Mark Cohon Speaks to the Fans!

I've decided to sticky this because there has been a significant amount of talk about the Bills coming to Toronto. A lot of posters have been talking as though the CFL will fold next season.

Here are the words from our commissioner!

Friday, February 8, 2008

It’s been quite a week for all of us who love the Canadian Football League, and I wanted to make sure you heard directly from me.

I want to start by saying something you might not hear often enough, and that’s “thank you.?

Thank you for your support, your passion, your ongoing love affair with one of the greatest games in the world, football played the Canadian way, on a field that’s wide and long, with three downs, the rouge, and the joyous possibility that a trip to the Grey Cup will be decided by two Canadians booting the ball in and out of the end zone, again and again, in the snow.

You buy the tickets, wear the swag, and wave our flag. You are the CFL, and we thank you.

Our league is in the best shape it has been in years, and while our teams have worked hard to make that happen, the credit really belongs to you. We’re coming off a year in which our attendance was the highest it has been since 1983, sponsorships were up, television ratings remained strong, and the Grey Cup, in Toronto, was one of the most successful in history.

It’s easy to lose sight of that, when you read some of the commentary predicting our demise – a prediction that’s been wrong countless times before, and that’s wrong again this time.

Look, everyone in the CFL is mindful of the challenges posed by even the possibility of an NFL team moving to Toronto. We have to be clear eyed and sober minded about the potential challenges to our teams in southern Ontario. That’s one reason why I and the rest of the league’s leadership are working to achieve a long-term agreement with the NFL that’s positive for our league. And you should know: we would never pursue an agreement that wasn’t positive for our league and positive, most of all, for our fans.

At the same time, we can’t allow ourselves to get carried away by speculation or hype. Here are the facts that we do know: the Bills will play eight games in Toronto over the next five years, three of them pre-season games. This year, there will be one pre-season NFL game in Toronto. That’s happened before and had little impact on our teams. This year, there will be one regular season NFL game in Toronto. And it will be played several days after the Grey Cup in Montreal.

The Argos believe they have found a way to turn this into an opportunity to add value to their season ticket package, and possibly expose some new ticket holders to our great game. What we all agree on is we need to work towards a comprehensive agreement with the NFL that preserves and strengthens Canadian football and the CFL. You should know that this will take time. This is a complicated issue and, as one of the guardians of our game, I’m taking a very careful, methodical approach. You should also know that we’ll do everything we can to strengthen our league, in those discussions and beyond them.

Many of you have contacted me to ask what you can do. The answer is simple: Support our teams. Renew your season tickets, or buy season tickets for the first time. If your son or daughter is invited to a birthday party, take a CFL t-shirt or jersey as a gift. Pick up a CFL ball, and play some catch with your own kids. Show your colours.

If you’re like me, and have loved this league for a long time, then you understand something others might not. This league is pretty tough. We’ve faced challenges before, and we’ve always come through, thanks to you. Our game means too much to us, and too much to our fellow Canadians, for us to be discouraged by hype or headlines. We’re not going away. We’re getting stronger. And we’re looking forward to a great season.

Free agency starts in a week, with the draft not too far behind. Before we know it, the snow will be gone and CFL training camps will be open. I can’t wait, either. Thanks again.

Mark

Well said Mr. Cohon, well said!!!

Thank you commish. I just ask one thing, whatever deal you make, do not make the CFL a minor league or make team affiliations with NFL teams (eg: BC Lions affilaited with Arizona Cardinals). Otherwise i can pretty much guarantee i'm only gonna watch hockey.

A story about me may help you understand, at least my CFL story. I have been goin to games since 1985 or so, when i was just old enough to be able to go really, i might've gone when i was a baby which was the year BC Place was built, i think BC Place is older than me by like 2 months or something. I remember goin to games in the 80's tho for sure with my dad and family, and i must say the west final last year we all knew there was nothing the BC lions could've done to win that game, no team could've ever no matter how many legends were on it, and we really enjoyed the atmosphere (altho i had a few qualms with how the commercials were used, i felt a lot of the time it drowned out the sound of the fans at the wrong times, maybe it was a timing issue, i got no problems you bring an NFL guy in for that btw lol) and it really showed me how great a league this is, our own country of 30 million with traditions bigger than countries of larger sizes, including our canadian game which predates the american game by over 6 years. OF course we all know it originated with rugby.

If you look between Australia Canada and America and look at the games its really interesting to see, and some are a lot closer to rugby, like aussie. I watch every game, and one thing i could never stand, and i'm sorry its my personal opinion, so i just i can never get into the NFL. I don't know what it is, i watch it and i find it so boring, not to mention i can only watch so many teams, lions, giants, canucks, used to be grizzlies until David Stern the NBA, and Micheal Heisner stole the team from Vancouver (who moves a team with 13th best attendance and a 30th place team for six straight seasons, sounds pretty stolen to me, not to mention all the NBA players that had no idea what vancouver was till they got here and cried all the way here until they got here of course, which made for troublesome drafts cuz obviously they're not in vancouver. As well, its not like the american education system would want to teach there children about a city that blow the doors off of all of theirs, but thats another story for another time) so i really hate the NBA of course espescially if you remember the Lakers game where the Grizzlies actually beat them with a buzzer beater and the ref didn't count it cuz he was biased, and it just showed me how much of a joke that league is.

And so after that they're playing Raptors game on CBC, Vancouver tax payers are having to pay for an NBA broadcast. I think thats disgusting. I would never support the Craptors if my life depended on it, and so of course i hate the Blue jays, and i most certainly will hate the Toronto Centreoftheuniversians (my guess for the NFL team name in TOronto) and give even less support to the NFL then ever before. But i can deal with the leagues coexisting, but minor league affiliation, and team affiliations of any kind is where i draw the line completely, and i say no more.

So commissioner in conclusion i ask that you at the very least not let them make the CFL a minor league, or minor league affiliation. But hopefully keep the CFL ouf ot Toronto, there's actually a group on facebook i found called "keep the NFL out of CAnada" showing that some other people feel that way too, so i hope that can be stopped.

Wow that was long, and written like it was directly to the Commissioner.
Question vanhalendrlband....what exactly do you think the CFL is now? If players from the CFL are good enough...they go to the NFL, if they get cut at the NFL camp...they return.
Let's not kid ourselves...it's already a minor league. Thankfully due to practice squads in the NFL...it isn't a call-up and send down type relationship.

I applaud the commish with his words...smart move to send out a message like that. The problem is nobody on these boards seems to want to listen.
On the Ticat forum there is a big whine-fest about season ticket prices (even with early bird special rates and a playoff guarantee)...and those same individuals whine about how the NFL better not show up and cripple our league.
You can't have it both ways people. You either support the CFL or you don't. If you don't...you can't cry when the Bills move to Toronto and cause two of North America's oldest sports franchises to fold up shop, reducing the CFL to a 6 team league.
Do I think it will happen? No. Like the Commish said..this league is tough and has gone through worse things. However, if you choose not to support your team you are making the CFL weaker and weaker.

If the seats are full it won't matter what team moves where, the CFL will survive and be strong. So fill the seats and you have nothing to worry about.