Today CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie gave his State of the League address to members of the media ahead of this weekend’s 108th Grey Cup. He also took questions from the reporters, and the topic of the XFL came up.
” I think the conversations we had with the XFL group were very positive. They’re a very nice group of people. And there was a real thoughtfulness to the way they approached our discussion with them… we talked about everything. We talked about what it might look like if we were to come together… “
Ultimately, he says the CFL wants to grow its league and do that without the XFL. But the talks did lead to some fundamental changes coming to the Canadian Football League.
“The governors today want to grow this League… I think we’ve really popped the Cork on an opportunity to think differently than perhaps we have in the past… to look at all issues, but not through the solutions first, but through the lens of principles first.”
“What is it that we want to accomplish? What do we want our game to look like? How do we make our game safer for our players? What kind of changes should we that type of change? So once you answer the principled questions first, you get an opportunity to think about the solutions that might follow. And I’m really happy to say that we’ve got a group of governors that I think, frankly, are supported by the fans that want to see us do everything we can to help this game to reach its full potential.”
Ambrosie credits discussions with the XFL playing a role in how the CFL will look at issues differently.
“That, in part speaks to the quality of the conversation that we had with the XFL. It was about, how do we do this? What might we do? What would it look like if we did this? What are all the things that we might do together?
In the end, we agreed it just didn’t feel like the right time in that moment. They wanted to get on with the business of thinking about starting their season in 2023.“
As much as some media types believe the CFL and XFL talks were a waste of time for both Leagues, clearly, it was not. The CFL today announced a major partnership with Genius Sports that “Accelerates growth and broadens reach of the CFL in existing and new markets”.
During his time with the NFL, Redbird Capitals Kevin LaForce was behind the NFL’s Genius Sports data deal. Undoubtedly, RedBird Capital had some influence on this deal during their talks with the CFL.
In the end, Ambrosie said, both sides parted as friends.
“We have a League that’s had a long and storied history and a great future in front of us. And we decided to part company as friends. And I think that’s how it unfolded.”
The 108th Grey Cup is this Sunday at 6 pm ET on ESPN 2. It features the Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. If you have never checked out a CFL game, you should. This game will be a good one.
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