Former CFL standout strong-side linebacker and players’ association presidential candidate Keon Raymond believes the three-down league needs to focus on advancement.
“The CFL needs to understand that they’re always banking on a new league failing. And I’m going to tell you, one day somebody is going to get it right,” Raymond said on The Rod Pedersen Show.
“For this to be one of the longest standing league’s, we can’t wait for somebody to get it right to take talent away from the CFL and for players to go down and play in these different leagues.”
The XFL is the latest pro football league to pose a potential threat to the CFL. The Alliance of American Football didn’t even make it through an entire season before ceasing operations. However, the 37-year-old Raymond wants to innovate, stay ahead and beat the competition.
“If we’re trying to setup and play the exact same game that we’ve always played, I think we’re going to lose. That’s the wrong mantra to take,” Raymond said.
“I don’t want to talk bad about the guys that are on the board, but there needs to be a little bit more grit in there. I think I’ll bring a bit of that grit to the table when it’s time to negotiate.”
There have been recognizable CFL names moving from Canada to the United States such as receiver S.J. Green, former Most Outstanding Offensive lineman Derek Dennis and veteran pro pass catcher Armanti Edwards, all signing XFL contracts.
“There’s no way S.J. Green should ever have left the CFL ranks. That’s like Randy Moss going down and leaving the NFL,” Raymond said.
“And when you allow guys like that — superstars in our league to leave — that’s a big problem. We need to find a way to keep our players here and continue to grow the league in that aspect.”
Raymond understands players want to seek jobs in the National Football League because it’s a completely different financial stratosphere. Although, he would like to have the CFL evolve to the point where players don’t need to leave.
“There’s a grievance going on right now with Nate Holley. He’s a young star in the CFL and he’s had some NFL looks and wants to go down. It’s such a tight, fickle position to be in. You want guys to have an opportunity, especially if somebody is going to give you $400,000, which is life-changing,” Raymond said.
“You open the door for guys who want to come up and play in the CFL knowing that they can get an opportunity to go in the NFL. I hate to see the league is a stepping stone to get to where you want to be, but until the CFL can get to a point where you can pay guys $1.2 or $3 million dollars in a contract, we’ll continue to see that.”