Despite 11th-hour drama, Roughrider training camp opened on time on Sunday.
Some last-minute changes to the Canadian Football League‘s new collective bargaining agreement had the CFL Players’ Association ready to strike, but a late agreement gave the green light for camp to begin as scheduled.
Riders guard Brendon LaBatte said the team is ready to look forward now that an agreement has been reached.
“The players kind of put our foot in the ground, got what we had originally asked for, and life moves on,” he said.
Quarterback Zach Collaros says that though he hasn’t seen the concrete details, he’s hopeful and ready to start playing.
“We haven’t seen the entire document yet, but from what was presented to us this morning, I think that there’s some things that will really help the players out,” Collaros said.
It’s not the first time Labatte has been through a collective bargaining agreement dealing. He says this perspective kept him cool, calm and collected.
“I fully expected that we were going to be here,” he said. “In my experience with the union, it would take an awful lot for camp not to go on from the players.”
He added: “I don’t think the strike, in my mind, was ever really in play. It would’ve been getting word from the union, and we’ll deal with it there. But I mean, in terms of the last week, in regards to camp, it’s been just like the last 10, 11 years, where you’re just expected to show up and know what you’re doing.”
Riders defensive lineman Charleston Hughes has been itching to get back on the field.
“I’ve been wanting to get out there and get started the whole time so even going through the process, everybody is eager to get on the field — fans are eager for us to get on the field and play football,” Hughes said.
“When it all boils down to it, we are still out here playing, and that’s exactly what everyone wants.”
The fear of striking — or lack thereof — from the Riders players echoed the sentiments of their new head coach, Craig Dickenson.
“We feel like the (collective bargaining agreement) is going to take care of itself when it does. We’ll trust the process and let it happen on its own,” Dickenson said.
“In the meantime, we’re going to focus on what we can do, which is football.”
The newest proposed collective bargaining agreement will be voted on by Monday.