Griffiths Stadium was brought back to life Thursday morning after a tentative agreement was reached between the CFL and its player’s association late Wednesday night.
“We are happy to be getting back to what we love and what we came up here to evidently do which is play football,” Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive lineman Keion Adam said.
A four-day labour dispute stalled the Riders’ and six other teams’ training camps, which kicked off Thursday evening.
“At the end of the day, we are all out here for one reason and want to get on the field,” Riders long snapper Jorgen Hus said. “It will be interesting to see how the votes turn out in the coming days but we are excited to play football when the time comes.”
According to CFL insider John Hodge, some changes to the seven-year deal include guaranteed language on long-term veteran player contracts and raising the number of national starters from seven to eight.
The deal still needs to be voted on by the league board of governors and CFLPA members.
“Across the league, I think from the consensus I’m getting, there are mixed feelings on both sides. So we’ll see, it will be an interesting vote,” Hus said.
Adams said a lot is still up in the air, adding they are basically “just being told as we go.”
It’s not just players who are happy to be back on the field. Fans showed up early at Griffiths Stadium, hoping to see the return of their favorite athletes.
“Just love it, I really do,” CFL fan Art Michener said. “I like taking the bike down here sitting in the stands, catching some rays and watching world-class athletes go at it. There’s nothing better.”
Although the camp is starting a few days late, players don’t think it will have a detrimental impact on the coming season.
“Six months from now, when teams are in playoffs, I don’t think it’s going to matter,” Hus said. “You’re not going to remember the three days you missed in camp at all.”
Even though camp has been given the green light, there have been changes made to the Riders’ preseason schedule. Their tilt initially slated for Victoria Day has been moved to Tuesday, May 31.