Leaders arise and become visible when there is an opportunity to present the new and untried. The Canadian Football League has taken an initial step to improve the level of play in the league by sanctioning clubs the opportunity to conduct organized team activities in the off-season. For decades teams have held invitation only “try out” weekends if you will, with selected skill position veterans which included quarterbacks. There was an unspoken understanding that if no one spoke of it, then it was accepted and they were usually held in the deep south with warm weather and neer an eye from above the 49th parallel.
The average CFL salary certainly does not provide for independent wealth by any stretch of the imagination but the quarterbacks are paid handsomely for servicing the singularly most important position on the team. Gone are the days of a true “off season” where the majority of players have winter jobs and are rendered unavailable for group activity. All players spend their off-season training their bodies to uphold the rigors of a long regular season. Many are rehabilitating injuries suffered from that season. And there is not one player that can not benefit from additional instruction and position specific skill development.
In our quest for change we openly spoke to the need of quarterback evaluation and skill enhancement and the opportunity to begin presenting our teaching methodology and schematics. The league informed us that this was unacceptable and publicly scolded us as the Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibited such activity. We were in complete error for not reviewing the CBA prior to publicly speaking.
We so strongly believe in the CFL with all intentions of making the product stronger searching out opportunities to change, improve, and be innovative by presenting proven ideas from other professional football leagues that are conducive to said goals. We continued to articulate our vision at the 2009 General Managers meetings in Las Vegas presenting that an established staff would be allowed to hold a single camp and a new staff would be given the opportunity to hold two. These camps would be at the discretion of the individual club at a location of their choosing. We also would like to see that all players under contract and available negotiation list players be included. Our base-line intentions have been implemented and it is serving the teams taking advantage of it well.
The challenge to grow provides a training ground to visit such topics such as truly keeping the negotiation list confidential and private from the media and that all reports written on said players remains the property of the club and is therefore transferred to a new regime so they have an initial platform to work from.
Removing “extra benefits” from the Salary Management System such as providing meals or snacks for the players the night before a game.
Eliminating the “four and half hour rule”. It is archaic and no longer applicable as players do not work another job during the season. It hampers the ability to expand schematics and preparation. Take the totality of the work week which would be based on four days of practice and it equates to 18 hours. You read that correctly, the work week for a CFL player is mandated to 18 hours a week with another four half hours the day after a game for film evaluation and treatment, so 22 and half in reality. Not a bad gig if you can get it. Most clubs do not use the entire alloted time as the day before the game is on average one and half to two and half hours with meetings and a walk through or mock game. Counting down to the day before the game as Day 0, take Day 3 and Day 2 as a full 8 hour days providing lunch at the facility. Day 1 would then be reduced to 5 hours with lunch included and finally Day 0 limited to 2 and half hours and a snack as the players leave. The work week becomes 23 and half hours of game prep adding the four and half post game for 28 hours in the course of a regular week. This provides structure, extra teaching time, some control of daily nutrition and the additional team building.
If 22 and half hours is non-negotiable, restructure the use of the total time to the discretion of the coaching staff eliminating the four and half hours a day parameters. The point is, get the most out of your allotment so that the hours that go unused the day after a game and the day before, provide value during weekly preparation. Today’s players need the structure and the extra teaching time. The product on the field, particularly early in the season will be noticeably improved.
Consider one extra week of training camp before a pre-season game is held for an enhanced evaluation of players. Those that have never seen a CFL game, namely the imports, need the additional acclimation and the pre-season won’t be quite as error filled.
Lastly, and this will be addressed as expansion progresses in Ottawa and TD Atlantic but do not schedule a team within your division four times and another game in the pre-season. If you have an opponent four times already, play a different team in the pre-season.
The advancement of the CFL is an adventure and if we pool our talents, test our abilities and skills then it will be an enjoyable trek.