For much of its recent existence, the Canadian Football League has made enemies with the water cooler.
While most professional leagues make salary, injury and roster information readily available, the CFL has kept that information close: contract details aren’t released publicly, negotiation lists are kept private and injury updates come courtesy of the media. As a result, much of the typical fan fodder is unavailable, particularly during the long off-season.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, much to their credit, are taking (baby) steps to change that.
In a release sent out Friday, the team announced plans to release a series of videos featuring a “scouting report and detailed information on two to three players” on the team’s negotiation list as described by Tiger-Cats’ front office staff.
The videos will be available on the team’s free all-access fan program, but the first video, featuring general manager Eric Tillman discussing quarterback Johnny Manziel, offensive tackle Jason Weaver and receiver Jay Lee, was also posted to YouTube.
Teams can have up to 45 players on their negotiation list, giving the club exclusive CFL rights to them. Some are American college players — Manziel was added while he was still a star a Texas A&M — while others are NFL players. Current Ticats Larry Dean, Cassius Vaughn and Everett Golson are all examples of players who were on the team’s negotiation list at one time.
It is the first time in league history that a team has voluntarily made negotiation list players public, and the Ticats deserve props for taking the initiative and developing another area of potential interest. Reaction has been almost universally positive, as it should be: Fans now have more information, more things to talk about.
This is, however, is far from full disclosure. Players can be added, removed or traded from the negotiation list at any time, and those transactions take place on a regular basis. The Ticats could make the entire list available, as well as any additions and deletions as they happen, but they likely feel that to do so would put them at a competitive disadvantage. Still, given the general paranoia that surrounds most football teams, even a few names show significant progress.
Transparency on a wider scale would have to be implemented on a league level, and the CFL would appear to be unwilling or unable to make it happen: it’s interesting that this initiative comes from an individual team, going it alone. Hopefully, the Ticats will inspire other clubs to do the same and encourage the league to move toward a more open approach.
In meantime, the more info, the better. For the Ticats, at least, time at the water cooler is time well spent.
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