The Spring League – where Johnny Manziel famously made his return to football after busting out of the NFL – believes a partnership with the CFL could benefit both amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
TSL began play in 2017 and its vision was to give players an opportunity to be seen against pro calibre talent and potentially earn a contract in the CFL or NFL. All teams utilize one central location, for both practices and games. The league’s unique format affords scouts and front office personnel an opportunity to evaluate players in a real football setting.
“The Spring League has been here since 2017 and many of our players have made it on to CFL teams and in some instances been very productive,” chief executive officer Brian Woods told The Canadian Press.
“It’s been quite valuable to NFL teams, and even CFL teams for that matter. It’s absolutely of great importance to us that the CFL stays in operation.”
Along with Manziel, Argos’ quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Redblacks’ receiver Jalen Saunders, Alouettes’ defensive back Tyquwan Glass and former Stampeders’ cover man DeShaun Amos are just a handful of the notable TSL to CFL success stories.
The Spring League consists of four teams with each team playing in two games over the course of a three-week season. Its 2020 season took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. TSL also hosts showcases in the summer and fall to provide additional opportunities for players to be evaluated.
“It’s not many games but it’s enough for players to get current film. Most NFL teams, even CFL teams, that’s all they’re looking for, they want to see players in two games to kind of really evaluate them and get a good feel for it,” Woods said.
“We’ve had to find a model that would work financially so we could sustain ourselves. We reached profitability last year and expect to have another profitable year.”
Woods has offered the option for CFL teams to practise and play against TSL squads. Dan Ralph reports the TSL CEO has exchanged emails with commissioner Randy Ambrosie. The Spring League would be willing to play by Canadian rules and on the size of field used north of the border.
“I believe it’s doable and I think there could be a monetary play here with TSN potentially even if it’s a limited number of games. And this isn’t foreign because there was a time when CFL teams operated in the U.S.,” Woods said.
“I think Canada needs football. I think it’s important the CFL does something this year and is visible to some extent. Otherwise I fear for what could be ahead or what might not be ahead.”