick to Win contest for $1 million was awarded and it was revealed that the award was actually a payment of $50,000/year for 20 years not a $1 million lump sum, even though this was well publicized in the contest rules and promotions. This year the contest has changed, perhaps unnecessarily, to award the prize as a $1 million lump sum.

New Steroid Testimony: Who’s Next?

Reading between the lines of the lastest steroid testimony, another of the great sports figures is tarnished in the public’s eyes. If CB is juiced, everyone is juiced.

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