Willes' Musings: The CFL as we know it wouldn't exist without TSN
In honour of the Vancouver Canucks’ win in Washington, here’s something else that’s surprising when it’s good: the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports:
• The sale of the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions continues to drag on, the Toronto Argos are a huge problem, the new franchise in Halifax is surrounded by uncertainty and Calgary needs a new stadium
In many respects it’s business as usual for the CFL, but this week a huge development was announced when TSN extended its broadcast deal with the venerable institution.
It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of this deal, which reportedly runs through 2025 and tops out at $50 million annually. In addition to insuring the financial viability of the league for the next six years, the new contract sends a message to would-be investors about the league’s direction under commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
Ambrosie has ambitious plans to expand the CFL’s reach. Halifax is a big part of that plan, but equally important is establishing the league as a global brand that attracts players from all over the world. That’s an intriguing prospect and if you’ve followed this story you know those players are out there. But it’s going to take a couple of years before they start arriving.
The new TV deal buys the CFL time to see that initiative through. It also answers a lot of the questions about its business outlook. Said this before but it bears repeating. The CFL as we know it wouldn’t exist without TSN.
• As for the big game , Andrew Harris will register as a polarizing figure to some after he tested positive for PEDs during the season. As per CFL policy, Harris served a two-game suspension as a first-time offender which, theoretically, should have closed the books on the subject.
It just didn’t in the minds of some.
You can believe what you want about Harris, who made CFL history when he was named MOP and outstanding Canadian in the Bombers’ convincing win over Hamilton in Sunday’s Dominion final. But if you’re familiar with his backstory, you tend to believe in the man.
He beat massive odds 10 years ago to make it from the junior Vancouver Island Raiders to the Lions as a special teamer. He beat even longer odds to establish himself as a starting running back in the Lions’ march to the 2011 Grey Cup. Four years later, the Lions cheaped out and let him walk to free agency.
He’s since averaged just under 1,200 rushing yards a season in four years with the Bombers.
At 32, he’s lost nothing to age, which will heighten suspicions. But he’s always been a workout freak who looked after himself.
In the end, those qualities and his performance on Sunday will define him, not one positive drug test in a 10-year career.
• One other thing about Sunday’s matchup. Wasn’t sure if that was the Blue Bombers who won the Cup or a Lions’ alumni team.
Harris, of course, is an ex-Lion. Middle linebacker Adam Bighill, who contributed a big fumble recovery, ex-Lion. All-Pro corner Winston Rose, ex-Lion. Right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, ex-Lion. There’s also defensive back Chandler Fenner and another in DB Anthony Gaitor, who was on the injured list.
As for Willie Jefferson, the Bombers’ standout defensive end. look for the Leos to make a big play for him in free agency this offseason. He has a history with GM Ed Hervey and Hervey has made the defensive line a priority this offseason.
• The Seattle Seahawks tried their damnedest to give away Sunday’s game in Philadelphia but the Eagles just wouldn’t take it.
Won’t spend a long time analyzing their comprehensively sloppy 17-9 victory, highlighted, such as it was, by seven turnovers for the ‘Hawks’ defence.
The important things is, at 9-2, the Seahawks still have a shot at winning the NFC and if they have home field in the playoffs, they have a shot at the Super Bowl.
• Chris Tanev’s line against the Capitals reads 25:41 of ice time, one shot on goal, no blocked shots and a minus-one rating. Before you ask, his fancy statistics were also terrible.
But here’s the thing. If you were watching you know his impact on the game was great. The numbers often tell you something. They don’t tell you everything.
• And finally, if you’re not following the Canucks at 50 series running in our two sheets, we urge you to start.
We’ll concede the franchise’s history is lacking that defining moment supplied by, you know, a Stanley Cup win. But in terms of the stories and their characters, the best writer on his best day couldn’t create some of the tales the Canucks have routinely served up in their 50 years.
Unfortunately, that history is virtually unknown outside of this province, but who cares? These are our stories, part of the tissue that connects the people of B.C. They have to be preserved, especially in a day and age when perspective is expressed in 280 characters.
On Friday, I took in the Canuck’s alumni luncheon and, my Lord, Batman movies don’t deliver characters as rich as those in attendance. There was Brian Burke holding court. Tiger Williams embraced Gino Odjick. I chatted with the great Tom Larscheid and the equally great Jim Robson. There was Stan Smyl, Harold Snepsts, Orland Kurtenbach.
From the recent past there was also Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins and Kyle Wellwood. Always loved Welly.
Kept thinking Pat Quinn should be here because every one in that room was connected to the big Irishman in some way. But that’s the thing about stories. As long as their told, as long as their kept alive, those people are kept alive with them.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019