Henry Burris: CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie ‘dropped the ball’

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Former quarterback Henry Burris saw commissioner Randy Ambrosie fumble the ball for the entire CFL.

During Ambrosie’s presentation to the standing committee on finance, the financial details left a lot to be desired and there was no player representation alongside the commish.

“There’s been a failure to be transparent about those financials. The players are your No. 1 assets,” Burris said on TSN radio 1200 in Ottawa.

“We don’t want to hear from the principal, we want to hear from the people that are in the trenches working their butts off. Those are the people that should have been right there standing side-by-side with the commissioner, but unfortunately to me they dropped the ball on that occasion.”

During Ambrosie’s plea for up to $150 million in coronavirus financial aid he revealed collectively CFL teams lose between $10 and $20 million dollars a seasonAmbrosie asked for $30 million in working capital to maintain operations through the crisis and estimated the league could need as much as an additional $120 million over the next two years — if the most negative scenarios, all of them, come true.

“Just the numbers don’t add up to where if the league can’t get any financial assistance, is there even a chance for them to survive? A lot of people have a misnomer about the league, they think because there are all these successful owners who have been successful in other businesses, that on these teams they believe that the teams have money,” Burris said.

“Well, I can recall three occasions where I’ve had to take pay cuts in order for certain teams and players on those teams to just get paid — guys across the entire league have had to sacrifice — and we’re talking about after 2010 that’s happened. Unfortunately, with the COVID situation and the lack of funding coming into teams, on the fact of there probably won’t be a season, we’re at this point right now.”

If there is no season in 2020, it’s estimated the CFL could lose approximately $100 million. The regular season was scheduled to kick-off on Thursday, June 11, but Ambrosie has stated the schedule won’t start before the beginning of July. And it will be later as various cities have banned large gatherings throughout the summer until September. 

“The inconsistencies throw a damper on what the deeper rooted issue is, it’s about people, it’s about jobs, it’s about saving the economy and it’s about saving lifestyles and things that people look forward to each and every weekend across this country,” Burris said.

“When it comes to professional sports, which professional sports league is Canadian? There is only one, and it’s the Canadian Football League. If we say we’re Canadian there’s one that is truly Canadian, it’s always been the Canadian Football League.”