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NFL in Toronto? Please spare us that tired pipe dream
Tue Dec 5 2006
ANOTHER year, another attempt by Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey to live out his American dream of bringing a new or used NFL team to Ontario.
As was reported last week in the Free Press, Toronto is almost back on the map of NFL expansion. When we say on the map, we don't mean that new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has designs on making it happen, he simply hasn't ruled it out when he remarks to the Toronto Sun that, "I don't know if it will become a reality, but it's certainly a possibility."
To me, getting worked up about a new commissioner saying something is "a possibility" is akin to Jim Carrey hearing from Lauren Holly in the movie Dumb and Dumber that he has a one-in-a-million shot of getting together with her -- to which he enthusiastically replies: "So you're telling me there's a chance!"
Prospective imaginations aside, the only thing that appears to have changed since 1997 when the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers last played an NFL game in Toronto and Godfrey couldn't fill all the seats, is the name of the stadium -- back then it was the SkyDome and now it's the Rogers Centre -- and the fact that Godfrey now has an undisclosed secret plan that could allow both an NFL franchise and the current CFL Toronto Argonauts to co-exist.
While Toronto's inability to fill a football stadium to capacity is nothing new, Godfrey's comments to Mike Koreen and the Toronto Sun sure are, and they require the attention of this CFL and NFL veteran to gauge their plausibility and accuracy.
"I have a plan if an NFL team comes to Toronto that would help the Argonauts."
Help them file for Chapter 11, maybe. The best plan to help the Argonauts is for an NFL team to NEVER come to Toronto. But let's not get carried away, maybe Godfrey is about to tell us what kind of miraculous idea he has come up with that could possibly help keep the Argos and CFL afloat if this pipe dream ever actually paid out.
"I'm not prepared to reveal details of that."
Of course you aren't Paul, because there is no such feasible plan that could be devised to do what you advertise. The Argonauts have a hard enough time staying afloat without having a multibillion-dollar rival move in next door and compete for the same customers and market space.
"I'm a strong supporter of a strong Canadian Football League."
So strong in fact that the entire CFL would most likely collapse if you got your hands on an NFL franchise. For the most part, people that solicit an NFL franchise are strong supporters of cash more than anything else because NFL franchises are liquid green with enough revenue dispersals from television alone to cover their operating expenses.
"The city is big enough and if the leagues don't completely overlap on top of each other, they both could co-exist in the city."
Problem is the leagues do overlap on top of each other -- at least for September, October and November, or roughly 12 games -- so there is no way they could co-exist in the same city. But hold on, maybe that is part of the secret plan that Godfrey has for the Argonauts and the CFL. Maybe his undisclosed idea has the entire CFL starting in March so the Argonauts don't compete with the Toronto Americanas! The only thing that appears different to me in what has now become almost a yearly appeal to NFL executives for a piece of this colossal football machine, is that Paul Godfrey is now trying to win over the support and favour of millions of CFL fans that follow a league that has been around longer than the NFL by selling us a naive dream that the leagues could co-exist in Canada.
You would think if there really was a tenable plan that could have the teams share an already-apathetic marketplace, now would be the time to start winning over the entertainment dollars of the average Canadian sports fan, instead of later.
Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.