The members of the Edmonton Eskimos who have been in town all off season, or have already arrived, have been working out daily – mostly at Commonwealth Stadium.
At times, they weren’t sure what they were working out for.
The start of training camps has been in question most of the off season, but particularly in the last month when negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement between the Canadian Football League and the CFL Players Association seemed to go off the rails.
Wednesday, when that group of Eskimos met for a workout — just four days before the scheduled start of on-field activities at training camp — there was more excitement and a buzz in the air after an early morning announcement that a tentative deal had been reached after three days of talks in Toronto that started on Sunday.
“It’s been a long winter and we got some good news this morning,” said eight-year CFL vet Almondo Sewell.
The new deal, believed to be three years in length, still needs to be ratified by the players and the CFL board of governors, but it appears the 2019 CFL season will start this weekend on time.
Eskimos offensive lineman Colin Kelly, who just finished a 30-hour drive from his off-season home in Texas, is glad he will have a training camp to go to this weekend after CBA talk dominated the off season.
“How could you not talk about the elephant in the room with the CBA?” said Kelly, who is going into his third year with the Eskimos and his fifth in the CFL.
“So the fact that we are leaning in the right direction of where we are getting a deal done, I can finally start thinking about: ‘Hey, when’s our first game? Hey, let’s start practice, let’s start getting better and on the road to the Grey Cup.'”
CFL rookie camps are underway in some cities and main camps will begin as scheduled this weekend across the country.
“Now we know it’s football,” said Eskimos receiver Kenny Stafford. “It’s go time.”
The Eskimos will conduct medicals and physical testing on Saturday, hit the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium for the first time on Sunday morning at 9:20 a.m. and hold workouts all week leading up to the first of two pre-season games on Sunday, May 26 at home to the B.C. Lions.