NFL Lockout Watch, Day 12: CFL, UFL Could Benefit From NFL Work Stoppage
With the uncertainty around the upcoming NFL season, the CFL "should benefit from hopeful rookies looking for work," according to Chris Zelkovich of the TORONTO STAR. Toronto Argonauts GM & coach Jim Barker: "Where we'll see a difference is after the NFL draft. Undrafted players won't be signed and a lot of them normally would try to sign with NFL teams. A borderline player who might have signed with an NFL team might decide to sign here so he can play. There should be a better pool to choose from, no doubt." Some NFL veteran free agents also are "considering heading north," but CFL officials are not expecting that to happen. CFL teams "won't sign players under contract to NFL teams." Also, with a minimum two-year contract, "players now have to spend the full two seasons in the CFL." Hamilton Tiger-Cats GM Bob O'Billovich: "Those kind of guys, you wonder if they know the situation. They might think they can come up here, play part of a season and then go back. They can't." Zelkovich notes when the "window closed for CFL players to exercise their options and sign with NFL teams" during the offseason, "only eight chose to cast their lot south of the border," down from 18 CFL players who signed with NFL teams last year. The "big difference was that NFL teams, fearful of a lost season, weren't offering signing bonuses," which meant CFL players "faced the prospect of a season without pay." Barker: "Without upfront money it was nowhere near as attractive to players" (TORONTO STAR, 3/23).
STRIKE WHILE THE IRON'S HOT: In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski noted the UFL can "provide alternative pro football programming if the networks think they'll be needing it" this fall. UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said that the "money being discussed won't erase what the UFL owes," but "from an exposure standpoint, replacing the NFL on one or more Sundays would be more valuable" than signing former NFL coaches such as new Hartford Colonials coach Jerry Glanville. Huyghue: "I think one of the (potential) revenue streams has to start hitting or it will be difficult to continue. I'd love for them (NFL) to get back ... just not right away" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/22).