In the week that would have been the lead-up to the 2020 Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League is instead talking about next season.
On Monday, commissioner Randy Ambrosie was optimistic that the league would be back after cancelling the 2020 campaign because of the pandemic.
“As soon I see that we have sign-off from all of our stakeholders, we’re going to publish a schedule very, very soon. We’ve got a schedule planned for 2021,” Ambrosie said on a conference call.
But what will that schedule look like? Ambrosie said several scenarios are in play for 2021. Maybe, for the first time since 1985, there will be fewer than 18 regular season games.
CFL Players Association president Solomon Elimimian joined Inside Sports Monday night, saying the players would go for a shortened season. In fact, they were ready to play just six games in the fall of 2020.
“The PA was open to that scenario. We had a done deal this last summer, when the PA and the league negotiated a 2020 hub city,” he explained.
“That was successful. It was a scenario that would have our players work, and it was a safe environment in the hub city in Winnipeg.”
A hub city for six games and two or three weeks of playoffs is one thing, but what about hunkering down in a bubble for several months in 2021?
NHL players did it for the post-season, but the consensus is they wouldn’t want to do it again. However, Elimimian says his membership has been surveyed and is bubble-ready.
“Those came back overwhelmingly ‘Yes,'” said Elimimian.
“As long as there’s a ’21 season, our players will make the sacrifices needed.”
Fans may have to learn a lot of new names and faces. With no pay cheques from games, many CFLers have explored other sources of income. Elimimian admits that some of them might move on from football as a result.
“The bills don’t stop coming. A lot of people have to make hard decisions for their families,” explained Elimimian.
“You could see some players decide to move on. At the end of the day, it’s about providing for your family. I knows players have been juggling the ideas of whether to move on or hang around because they do love this great game.”