GM Gregg blasts chaos with Renegades

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Ottawa Renegades coach John Jenkins threw a grenade two days ago.

Yesterday, team vice-president/general manager Forrest Gregg dropped a bomb.

''They've tried to tear down what we've spent eight months building ... this is war. This is survival, and you're not going to let somebody do something to you like this unless you're stupid," a livid Gregg said about the ongoing rift between his football operations and team consultants John Lisowski and Phil Kershaw.

Speaking from his home in Colorado, the NFL Hall of Famer lashed out at Lisowski and Kershaw, who have taken control over the operation of the club after president Lonie Glieberman announced yesterday he would no longer be in charge of the team's daily business dealings.

The consultants convinced Renegades owner Bernie Glieberman to remove his son from power, and have also attempted to remove Gregg as GM.

Two days ago, Jenkins blasted the consultants for "disloyal"and "sick" attempts to undermine Gregg and Lonie Glieberman, saying the duo were putting personal agendas ahead of the club's development.

Bernie Glieberman also said he will continue to operate the club in Ottawa, but said he wants to know if Renegades fans will continue to support the team.

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The Ottawa Renegades chart a new course today minus team president Lonie Glieberman, but facing as much instability as ever.

The Canadian Football League club's ownership, near-term stewardship, and future leadership are uncertain with training camp less than three months away. For the moment, competing visions from the business and football sides of the operation threaten to poison a third successive season on the field.

Yesterday, the saga took another escalating turn as fan-flashpoint Lonie Glieberman left his day-to-day role with the organization. In so doing, he raised the most pertinent question of all, encouraging the public to visit the Renegades' website (www.ottawarenegades.net) and to deliver a verdict on his father Bernie's ownership.

"Is he the problem or do you support him? Right now, he has mixed feelings as to whether he is the problem," Lonie asked. "Bernie is fully committed if he feels people here want him to be the owner. He doesn't want to do this if he is viewed as the enemy."

The top-level rumbling is heightening concern, and possibly activism, at the CFL office.

Already, several discussions have been held with former Toronto Argonauts and Blue Jays executive Bob Nicholson, whom many stakeholders believe is a star candidate capable of restoring credibility and re-making the Renegades' image.

During league meetings last week in Toronto, commissioner Tom Wright hinted the league's "help and resources" were coming to Bernie Glieberman and minority owner Bill Smith. Smith supported Nicholson when he was offered the chief executive's role with the Renegades in late 2003, but the position ultimately went to John Lisowski, who now serves as Bernie Glieberman's advisor.

Nicholson is the Washington Nationals' vice-president of finance and chief financial officer. The Nationals are owned by Major League Baseball and are up for sale.

The matter of hiring the Renegades' future mouthpiece must wait until Bernie Glieberman speaks, his sensibilities and wallet having been brought to the ultimate test. The Renegades stand to lose at least $2 million in 2006, and the Frank Clair Stadium show will no longer be of Lonie's making.

Bernie Glieberman, who is in Costa Rica on other business, lost confidence in his son's ability to operate and market the football team, and he is also contemplating the role of Renegades general manager Forrest Gregg, a longtime friend. The millionaire builder is generally benevolent, but he wants the Renegades to resemble a business and not one of the many charities he supports in his native Detroit.

"Bernie and Bill Smith, if they could keep their losses to $1 million, would run the team forever," Lisowski said.

For more than a decade, prevailing street logic has suggested that Bernie purchased the Rough Riders, Shreveport Pirates and Renegades for Lonie's gratification and that, minus a blood-bond, his interest would wane. Glieberman has denied that scenario, and he also spoke about correcting his only failed business venture (the CFL) after purchasing the Renegades last June.

Also at that time, Lonie Glieberman pledged he had matured and learned from previous mistakes. Almost immediately, and amid vast opposition, he implemented a business-model adopted from the family's Michigan ski resort.

"Fans are upset with me, some people in the organization are upset with me, the league office is likely upset with me, and, more importantly, my father is quite frustrated," Lonie Glieberman said.

"What is best for the organization is that we bring in a CEO."

Glieberman is also hoping to serve as martyr and will try to convince his father to retain Gregg and head coach John Jenkins above all else and to hire former general manager Eric Tillman to aid with football and public relations.

Lisowski and Phil Kershaw, part-time consultants to Bernie Glieberman, had recommended replacing both Lonie and Gregg, and they want no part of Tillman.

Both have said they have no desire to be club president, but, for now Lisowski and Kershaw will run the club's business affairs.

Lonie Glieberman and the league office will exert pressure on Bernie Glieberman to change the structure quickly, however, knowing that divisions between the consultants and football operations could compound the team's problems.

That feud was fuelled Wednesday, when Jenkins charged that Lisowski and Kershaw were trying to "disillusion" fans by "undermining" existing leadership.

For fans, everything from the team's television policy to its free-agency plan to ticket prices could change. Lisowski said the team was considering blacking out telecasts of home games this season.
The $99 season-ticket sale this spring will proceed, but available tickets will be restricted to the south-side upper-deck, according to Lisowski, who has always supported higher game-day ticket prices than Lonie Glieberman.

Another matter is training camp. Lisowski wants to take the team to CFB Petawawa, provided media coverage would follow, while Gregg and Jenkins are pushing for sites in the city or at Kemptville College

Lisowski is an IDIOT if he blacks out the games...IDIOT

I heard the interview this morning on The Score where Gregg couldn't even remember his starting qb's name.

Get rid of Gregg now any way you can Renegades, there is absolutely no excuse in the world to keep someone like this in your organization, it makes everyone associated with the team look very unprofessional. DO IT NOW!

Something needs to be done quickly that's for sure. Maybe Bernie should dump the whole lot of them and start over from the top down. I'm sure there are enough football people around that would be interested and up to the challenge. He says he wants to run it as a business, now's his chance. As long as he continues to remain loyal to people that the fans don't trust he is fighting a losing battle.

On a seperate note, why is blacking out the home games idiotic? The Eskimos do it and I would think most, if not all, of the teams in the league do it. Part of poor attendance comes from the attitude that fans can watch the game for free on television so why go to the game.

Cheers

From the various articles, it now sound like Bernie may be having doubts. He is asking the fans if they will support him?
This is like a house of cards, it does not look good.

I was under the impression that most games were blacked out locally..... I know in Saskatchewan, only a couple a year are televised within the province, and here (cowtown) I'm fairly certain not all the games are on local TV.

Bernie my friend, imagine if the Renegades were a health care company of some sort like in the States, and the COO of that company, an ex surgeon, couldn't remember the current chief surgeons name in an interview! Do you think that would entice people needing surgery to go to that facility. Not me thank you very much.

Television blackouts are the reason the league lost a generation of fans in the 80s. While people across Canada were inundated with NFL broadcasts, the CFL was hidden away under the veil of the "blackout".

Blacking out games hides your product from those you are trying to reach: those who don't go to games. The TV exposure is not only free advertising, but as I understand it, teams receive more TV money if they agree to have blackouts lifted. The network doesn't have to come up with alternate programming for the blacked-out area, and the sponsors pay more money since their commercials are seen in a greater area, so the network gives extra money to the CFL (who in turn gives it to the home team) to compensate for the alleged reduction in attendance.

But in Hamilton, the seasons with the best attendance were the ones where the blackouts were lifted. When they decided to black out games, attendance dropped. It's a bit counter-intuitive, but that's the way it's always worked here.

A team like Ottawa, that is trying to turn their citizens on to the sport and the team, can't afford to black out games. Even if a few hundred people decide to stay home and watch, at least they're being exposed to the game, and are more likely to go to the next one. Besides, I've always found that usually, the people who say "if it's on TV I'll stay home and watch" probably would have stayed home either way.

Well said BigDave.

I must agree with BigDave here.

The thought of buying tickets for an Alouettes football game would not have crossed my mind had I not been exposed to the games on TV beforehand. Had I not been so thrilled by the Als on TV in 1996, I would not have bought season tickets the following year.

Beside, some people don't go to games because they can't for various reasons, but are eager to go whenever that'll be possible. But if they're never exposed to the games, they don't bond with their team and eventually lose interest. You can't dream of going some place you only read about in the papers. You've got to see the excitement yourself.

It's the same concept when grocery stores offer you to taste some products for free. Why the hell would they give it to you if it didn't make you want to get more of it?

While i agree that Lisowski is an idiot and should be canned, i disagree with your statement that games shouldn't be blacked out. I'm all for the blackouts, forces people who want to see the game to actually go out an purchase tickets. Then when you reach a certain amount of tickets sold for a game, like 24,000 then it would be lifted.

my thoughts exactly, bigdave.

I believe RDS signed a TV contract with the Als that garantees it can broadcast the games whether the stadium is packed or not. No blackouts whatsoever.

I know, I know, it is quite a safe bet in Montreal, our stadium being so small, but my point was a team probably can get a better TV deal if it garantees no blackouts, and a better TV deal can cover some of the losses resulting in less tickets sold, should that happen.

Gotta be a happy medium there somewhere; blackout 3, maybe 4 games - the lesser marquee matchups, get the fans out to the park. Show the other 5 or 6 on TV, especially, in the Renegades case for example, games against the Alouettes where more interest would be there, where people will go to the game and also have a substantial TV audience.

At some point in the not too distant future, the term "blackout" will be a thing of the past. My reasoning is that televisions are better all the time and bigger, real life like in your living room. Having lots of people in the stands won't matter, it will be the on field action that is important and people will pay for it, pay for view. They will be able to make stands look full and make a crowd of 1,000 sound like 100,000. For me, I like going to games and while I like a big crowd, it doesn't matter, just like getting out of the house and watching good sporting entertainment like the CFL. But we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to television IMO.

Ditto for me BigDave. With the CF:L being the best sporting entertainment package and especially on TV, exposure is crucial. It's how you grow your game.L

Lions lifted the blackout here for 4 home games. They have a "magic" number that they use to determine if the blackout should be lifted.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think its the league or the board of Govenors that set the black out rules. Teams can lift them at their own discretion.

Where the heck is the comments area that Lonie wants us to visit on the rens site??? You would think they would set up something, instead of being so far behind. It makes me think he put that there without telling anyone so that it could be there for fans who want to comment. Another joke.

That's the way I understand it as well.

An increasing number of teams are having blackouts lifted. The Cats lift all of them regardless, and I believe the Argos do as well. The Als lift them all, but I don't know whether that's a team decision, or whether it's because all their games are sold out. I thought that the Lions lifted theirs, only because when Braley owned the Ticats, all the blackouts were lifted (and attendance increased.)