Notebook – October 30, 2006

One major topic on foreign NFL games, plus CFL notes and nore make up this edition of the Notebook.

NFL Slates Games for Foreign Soil

The NFL announced this past week that it will hold two regular season contests at neutral sites in Mexico, Canada and Europe annually starting next year, although the earliest Canada could receive a game would be 2008. No specific sites have been selected and it is possible that Pacific Rim countries will be added to the list after next year’s exhibition contest in Beijing, China. NFL owners will be compensated for the loss of a home date and all teams will cycle through neutral site games every sixteen years, although the program is only committed until 2011.

The immediate reaction of many is that this is a forward step for Toronto bidders for an existing or expansion franchise. This does not seem to be the case. The CFL issued a press release on the announcement which confirmed the CFL and NFL continue a good relationship and the NFL believes the strength of the football in Canada requires a healthy CFL. A game for Canada has been pushed to 2008 at the earliest due to the presence of the Grey Cup in Toronto in 2007. Also, no specific sites, only countries, were named by the NFL, meaning Toronto may not be an automatic for getting the first game (or every game) when larger 60,000+ seat stadiums exist in Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. Since gate revenue must be compensated to the clubs losing the home date, the greater number of seats could be a factor. Considering the NFL’s first regular season experiment in 2005 attracted over 100,000 fans in Mexico City, it is not even likely Canada will receive a game every year, let alone Toronto, with our 60,000 or less seat stadiums.

As the NFL seems to be very considerate of CFL requests when it comes to business in Canada, I would hope the CFL could influence the date of any games in Canada to occur after the CFL season. If after the season is not possible, then certainly early in the NFL season (September) is much better for the CFL than deflecting attention from the CFL during the stretch run and playoffs. If the CFL is accommodated in this way, then I believe this bodes well in the future for the NFL not overwhelming the CFL in the Canadian market.

The plan for neutral site games including sites in Canada sounds like a way for the NFL to satiate fan demand for the NFL in Canada without moving a team there. Expansion is not likely in the NFL considering where they want to go (Los Angeles) and the need for two owners and two teams for balanced conferences. I totally believe that any attempt to buy an existing franchise and move it to Toronto will be met with severe resistance, as the fellow owners see no positives to such an arrangement and many negatives. This plan is a way to meet some demand in Canada, show the weaknesses to achieving a permanent franchise and maintain a relationship with the CFL and grow football in Canada.

CFL Notes

Everybody is coming out with their CFL Grey Cup odds. While the B.C. Lions are heavy favourites, and I agree, but I also take into account how hard it is for favourites to win the Cup. I certainly would not rule out whoever comes through the East to put up a good fight against any Western opponent. Playoff time also brings out comparisons of past match-ups. Unfortunately, history has a way of not repeating itself, so hopes of your team making a run just as they did when they were in this situation back in whenever are just hopes.

Watch the Grey Cup on your cell phone. The teen demographic just went through the roof.

The results are in. CFL officiating still stinks. More at eleven. (We will have more on this in a future article.)

Now that old, conservative Hughie has left the building, LeLacheur reveals new plans to grow the Eskimos organization. This may be the harbinger of a struggling Edmonton franchise. If they burn through their capital, install artificial turf, and grow the organization (read more employees, investments outside football) when all they need is to focus on the football business, Edmonton could soon become a poor cousin of the league with nothing that makes them the model franchise they are today.

Does this Ricky Williams article title sound sarcastic or is it just my pessimistic nature? I think by these articles Ricky has worn out his welcome in Toronto, and I do not know why. He did not meet the media expectations, but the problem there was in the expectations.

Campbell calls out CFL owners on Tom Wright situation. Should not Campbell have done something long ago at the league level to correct the commissioner confidence vote when he wielded the power? All the clubs are to blame for leaving this rule on the books during eight franchise times. It was not because it was unimportant; it was because they thought it might be to their advantage one day.

The Eskimos are already planning a rebuild, and are looking to the free agent market for next year. First on their wish list is a ‘Rider DB.

Other Sport Notes

Against all odds, bartender collects over $400,000 on Pro*Picks lottery picks. While the payouts are not so large, we have more fun at Overtime Central.

The St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series. They are now the second most World Series winning franchise, behind only the New York Yankees. That does not explain why the baseball playoffs were so boring this year. I usually will catch the last few innings of a few games where the score is close and someone will come back or something. This year I never bothered to watch anything, there was no drama.

With steroids raising there ugly head again after the San Diego Chargers’ Shawne Merriman was suspended for four games (now under appeal), Stephen Brunt weighs in on a double standard. Brunt has been known to pontificate about how steroid use can get politicians (and purists) up in arms about the game, but it does not stop fans from going through the turnstiles. His basic theory is that fans do not care if their team’s players are juiced or not. In fact, they may be more concerned if their players are not taking every advantage available to them. I do not think this is the case. First, there has been no major number of players testing positive in anti-doping testing. The NFL and NBA suspend more players for illegal drugs than they do for steroids. If a large number of players were caught, affecting teams and displaying a larger problem than what is apparent now, fans may be more vocal. Second, when one Charger is caught cheating with performance enhancing drugs, do you really expect the seats to be empty the next home game? Should the remaining 59 players be painted with the same brush with no evidence? By the next season, all is forgotten, which is a trait in our society relied upon by politicians and corporations. Finally, with the size of fan bases of many sports, for every fan that stays home or turns off the TV, there is another ready to take his place, who has not been able to get in the door previously. I know players circumventing the system, both in amateur and professional sports, offend me. I have little influence, however, since I do not attend or watch the leagues with the most drug controversy surrounding them. Am I on an island here?

2 Responses to “Notebook – October 30, 2006”

  1. Bill Says:

    “we have more fun at Overtime Central” – woo! party time :)

  2. Bill Says:

    eskimos – stay away from my riders! leave our defensive backs alone!

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