Well, here we go again. More talk about bringing a National Football League team to Toronto. That's right, Toronto, not necessarily Canada.
Oh, how wonderful it would be to be the 33rd franchise in 'The Machine' of the NFL. To pay $225 for a ticket and $50 for parking and to be overwhelmed by the magnificence of a 250 lbs. quarterback. Yes, I am being sarcastic and perhaps a little cynical because you have to be careful what you wish for - you just might get it.
I love the NFL, I really do. I know that the NFL is not a person; it is an organization and an inanimate object to a large extent, but I love it. The hype, the image, the skill and physical ability of the players, the never ending viciousness, and many times unseen collisions that the players absorb week in and week out. It is unbelievably competitive when you consider the average career is 2 ½ to 3 years, depending on the position. Its ruthlessness and intense pressure is addictive to me.
I also have become very fond of my country and its individuality. I have had endless conversations with people (mainly in the gym) that rant and rave about the National Football League and its entertainment value. Yet, if I ask them to name four starters on offense, bewilderment and silence will be the response.
Maybe it is because I live so close to Toronto, but it always surprises me why we have to justify what we have here compared to the United States. I have never felt infearer to the U.S. nor superior. I am extremely happy they are our neighbours and have concluded that my opinion of Americans is higher than many Canadians. I don't see Americans and Canadians so much different as similar. I think Americans eat too much and idolize celebrity too much but other then that, I like them.
But I also like being from a different country - Canada. Not better and not worse, just from Canada. Damen Allen throws for more yards then any other quarterback anywhere and gets questioned for consideration into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Do I think he should be there? Not really. The skill set in Canada is so different than the skill set for American football. He belongs in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, that's it.
I have seen many American players fall apart trying to play Canadian football. As I have seen the Canadians who attempt NFL football. Are the better players in the NFL? Yes, without a doubt. But that is their best players, not ours. You cannot compare a country that has over 300 million people to a country that has over 30 million. You can't compare a country where football is taken very, very seriously and generates billions of dollars to a country that looks at football as a sport and survives financialy.
If the National Football League came to Canada, it would crush the CFL in Ontario. Not in the Maritimes or out west in British Columbia but in Ontario, everyone would jump on for the ride. Then over time, when the novelty wears off and you have a few 9-6 games like Seattle over Detroit last Sunday, there would be a swell of interest back towards the CFL. It is not a guarantee of success in Toronto.
So far, we have lost a basketball team in Vancouver, a hockey team in Winnipeg, another hockey team in Quebec, and a baseball team in Montreal. Canada is not a sports-first environment. Believe me, I know because I lived in Arizona and Dallas 10 years collectively and have seen their high school and collage sports explode in appreciation and seen how apathetic people are here in Canada. The environment, history, respect, population, facilities, everything is big in the U.S. when it comes to football, basketball, baseball and in pockets, hockey. That is their reason for success, the foundation of youth and a never ending population of fanatical appreciation.
I kind of like the way things are right now. We have the Stanley Cup and they have the Super Bowl. We have to employ Canadians in the CFL while the best players are in the NFL. Our TV deal is in the lower millions, theirs is past a billion.
The U.S. is the land of extremes. You can make a million dollars fast and you can spend it even faster. In Canada, well, you can make a million dollars, no doubt, but then you have a GST issue, will probably be audited and will it really make you happy?
I always look forward to any opportunity to socialize with American friends. Lord knows they can throw a party. But once it gets past midnight and you start looking at your watch thinking about the next day, you really appreciate home. And although you had a great time, you kind of hope no one shows up at your home next week.
America, you're a friend of mine. The NFL is the greatest sports league in the world. But if you ask me would I like a Toronto NFL team, I would say wow - not yes and not no. But I would be thinking not really.
For TSN.ca, I'm Chris Schultz.