Hopefully CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has picked up a few foreign-language swearwords during his international travels for CFL 2.0 this winter.
Monday’s news that the NFL will be incorporating international players onto rosters on a limited basis this season means that the CFL has some competition when it comes to recruiting players on a global scale.
And competing against the NFL is always tough, as the CFL well knows.
The four teams in the AFC East will each have one international player added to their roster for training camp and will be allowed to carry an international player on their practice roster during the season without it counting towards their usual allotment of 10. The idea is to allow those international players to develop on the practice roster and earn their way onto the field .
Meanwhile, the CFL has yet to unveil how exactly it plans to get international players – they are called “global” players in Canada – onto team rosters. Adding them to the PR makes sense but whether a guy will travel from Europe or Mexico or a Scandinavian country for $750 a week plus housing remains to be seen. Practice roster spots in the NFL pay $130,000 USD a year.
While there are only four roster spots available in the NFL this season, the economic disparity between the two leagues means that the Americans will have a significant advantage in recruiting the top talent just like they always do. And young football tykes in Germany don’t dream of playing in the Grey Cup any more than American players do – the NFL’s brand advantage is substantial.
If there is indeed an untapped talent pool in foreign countries, it stands to reason that the NFL will expand their program making things even tougher for CFL teams.
On the plus side, the NFL’s pursuit of international talent and global expansion gives credence to Ambrosie’s CFL 2.0 initiative, though the idea that the CFL would have an advantage over the slower-moving NFL seems to have been thwarted.
The other potential benefit for the CFL would be its possible role as a stepping stone to the NFL for international players, much in the same way it is for Americans. Guys are more likely to come to Canada and play for relative peanuts if they think it could lead to NFL riches down the road: it’s the same recruitment pitch CFL teams have been using on U.S. players for decades. The fact that international players on the NFL PR won’t be eligible to play this season may make it less attractive: players everywhere want a chance to play.
Ambrosie has been touting some big numbers when it comes to international expansion, projecting a TV audience of 100 million for the Grey Cup powered by global viewers. But the NFL already has a worldwide following and also seems keen to expand it.
The word Ambrosie may be looking for is “scheisse.”