Just when we heard that nosense last week from the anti CFL friendly media here in the self proclaimed Center of the Universe(COTU) and to include the suspected Toronto Star and Toronto Sun.
Well, look what I came upon tonight, our formerly solid and yes very good sports writer Steven Brunt. At one time this Hamilton born and still living there lad, couldn't say enough good things about the CFL. The last few years I have noticed his turn about face and more if not the vast majority of the CFL stories have a negative slant.
So, what does Steve do, read for yourself. More amo into the fire and I don't have to tell many of you not living in the COTU how this will be picked up tomorrow big time again here in the media and they will run with it and go nuts.
"A Canadian NFL team may not be such a long shot"
Globe and Mail Update
There are all kinds of good, rational reasons why the National Football League won't be coming to Canada anytime soon.
But if someone has a billion dollars burning a hole in their pocket, you can throw all of them out the window.
And that would appear to be the case.
Monday, in a story about the NFL's return to New Orleans, Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported that Saints' owner Tom Benson had been offered that princely sum of money by a "Canadian consortium", hoping to buy the franchise in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and presumably move it to Toronto.
In the context of King's story, it was a throwaway piece of information in a report detailing Benson's strong commitment to keeping the franchise in New Orleans despite the many obstacles that entailed. But here, the implications are clear and profound.
Already, the partnership of Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications — not identified as the "consortium" in the story, but it's hard to imagine it being anyone else - has gone public about their plans for bringing the NFL to the city.
In any expansion scenario, they'd be a distinct long shot. The league isn't desperate to grow right now beyond its 32 teams, its first priority is to place a franchise back in Los Angeles, and it really has nothing to gain economically by coming to Canada, a market that doesn't serve its main benefactor, U.S. network television, and which it can already exploit from afar.
Plus, at least under the recently-departed commissioner Paul Tagliabue, there was an understanding that the NFL had no interest in harming the Canadian Football League, and in fact believed the benefits of having some form of the game played in as many places as possible outweighed any theoretical payoff from a Canadian franchise.
So no, the NFL probably isn't coming here as part of some master plan for world domination.
But this is an entirely different scenario, one which the NFL on some level might frown upon — at least for public consumption - but which in the end, it would not have the legal power to prevent.
New Orleans was a borderline big league market even before the hurricane hit. Though the game Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, and in fact, this entire season at the Superdome, is sold out, there remain questions about the Saints' long-term viability in a city that will never again be what it was. Benson, for his part, is making no promises.
What's telling is that the Canadian group was ready to move so quickly, was ready to leap into a situation that would have been politically charged (the NFL would have taken plenty of heat for allowing a team abandon New Orleans at this point), and was ready to write the largest check ever for a North American professional sports franchise. (Daniel Snyder paid $800-million in 1999 when he purchased the Washington Redskins from the state of Jack Kent Cooke.)
So our wealthy countrymen, whoever they might be, are clearly aggressive bordering on predatory, and aren't necessarily worried about NFL protocol if it gets in the way of their acquiring a team. Where they turn their attentions next will depend on where an opportunity presents itself.
Right now, there are no NFL teams on the market, though there are other motivated buyers waiting in the weeds. There are franchises that might be vulnerable in the long term (Jacksonville comes to mind), but only one other than New Orleans which might be in play sooner rather than later.
Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, is 87-years-old. He is already on record as saying that inheritance taxes are going to make it nearly impossible for him to leave the team to his children. And Buffalo, for all of the passion of its fan base, is a shrinking industrial city with a tiny corporate base, at least compared to the other places that currently house NFL teams.
Just as Cooke's heirs couldn't dictate who bought the Redskins, the Bills, after Wilson, are destined to go to highest bidder.
The team isn't worth a billion dollars in Buffalo. But apparently it is worth at least that much if it could be moved somewhere else. Since Toronto is just up the road, after the grumbling subsided, the NFL could try and spin it as a shift within the same general marketplace, a short drive for all of those long-suffering fans.
That's all empty fantasy, as it has been for the past thirty years plus, if the money and the will aren't there.
But it's becoming clearer by the day that they are.