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This article was published 15/3/2021 (194 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As announcements go, it was vague at best.
"The Canadian Football League and XFL owners Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, and RedBird Capital have agreed to work together to identify opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football," said the CFL in a release last week.
It didn’t say the two leagues were getting married and that the CFL was throwing its traditions and rulebook out the window, but that one sentence led to more questions — and outrage — than answers.
"I find it interesting that no one is talking about why the CFL, who is on the verge of bankruptcy, is trying to merge with a twice-failed league and what is so exciting about that," said former Winnipeg Blue Bombers fullback John Rush, who’s a free agent, on Twitter.
CJOB’s game-day broadcast team of Bob Irving and seven-time CFL all-star Doug Brown are two of many to have shared similar sentiments online.
"Like am I missing something here? Or is this the literal definition of a sellout?"
But a pair of veterans on the Bombers aren’t jumping to any conclusions on what this could lead to and they’re looking at a potential partnership with an open mind.
"I don’t think you get anywhere in the world if you say no all the time. I think you have to be open to conversations as you never know where they might lead," linebacker Adam Bighill told the Free Press on Monday.
"So, just by (the leagues) talking, doesn’t mean all of a sudden everyone (should) start writing articles on a hypothesis on what might happen and the league is going to go to four downs and you’re no longer going to have the CFL game. Like, those people are completely taking a conversation and turning it into a scenario with no justification. You know, John Rush and his comments are much of the same. It’s just jumping to (conclusions) on no factual basis.
"It’s just conversations at this point and if anything, you would have to trust the CFL and that it’s in the best interest of the league to be in these conversations."
While the XFL news has been grabbing everyone’s attention, offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld said players are more concerned with the state of the 2021 CFL season. Until there’s more clarity on what’s happening with the XFL, he said it’s hard to have an opinion on it.
"There’s just not enough information to even comment on what could really happen. There’s just so much that’s unknown still," said Neufeld, a nine-year CFL vet based out of Saskatoon.
"I think the CFLPA and our president Solomon Elimimian said it best: they’re looking at any avenues to grow the CFL and innovate the league and the game and to be able to push our league worldwide and grow a fan base. I think if they can do that, that’s going to be great, but there are people talking about rules and changes and all of that stuff but there’s just literally no information you could thoroughly or accurately speculate on."
Johnson, also known as The Rock, hasn’t been shy about forming a tag-team with the CFL. On Thursday evening the former WWE superstar-turned-actor tweeted to his 15.1 million Twitter followers that the early dialogue between the CFL and XFL has been "very exciting" and that he has a "deep respect for the legacy of the CFL." He also made an Instagram post the day before that credited the CFL for changing his life. Before stepping into the squared circle, Johnson spent a couple of months on the Calgary Stampeders practice squad in 1995 before getting cut. Johnson has the third-most Instagram followers in the world at 223 million.
It’s likely the most publicity the CFL has gotten since Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp did their best impression of The Rock versus (Stone Cold) Steve Austin.
"He’s one of the most recognizable people on the face of the earth. One of the biggest movie stars of all time. For him to be talking about our league is phenomenal," Neufeld said.
"Any way that we can have people talk about our league and just even get someone to search it up and maybe watch a clip or two or check out an old game and see how cool it is and how unique it is, it’s awesome. He has such a crazy cool story about his history with the league and he’s spoken about it a lot."
Bighill, who’s also a player rep for the CFLPA, admits he was surprised by the announcement, but he doesn’t view it as the CFL pushing a panic button.
"At the end of the day, you don’t get anywhere if you don’t have conversations and ask questions and explore opportunities... If you never explore, you’re going to be doing the same things you’ve been doing. Many would say the things that have been done in the CFL are not as productive as we would’ve hoped," said Bighill.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.