is THIS the next CFL Commish???

A Toronto sports marketing executive whose father helped fast-food chain McDonald's break into Communist Russia has emerged as a frontrunner to become the Canadian Football League's next commissioner.

Mark Cohon, 40, is one of three candidates being interviewed by the league as a potential successor to Tom Wright, two sources familiar with the matter told the Star.

Gene Dunn, chair of the CFL's board of governors and the league's interim commissioner, wouldn't say who the league has contacted during the search.

While Cohon declined to comment yesterday when reached by phone, his candidacy for the CFL's top job bodes well for the league, said several high-ranking sports marketers. It shows both that the CFL has been able to attract interest from mainstream corporate executives, and that it is on more solid ground than in 2002 when Wright was hired and immediately was forced to grapple with financially failing franchises in Toronto and Hamilton.

The youthful Cohon would bring to the league a strong corporate background, a beefy Rolodex and a striking pedigree. His father, George Cohon, is the founder and senior chair of McDonald's of Canada and in 1990, spearheaded the restaurant chain's opening of a location steps from Red Square in Moscow.

The younger Cohon attended Northwestern University law school in Chicago and has since worked as a marketer for both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. He's currently a board member with Toronto company AudienceView Software Corp. and also is chair of the Ontario Science Centre.

"Mark's smart and articulate and a risk-taker," said Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball's executive vice-president of business. "He's got a great personal presence and he's people-smart. Obviously you've got to be able to manage people well when you're a commissioner. He'd be a terrific choice."

Brosnan and Cohon have known each other for 16 years, dating to when Cohon worked in the marketing department of baseball's international division, Brosnan said.

It's still possible that the CFL won't hire Cohon or that he could spurn an offer from the league.

Cohon would not become the league's youngest commissioner. In 2000, the CFL board hired then-39-year-old Michael Lysko. Lysko, too, was a veteran sports marketer. But he was fired after just 15 months and wound up filing a $5.2 million wrongful dismissal case against the league.

While the lawsuit was dismissed in 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal last March ordered several claims reinstated.

Asked what advice he'd offer to his successor, Wright said in an interview that the league should "take a long, hard look at its constitution. It could use some dusting off."

Wright could have been referring to the fact that the league attracts scorn in some corners because its teams routinely flaunt rules on the salary cap, creating an uneven playing field.

Wright also said the complexities of working for such a disparate group of owners can be taxing.

"When you consider that each team has a governor and two alternate governors, you're basically working for 28 bosses," he said.

Argonauts co-owner Howard Sokolowski said didn't know who was on the league's current short list. But he said he thinks the next league commissioner's standing with owners should be strengthened with a "hefty" contract for at least five years.

Wright reportedly was paid $400,000 a year.

"We've never been in as strong a position as we are right now," Sokolowski said. "Our TV revenue sharing is increasing and our league-wide cash distributions are increasing."

He said the next commissioner would need "to get everyone on the same page." Initial challenges would include dealing with the dormant Ottawa franchise and the prospect of a new team in Halifax. If the East Coast city is awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a stadium is built, Sokolowski said the CFL would look to expand to Atlantic Canada.

Sounds to me (from that article) that he'd be a decent choice. Experience in marketing is good ...

Appears to be a good candidate.

Based on the article, it sounds like he is a good candidate.

Quite the resume .... plus if he worked for his Dad ... he was probably familiar with McDonalds Ray Krok ... who at one time owned the Padres

What does that have to do with anything?

so more money more money more money.

CFL can nicely Thrive and remove any threat the AFL posses to Stealing Talent.(although AFL will still have Location due to the fact their south of the border)

if CFL teams other than Edmonton can get atleast a minor war chest and build up some Appartments in their Cities thus be able to provide cheap/Quality housing to their players as incentive. Only problem is it would count against the cap(not sure how it would count against) although if all 8 teams do it they can agree to not put it against the cap(teams can provide housing, 1 two bedroom appartment for 2 players)
Also allows for alternate streams of revenue if teams open more then just one 25 room appartment as they could rent those rooms out(to general public or give deals to staff)

Season ticket holders could get deals, 3 year Appartment + season ticket deal. would be sweet.

Just that he may have learned or been exposed to pro-sports management

Krok founded Mcdonalds ... George Cohon started McDonalds Canada

Knowing our league though, I'm sure the CFL will decide on another Lysko type but let's hope not at least.

what ron jeremy wasnt available?


he never worked with says his DAD worked with mcdonalds.

people like u should be shunned!

This guy sounds great ... get 'er done

Yeah i knew who Ray Krok was. I highly doubt though that dude was exposed to the Padres really... I mean it was his dad who worked in McDonalds...

oops, they called him a “risk taker”, not sure that will fly well with the BOG…

Well, if he's a risk taker, then he must have taken risks while working as a marketer for the NBA and MLB, which are behind only the NFL for the best-marketed leagues in North America ...


I loved the way Lysko would slam Sherwood Schwarz and Braley

Agree to an extent but a commish needs to show diplomacy and tact while still getting his agenda done if it is an agenda good for the league. The best way I think is to butter up the toughies like a Braley work on them slowly and surely with a smile on your face, if you are confrontational a lot, these types will fight back and be confrontational and then you often get no way I think except shouting matches and people pissed off at one another. I think Lysko was the confrontational type, no good when you are dealing with big ego owners.

Tom Wright was not a confrontational type, and it didn't work out for him either. Some people just can't be satisfied.
As for the new commissioner, how long will it be before he is forced out as well. Someone should start a pool.

Should have just kept Tom Wright.