Bombers’ linebacker Adam Bighill: ‘The commissioner, in my view, is not the unifying force’

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill doesn’t believe commissioner Randy Ambrosie has brought the Canadian Football League together as its leader.

League employees and players are losing faith in Ambrosie’s leadership.

“I just don’t see the unity through all of the different nine teams in the league. The commissioner, in my view, is not the unifying force between all of them as much as you might see in other leagues. That could harmonize much better,” Bighill told Sportsnet 650 radio in Vancouver.

When Ambrosie was hired in July 2017, he stated his goal was to double the CFL’s revenues. The 57-year-old former business man brought experience from HSBC Securities, AGF Management, chief operating officer of Accretive 360 Inc., and held the same role with MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier investment firm. Although, it hasn’t led to large increases of revenues for the league.

“We look at technology today and all the different streaming platforms, all the different ways revenue is collected, subscriptions, you’re looking at all these kinds of things. And you just want to make sure you’re trying to maximize everything you can when it comes to a fan being able to engage at a game, to a fan being able to engage in their living room,” Bighill said.

“There needs to be a connection there. We want, and need, to be able to get younger generations to be bought in and to be able to show that kind of support with their dollars. For me that always started when I was a kid looking up to superstars, looking up to heroes, looking up to role models that are achieving great things.”

Bighill wants the CFL to build personas and figures that can be idols for children, capture their imagination and have them follow the league for a lifetime. The 31-year-old knows it will take the players, teams and CFL office doing it together in order to maximize the potential earnings across Canada.

“It comes down to engagement and finding the right opportunities for revenues. It’s complicated but at the same time there’s some philosophical things we need to agree on and be able to accomplish to be able to start moving more in the right direction,” Bighill said.

On Thursday, June 11, CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay called out commissioner Randy Ambrosie for not receiving concrete ideas regarding a collective agreement or about opportunities to get on the field this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bighill shares the frustration of the union membership.

“Obviously, we all want answers. We would have hoped we’d have answers by now, but we do have to be realistic and understand that some stuff we just can’t know until time takes its course. With that said, we would have expected better communication through the CFL with the CFLPA up to this point,” Bighill said.

“We haven’t gotten it, that has been a little bit frustrating — we’re all in this as one. We would have expected communication to be clearer and frequent, and it’s starting to move in the right direction, but that was after a little bit of backlash from the government. Asking where are the players? When it comes to talking about some help financially from the government.”

The CFL and CFLPA have started collective bargaining negotiations on a COVID-19 recovery plan that will deal with 2021 and beyond while also addressing CBA amendments that may be required should there be a shortened season in 2020. The union sent a survey to its players which included questions about salary expectations. 

“There’s guys across the spectrum of what they need to be able to do to provide for their families and for themselves. Not working is not good for any of us, and not getting paid is not good for any of us. We’re just hoping we can create some agreement to get back on the field and find a solution that works for everybody,” Bighill said.

Even though the CFL season has been delayed, Bighill is still working. He’s a financial advisor for Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. It’s one of Canada’s fastest-growing independent investment companies. Should the CFL not play games this year, Bighill would be able to provide for his family, but other players might be in a different situation.

“It does open up the eyes to guys in the league to understand that there has got to be life after football. You have to be working on something that you’re passionate about because football won’t last forever,” Bighill said.

“You really can take the opportunity to build yourself a foundation business and education-wise while playing football. You can be doing that throughout your career, that way you’re ready when football is ready to be moved on.”