The day the Alliance of American Football folded coincided with a crazy day in Canadian Football League front offices and negotiation list transactions.
“The status reports that came out were loaded, every team dropping six and seven players and adding six or seven players. Every team had people down there and you had your list ready that if they folded these are the players that we would have an interest in,” Hamilton Tiger-Cats football operations consultant Jim Barker said on 770 CHQR radio in Calgary.
“As soon as it happened, I mean you had to be fast, because we lost two players to another team that just beat us to the call. It was a crazy day in the CFL and personnel offices across the league. I think everybody was prepared for it, but it was still a crazy day.”
AAF majority owner Tom Dundon decided to suspend football operations after losing $70 million through eight weeks of the league’s regular season. The AAF consisted of eight teams and had a collection of former NFL, CFL and NCAA college players.
“I believe you’ll probably end up seeing maybe 20 players that were in that league. In terms of players wanting to go back to the NFL, they’ll be some that do, but there’s going to be more that don’t,” Barker said.
CFL training camps are scheduled to open on May 19, if a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified by all parties. Agents were lighting up phone lines across Canada and Barker believes the players who were in the AAF can be ready to go.
“These players will be in shape and they’ll be able to come in and compete. When you sign players, players have to get cut, so there’s going to be a lot of players that have been signed that potentially could get let go once these new players decide whether they’re going to come or not,” Barker said.
“I think the CFL is going to benefit greatly from it. There were some really good players in that league that will want to keep playing. Some will wait to see if the NFL happens, if it doesn’t I can always go to the XFL. I believe more will have an interest in coming to Canada.”
Players who have experience playing in the CFL are free agents and can sign anywhere. While coaches and general managers will be trying to convince first time CFL players to come north of the border.
“The dollar doesn’t help us right now. People don’t understand the kind of recruiting that has to happen to get players to choose to come up here, especially for the first time when they’re making close to the minimum and when you convert it into US dollars it’s difficult, especially for people with families,” Barker said.
“The neg list players are players who have never played in the league and every team has 35 of them. Five or six teams made at least five changes on their neg list, meaning took players off and added players that were in the Alliance.”