Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers mum on new deal

Needs ratification, so they're keeping minds on game

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2Maybe, the Bombers offensive lineman suggested, the media could ask him about the Los Angeles Clippers, on the block for $2 billion. "It's good money," he said, with a straight face and a familiar twinkle in his eye. "I don't have enough money for that, yet."

Of course, it was a tongue-in-cheek exchange. After the Bombers wrapped up their walkthrough at Investors Group Field on Sunday, the media gathered around January to hear what the players thought about the CFL's tentative deal for a new CBA. Like many of his teammates, though, the Bombers' CFLPA representative was mostly keeping mum.

After all, until the players and the CFL governors vote to ratify the proposed contract, the deal is not yet done. "It's tentative right now and I'm going to withhold comment until it's official," January said. "I don't want to do anything that could potentially jeopardize a deal that, at this point, could potentially be fragile."

Though the CFL will not formally release the terms of the proposed contract until if, or when, it becomes official, details of the deal trickled up through various media on Sunday. It involves a $5 million salary cap for 2014, up from $4.4 million last year but far below the $6.24 million the CFLPA had originally sought. That cap would rise by $50,000 a season over the life of the CBA.

Players will also receive a ratification bonus ranging from $7,500 or more for veterans, and $1,500 for rookies. The league minimum salary would also get a $5,000 boost, up to $50,000 this season. The league did agree to drop the option contract year for non-rookies, something the CFLPA had sought to help provide more stability for veterans.

When news of the tentative agreement broke on Saturday night, the reaction from CFL players was swift, and divided. One of the most vocal was Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish, who took to Twitter to voice his displeaure with the deal. "How it works in the 21st century: Unions are dead," he wrote.

The tentative agreement also means that instead of striking today, the Bombers will host the Toronto Argonauts in their first exhibition game, as planned. On Sunday, several Bombers players vowed to focus on that. "We knew this morning we'd be playing," said quarterback Drew Willy, who said he hadn't heard the specifics of the deal. "Everything goes as planned now, we just make sure we're mentally and physically ready to go."

Veteran linebacker Korey Banks, never one to bite his tongue, also said he hadn't had a chance to look over the details of the proposed CBA. "After this game, I'll probably give it a little thought," he said. "If it's good, I'll vote for it... to be continued."

And Bombers defensive end Alex Suber, who Tweeted some frustration on Saturday night -- "That was a waste of time," he wrote, then added "back to Football; It never left" -- was focused straight ahead. "I just want it to get over with, so we can play," he said. "I'm just happy to play, man. It's kind of been boring, that's (the CBA) the only thing you guys talk about."

Finally, the same refrain from January, who will not be a prospective owner of the Los Angeles Clippers under this or any other CBA. "I had a four-hour conference call that took enough focus away from this game," he said. "The good news is we're on the field, we're going to be coming out here and playing in front of our fans. I'm a football player by trade, so I'd like to focus on my job more than some of the other stuff."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 9, 2014 C11

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