Scott Milanovich was watching game film. A lot of game film. He was determined to be ready, to have his team ready for the first game of the CFL season, hopefully on Labour Day.
“We grinded as a staff for about a month on preparing on Calgary. When we heard that day wasn’t going to go good, we heard we’d be starting with another team, so then we worked on them for another month,” said the head coach of the Edmonton Football Team.
On Monday, Milanovich and the rest of the CFL heard the final decision. The 2020 season had been cancelled.
Read more: CFL 2020 season officially cancelled
“When the news came down about the funding (Sunday) night, I had an inkling that this might be more possible. It didn’t change the shock when I finally heard this a couple of hours ago,” explained Milanovich.
“Your heart bleeds for the players who are trying to feed their families, for the fans that love our sports so much.”
The league was hoping to get a $30-million interest-free loan from the federal government. When that fell through, hope was lost for 2020.
“They offered the opportunity for us to take on some loans. Unfortunately, those loans came with high interest rates and fees and would have hampered our recovery overall from COVID-19 and done us more harm long-term than good,” explained EE president and CEO Chris Presson. “We couldn’t take on those loans because it would have crippled our business further.”
The football calendar had already been thrown off by the possibility of a shortened season, now it’s even further into disarray with no season at all. Not only will EE general manager Brock Sunderland not have a roster to manage, his chances to scout young players will decrease. USports isn’t playing this fall and some NCAA leagues have followed suit.
“We’re going to see what NCAA schools are playing and if we can get to those and get the film,” said Sunderland. “We’ll get information from NFL plans. Fortunately, a lot of this in this organization have worked in the NFL so we have a lot of relationships where we can speak with teams. Though we’re not there at training camps and they don’t have pre-season games, I think we’re going to get some pretty good intel on who can help us from players that don’t make it.”
With no games to coach, Milanovich shifts his focus.
“At some point, we need to get out in our community. I don’t know if that’s clinics, or us going to schools, or what even we’re allowed to do at this point. But I don’t want the Edmonton Football Team to disappear from the community for the next six months,” Milanovich said. “We’re going to need all hands on deck to push forward in our community and make sure that we’re heard.”
Beyond that, Milanovich firmly believes he’ll be coaching games in 2021.
“It’s just special. If you aren’t from Canada or you haven’t experienced it as an American like I have, it’s hard to grasp, but once you have, you’ll never forget it,” said Milanovich. “It’s why I’m really positive about the future. I cannot see the iconic CFL not surviving this and not thriving going forward.”