CFL Players - We Hear You, But Here's Some Advice
Published: Thursday, Jul 30th 2020, 7:07am
CFL Players – We Hear You, But Here’s Some Advice…
by Sheldon Jones
I do not need to preface this article explaining that we are dealing with very uncertain times due to the COVID19 pandemic, however some of the players need to look in the mirror and change the way they are using their voices. The Canadian Football League players seem to be about as fed up as they can be with the situation that persists regarding whether or not there will be a 2020 season. I can completely agree with them, for this has been a time where it seems that they have been the one area that is encompassed of the CFL, that have not been compensated financially during these extremely hard times.
While it is true that employees at the league headquarters and at the individual teams have seen pay cuts, they have ultimately still been receiving their pay cheques to help to provide for their families. Players north and (more so) south of the border have had to resort to other ways to try to find an income to try to support their families, while also being able to find the time to continue training to be able to report to training camp in a hypothetical bubble scenario in Winnipeg, should it happen. Players who reside in Canada usually have offseason jobs (just like those who live in the USA) but would have also been able to apply for CERB if any of those jobs were lost at the beginning of the COVID19 outbreak that turned into a global pandemic. While this was not a lot of money, at least it would have been money coming in.
heir counterparts south of the 49th parallel, were not able to apply for this as they do not reside in Canada (even though they pay taxes and everything else to the Canadian Government so the absolutely should have been able to, but that is for another discussion) year round. On top of that frustration, these players (Canadian and American / Global) are looking at what looks like a 6-game season with pro-rated contracts IF the Canadian Government will (debatably) do the right thing and provide financial assistance. This would work out to 33% of their wage based on a third of games played. Some players have been vocal about the risks of leaving their families to come up to Canada to make a fraction of what they would have been making for a full season, only to give a large part of that money to the Canadian (and most some cases American) government in taxes.
Reigning MOP Brandon Banks has publicly stated he will not be coming up for a shortened 2020 season. Some players have seemed to remain hopeful that something can get worked out, but as it gets down to crunch time (an initial league deadline has come and gone, with a new one set for Friday July 31) some other players are starting to express their frustration with some members of the media regarding reports that they are sharing. TSN’s Farhan Lalji shared a tweet stating that his sources told him that there was “growing optimism that the CFL & PA were getting close on an amended CBA” and that internal discussions have began about when players and teams would start to report to Winnipeg should a deal get done. This is Farhan getting info from his sources, vetting it, and then deciding to post it. CFLPA players President Solomon Elimimian responded to him saying that “the PA and league are NOT close to a deal. Did your source tell you that the League failed to meet with the PA last Friday?” Toronto Argonauts kicker Boris Bede replied to Solomon questioning (and @ing) Both Farhan and his TSN co-worker Dave Naylor (who are two of the best reporters that cover the CFL for TSN) inferring that they always post update from the CFL’s point of view and asking “Why don’t you guys get the CFLPA side of the story?” Former kicker Christopher Milo also added his views and seemed to take a shot at the reporters as well. This is a major problem that has developed in some of the CFL players as of late and goes back to last summer when the League and the PA were “bargaining” a new CBA.
If you want these esteemed and impartial reporters to air your side of the story, then TALK TO these reporters instead of taking shots at them on social media. Lalji and Naylor (and countless other media members) are all looking for a story, especially now when sports is on the back burner to COVID19. Send these guys a DM, set up an interview and give your side of the story. If players were worried about misinformation getting out, contact your player rep so that they can in turn contact Solomon Elimimian or CFLPA president Brian Ramsay to give these reporters accurate views of what it is happening. You can not tell me that Farhan and Dave (and others) have not been reaching out to the PA to get their comments on what is going on with the negotiations. Resorting to this looks BAD on the players when as of right now, I believe most of the sympathy that CFL fans have lies directly WITH the players. I get it, times are tough right now, but USE these people who make their living spreading news to share your information and issues instead of trying to discredit them and make them look wrong.
Some players have also taken issue with the CFL’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts posting videos of its players training for the season if it does happen. Again, we see that you are frustrated, but these accounts and the posts that are posted are put out there by the social media teams, not the members of the League who are on the return to play or CBA bargaining committees and this is out of line. The CFL is literally clinging to life and trying to serve up some content to stay in the minds of the fans for when we can get back to watching and hopefully, sooner than later, attending games live. These fans are the actual life blood of the CFL as we have all found out what as widely known, that the CFL is a gate driven league that relies almost entirely on the fans attending games.
Players, we get and empathize WITH YOU on your struggles. While everyone has been dealing with some sort of quarantine since the beginning of this pandemic, we can not begin to understand what sort of mental and physical toughness it will require to be situated in a bubble situation, away from friends and family for what could be 3 months plus. We stand WITH YOU wanting to see you get paid and being able to get back to doing what you are so good at doing, entertaining hundreds of thousands of people weekly and ultimately competing to win the right to hoist the Grey Cup above your head. Players throwing shade at trusted members of the media or the League could start to tarnish that positive relationship between the players and their fans. If the 2020 CFL season is to have any chance of happening, we ALL need to unite together and get this done.