Player Issues In Canadian Football League

The Canadian Football League runs into PR and player issues


The Canadian Football League, the land of cold weather games, larger fields and bigger balls. It’s the breeding ground that has produced well known NFLers like Doug Flutie, Cameron Wake and Warren Moon. It’s also where Lawrence Phillips and other screw-ups went for one more kick at the can.

Player Issues In Canadian Football League

This offseason has produced some bizarre headlines in the league, most not all that flattering. But two really stand out as being a crying shame.

Johnny Manziel

It was widely speculated that Johnny Football would re-launch his professional football career north of the border. First, the commissioner of the league cleared up his status, saying that despite his legal issues in the past, he would indeed now be eligible to sign with a team north of the border.

The Hamilton Tigercats, a middling team based in Ontario held his rights. Manziel and his agent forced the team’s hand by making them offer him a contract or he’d be a free agent in the league. The team did see Manziel work out and offered him a deal. For Johnny and his agent, it was well below what they thought he was worth. This caused snide remarks from a ton of CFL players, all saying that Manziel had accomplished nothing professionally. Hey, can you blame them?

Eventually, Manziel agreed to sign on to a spring league that’s heavily scouted by NFL teams. Good luck, Mr. Football.

A CFL contract means no NFL

It’s the unwritten rule in the CFL. Everyone knows that every single player in the league would rather be playing down south in the NFL. The National Football League is the holy grail and anything less will always remain a disappointment to the average CFL player.

That said, when success does happen in the CFL, it can lead to renewed interest and opportunity south of the border. So, when James Wilder Jr. of the Toronto Argonauts wanted out of his contract in order to explore options in the NFL, it didn’t turn out so well. He wanted out to be able to try out or sign with an NFL team. The Argonauts, technically the oldest professional football team in North America, said no, that Wilder must honor (or honour in Canada) his contract.

The result was that Wilder went nuts. He posted a bunch of times on social media. It also prompted a few other players to recount similar stories. And thus, the notion of an NFL opt-out clause became a hot button this offseason. For the record, some CFL teams are more forgiving than others when it comes to tryouts for their players down south. Mr. Wilder was simply out of luck.

Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.