The Toronto Argonauts may be doing a little pre-spring cleaning after announcing they had released quarterbacks Kerry Joseph, Cody Pickett and LB Zeke Moreno on Sunday. Generally teams don’t release their two best QB’s unless they have a plan in place, and according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani on Twitter, they may just be finalizing the fine print on such a plan, and it may involve the BC Lions.
Madani suggested today that the Argos and Lions are working on a deal that would see Jarious Jackson heading to the Argos. He also suggested that the Lions might be close to signing LB Barrin Simpson, and both DE Riall Johnson (Montreal) and Teyo Johnson (Calgary).
“A lot of noise BC + Tor working to send Argos J. Jackson. Braley optics factor an issue. Murmurs Barrin S., Rial+Teyo Johnson becoming Lions”
Madani’s fellow columnist Perry Lefko seems to back up the speculation in this article today. While the dealing of Jackson makes sense in the fact that the Lions will have to cut lose a QB to re-sign Casey Printers to a starter’s contract, it is surprising it’s Jackson and not Buck Pierce being dangled if that’s the case. While Pierce is younger and perhaps a more complete QB when healthy, the problem lies in the fact he can’t stay off the injured list. Jackson is coming off a rotator cuff injury, while Pierce has had both shoulder and concussion issues. Both are good coming off the bench in games, so you would think the Lions would take less risk by unloading Pierce.
It’s been less than a month since David Braley purchased the Toronto Argonauts, and the fact he may be bringing a quarterback from his other club will be looked at closely by several parties. BC fans will be wanting to make sure the Lions receive decent compensation in return for a quality QB. Argos fans will be watching to see what the Lions get in return, and teams looking for QB’s will be watching to see if the Argos got their new starting QB for fair market value.
At the time that Braley bought the Argos, both he and the league said all the right things about maintaining the integrity of the game. I believe them both when they say that, but it doesn’t mean all the parties involved won’t be looking at any deals between the two clubs. Stay tuned!
Well it’s official. The BC Lions and the Toronto Argonauts are now owned by David Braley. In a statement issued by the league, commissioner Mark Cohon tries to ease concerns about an owner owning two CFL franchises.
“Even now, when Canada is slowly emerging from a deep recession, and the vast majority of businesses and entrepreneurs are solidifying their holdings as opposed to pursuing new ventures, we sought and received strong expressions of interest in the Argonauts from a number of other sources,” Cohon said.
“But in the end, this was the best option for the future of the Argonauts and the health of the Canadian Football League. As stewards of our league, and all the CFL has come to mean to so many Canadians, our Board of Governors took into account three important factors,” he said.
“The first was the quality of ownership in our league. We are unanimous in the belief we would much rather have an exemplary person with considerable financial resources and an undeniable love for our league sit atop two franchises than have any one of our franchises owned by someone of uncertain means or questionable character, or someone lacking in a real, long term commitment to what’s best for the CFL and its fans,” Cohon said.
“The second factor was the integrity of our game. We understand there are those who will now view every interaction between the Lions and the Argos with extreme scrutiny. I can assure them their vigilance will be nothing compared to the way I and my colleagues in the league office will monitor every transaction and every game involving these two teams, reserving every step of the way our right to veto any trade or punish any initiative that fails to clearly meet the highest standards of competitiveness,” he said.
“But we are confident moving forward most of all because of the third factor we took into account and that is the character of Mr. Braley himself. No one in today’s Canadian Football League, and perhaps no one in the history of the CFL, has devoted more of his time, energy and resources to our league than Mr. Braley. And I believe it is equally fair to say that few people have demonstrated a deeper commitment to the integrity of the game and the league than Mr. Braley, and the football people he has chosen to surround himself with over the years, including current Lions Head Coach and General Manager Wally Buono and the late Bobby Ackles, who served as the Lions President. No one wants to win more than Mr. Braley and his personnel but they strive to win fairly and squarely, in the best tradition of our league.”
As a fan of the BC Lions, I am hoping everything the commissioner says is true. I am a huge David Braley fan, and yes I think he’ll do everything above board and make sure there are no conflicts. But what happens if a Lion is a free agent and ends up in Toronto, or vice-versa? What happens if Wally Buono isn’t extended in BC, then magically appears in the Hog Town? There will be a lot of question thrown out there if those situations start to occur. Frankly I don’t think the league needs any of that scrutiny either. Perception can be very damaging from a marketing standpoint.
David Braley saved the BC Lions, and I hope he has success in doing the same in Toronto, but as a fan I want an owner who is 100% committed to the BC Lions. It’s for that reason, I now hope that local ownership can be found for the Lions. The team is prosperous, and in two years will have a fancy new retractable roof to market. They are competitive each year, and have stable football people in place. These are all attractive features for a potential buyer.
Congratulations to Mr. Braley, and to the fans of the Argos, you’ve got a good man in charge. But like the commissioner, Lions fans will be watching every move from here on out with keen interest.
What is your opinion on David Braley owning two CFL teams? We’d like to hear from you, so leave a comment below.
CKNW 980 is reporting that BC Lions owner David Braley may become the owner of the Toronto Argonauts by early next week:
Quoting CKNW: CFL sources tell CKNW that the deal current Argo owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski were working on to bring a new partner into the fold is falling apart, and may be officially dead by as soon as Friday.
If a new partner is not in play for the Argo owners, Braley may be forced to deal with a franchise dropped on his doorstep as soon as this weekend.
One person or corporation can own interest in two teams in the CFL, as has been the case in Major League Soccer and the American Hockey League. If Braley were to own both teams, he would not be interested in selling the Lions. He is however, interested in building up the Argos franchise for a new buyer. The future of general manger Adam Rita remains uncertain. Rita may be retained in a player personnel capacity with the club, but not as GM.
Stay tuned for further developments.
Will the Economic Downturn Pinch The CFL at the Turnstiles in 2009?
As the CFL get’s under way this month, it is remarkable to think back on what a different economic world we now see as compared to when the 2008 Grey Cup was awarded.
Since November 2008, we have been bombarded by economic changes, none of them positive. The economy has continued to shed jobs, leaving industries like BC’s forest industry and Ontario’s auto sector in ruins. Consumer confidence, so robust just a year ago, has taken a beating. Recovery is coming, say economists, but it will be a slow climb back.
This is an ominous development for the CFL, especially for a League that is still heavily gate driven. To date, though, neither team executives or sports media have really taken on the question of how this might affect League attendance in 2009.
Like restaurant meals and vacations (two other sectors that have taken a beating recently as well) sports tickets are the ultimate discretionary spending item. Just ask Major League Baseball, who has seen their attendance dip 10% in 2009, and Major League Soccer, who have also seen attendance drop sharply. In the minor leagues of baseball, many teams didn’t even make it to the field for 2009, as a number of clubs folded up shop early in the year.
Even in a downturn, consumers will still buy tickets that represent good value to them. 2010 Winter Olympic tickets were scooped up quickly, obscure events and all. With its loyal fan base, the NHL survived the 2008-09 season remarkably unscathed. How will the CFL fare this year?
As a whole, the CFL is better positioned to survive this downtown than the last one in the early 1990s. Ownership across the league is more stable, marketing has improved, and revenue streams have been diversified. Still, there are potential trouble spots, most notably Hamilton. A lengthy streak of losing seasons, combined with a badly faltering local economy, could spell trouble for Steeltown attendance. Around the lake in Toronto, the Argos are facing their usual fight for fan interest in the most competitive sports market in Canada. A tough Southern Ontario economy hurts the Argos in 2009 as well.
Finally, what about the Lions? Again, the Lions are light years ahead of where they were in the early 90s, in the depths of Murray Pezim’s reign of error as owner. David Braley, the late Bob Ackles and Wally Buono have made the Lions a model organization, but even at that season ticket sales are slightly behind those of 2008. How will single game sales go, especially if the club struggles on the field somewhat?
After years of growth and positive stories, the CFL may have to retrench slightly in 2009, and perhaps into 2010 as well. It just wouldn’t be the CFL we love if we didn’t have a challenge to tackle.