The new CFL Players’ Association president is ready to get down to work.
Last week, Saskatchewan Roughriders’ linebacker Solomon Elimimian was voted by the players as their new leader at their meetings in Las Vegas. The election comes with a two-year term for himself and the rest of the executive.
Elimimian’s election made him just the second American-born player to head up the player’s association, the previous being Riders’ legendary running back George Reed (1972-1981, 1986-1993).
“The guys that voted for me in that room were both American and Canadian. I would like to think my number one goal is to look out for all players,” said Elimimian in a conference call on Wednesday.
“As far as me being the second American to be president, that’s a high honour. It’s a great league. I’m fortunate to be in the position I am.”
Even though Elimimian is American, he doesn’t see that affecting the way he plans on going about business.
“I think what brings us together is more important than what divides us. If it’s more money for American and Canadians, everybody wins. The message from our AGM and from our players is we want to move forward together.”
Elimimian is taking over the role one year after the league and the players signed a new three-year collective bargaining agreement.
It’s a deal that brought new money to players entering the league, but also caused a cap crunch this year for a number of players with high-end salaries.
“One thing I’m kind of excited about is the level of dialogue and communication between the league and the (players’ association). There’s never a perfect deal and things might come up,” said Elimimian
“One thing that gives me optimism is the fact that when things do come up, like the T.J. Jones thing, we can resolve it in a fair manner.”
For his part, Elimimian believes their proposal to the Jones situation was fair and protects the current players.
“I’m sure things will come up, but with (commissioner) Randy (Ambrosie) and the league, we can come to a resolve.”
One area where Elimimian feels there’s still plenty of work to be done is player safety.
That issue is back in the spotlight with the developments in the Jonathan Hefney situation.
“That’s why we fought so hard for the extended medical coverage. I feel like we’ve made improvements. Are we there yet? No. We feel like there’s room to grow,” said Elimimian.
“That’s why we work so hard to try to close the gap in terms of coverage. Our hope is there won’t be a situation like Mr. Hefney’s again where he’s not covered and he has to resort to making bad choices.”