A new survey on the CFL was released late last week and its results created a firestorm among football fans on social media.
The survey was conducted by Leger, a Canadian-owned market research and analytics company, and it included 1,503 Canadians aged 18 years or older. People were asked several questions, including their level of fandom for the CFL, as well as potential changes to the rule book to reflect a more NFL-style game.
Beyond some of the obvious results, such as most fans being male (64 per cent) and older, with many who claimed to be "diehard" supporters of the CFL over the age of 55, there were some troubling statistics. Those included just three per cent of Canadians having a strong affinity for the league, with 68 per cent of Maritimers and 64 per cent of Quebecers apparently having no interest at all.
But what caught the most heat was a 20 per cent increase in support by the 18-34 demographic wanting the CFL to look more like the NFL, including a smaller field, four downs and all the other rules that come with the American game. What followed was a flurry of responses to help improve the game.
I won’t go over these suggestions here (admittedly, there’s some skepticism with these types of surveys), but I am interested in hearing what readers would do to increase eyeballs on the CFL. It’s a question that’s been asked seemingly forever, as the league has continued over the years to tinker with its business model and on-field product in hopes of brighter days.
Would four downs work for you? What about a smaller field? What hasn’t the CFL tried, or perhaps there’s an idea worth revisiting? My email is below.
Let’s move on, with what is the latest instalment of CFL Rundown, where we look back on the week that was in the three-down game.
1) Very cool that the Minnesota Vikings have requested an interview with Philadelphia Eagles VP of football operations Catherine Raîche. Raîche cut her teeth as an unpaid intern with the Montreal Alouettes, where she would eventually become assistant general manager and then director of football administration with the Toronto Argonauts. If she were to get the Vikings job, she’d not only be the first female NFL GM but the youngest, male or female, at just 33 years old.
2) Bodog has released its odds for the 2022 Grey Cup, and it’s no surprise the Bombers (+200) lead the pack to repeat for a third straight title. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts are in a three-way tie at +400, with the Calgary Stampeders (+550), Montreal Alouettes (+850), B.C. Lions (+1000), Ottawa Redblacks (+1500) and Edmonton Elks (+1500) trailing the pack.
3) Former defensive lineman John Bowman is back in the CFL, after accepting the DL coach position with the B.C. Lions. Bowman spent all 14 years in the league with the Alouettes, winning the Grey Cup twice. A vocal leader, he should prove to be a nice addition for a Lions D-line that registered the fewest sacks last year, with just 23.
4) The Tiger-Cats have made their decision, signing QB Dane Evans to a two-year deal, which will officially end Jeremiah Masoli’s time in Steeltown. Masoli is a great player, and will be highly sought after by another club, but given what we’ve seen from Evans the last two seasons it was the obvious choice.
5) Evans, who has appeared in back-to-back Grey Cups, is reported to be making a maximum of $435,000 in 2022 and $460,000 in 2023. That’s a good price for one of the CFL’s budding pivots, and when you consider Saskatchewan’s Cody Fajardo is making north of $500,000, it feels like an absolute steal.
6) Other notable CFL signings: DL Mike Rose (Cgy), DL Derek Wiggin (Cgy), Rec Shaq Evans (Ssk), Rec Kyran Moore (Sask), Rec DaVaris Daniels (Tor), K Boris Bede (Tor), OL Geoff Gray (Wpg), FB Mike Miller (Wpg).
7) Masoli and Trevor Harris now headline the top free-agent QBs, assuming Zach Collaros, B.C.’s Michael Reilly (which is a big if) and McLeod Bethel-Thompson in Toronto sign with their respective teams. That leaves just Ottawa, though I wouldn’t rule out Toronto, B.C. or Edmonton as potential destinations.
8) I’m still in the camp that strongly believes Collaros re-signs with the Bombers. Despite all the speculation that’s been tossed around on the subject in recent days and weeks, I just can’t see him going anywhere else. Two biggest reasons: Mike O’Shea and Winnipeg’s O-line. Oh, and do you really want to play against Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat?
9) Anyone else curious what’s up with QB Nick Arbuckle and why he can’t seem to earn the confidence of his head coaches? Despite restructuring his deal to include $100,000 in guaranteed money — a hefty chunk of change for CFL standards — Elks GM and head coach Chris Jones wasn’t ready to confirm Arbuckle as his No. 1. While Jones did say everyone’s job is up for competition, it’s odd not to provide a vote of confidence to a guy that probably needs it after being bounced around the league in recent years.
10) Bombers Canadian defensive end Jonathan Kongbo has turned a two-year CFL career into a shot down south, inking a contract with the NFL’s Denver Broncos. At 25, standing 6-5 and weighing 266 pounds, Kongbo is dripping with potential. He couldn’t carve out a starting role in Winnipeg but hopefully he gets a chance to show his worth with the Broncos.
11) The Redblacks have finalized their coaching staff. Joining head coach Paul LaPolice are Mike Benevides (DC), Bob Dyce (STC), Paul Charbonneau (OL), Alex Suber (REC), Will Arndt (QB), Carey Bailey (DL), Patrick Bourgon (LB), Greg Knox (DB), with a running backs coach still to be named. I already miss OL coach Bob Wylie.
12) In other Ottawa news, dynamic return man DeVonte Dedmon may also be heading south. Dedmon, the CFL’s reigning most outstanding special-teams player and the only thing exciting to come out of the Redblacks 2021 season, worked out with the L.A. Chargers this week, following visits work with four other NFL clubs. His exit would be a massive loss to Ottawa, as Dedmon was a true game-changer, including five return touchdowns in just 11 games last year.
13) With Lions receiver Lucky Whitehead signing a two-year deal last week that made him the highest paid receiver in the CFL, what might that mean for Bryan Burnham and his future in B.C.? You could make a case Burnham is not only better than Whitehead, but arguably the best receiver in the CFL. There’s no way the Lions can pay two receivers at a price tag of more than $200,000, which could mean a new football home for Burnham.
14) At 31, Burnham still has some gas left in the tank and would be an asset to any team. He’s averaged 1,216 receiving yards over the last five seasons but is coming off his lowest yardage (965) over that stretch. He’s still missing a Grey Cup on his resume, so what might his appetite be to go somewhere like Winnipeg? It’s still unclear whether the Bombers will be able to re-sign Kenny Lawler, especially with all the NFL interest he’s been garnering. Winnipeg has been very interested in Burnham in the past.
15) There’s nothing official, but the front-runner for the president job with the Elks appears to belong to Victor Cui. Cui is the CEO of One Championship, a mixed martial arts outfit based out of Singapore with an evaluation of $1 billion. Prior to joining ONE in 2011, Cui had more than a decade of experience in sports media industry, including working as a senior executive at ESPN Star Sports and the PGA Tour, as well as roles with the X Games, Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and more. Perhaps most notable, though, he was born in Edmonton, and would understand the market well.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.