New B.C. Lions coach Rick Campbell joined TSN radio in Vancouver Friday and addressed the tumultuous nature of the COVID stricken CFL with hosts Bob Marjanovich and Jeff Paterson.
The generally optimistic Campbell simply couldn’t dismiss the current hardships facing the league.
“I know it’s very real. The CFL is not a huge money league and will have a harder time withstanding these tough times,” admitted Campbell. “I know for a fact that all of us, the whole CFL family, whether its an owner, a player, a coach, an equipment guy, or fans, we all have to be on the same page to find a solution. Because its very real.”
When asked about the state of player morale, Campbell put on a brave face but acknowledged that a lot of players where hurting financially and that the constant uncertainty of the news cycle were an emotional strain even for him.
When asked about the recent retirement of James Wilder Jr for COVID related reasons, Campbell stood behind players making the right decision for their families.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself. In football, NFL, CFL, wherever it is, its the players who are hurting so badly because they get paid by the game,” said Campbell, whose always emphasized preparing players for life after football. “This whole thing has expedited it for a few guys. He’s got to do what he’s got to do and I hope it works out for him.”
While Campbell’s boss, B.C. Lions owner David Braley, has indicated the league could fold if fans aren’t allowed in stadiums, the coach won’t allow himself to think in apocalyptic terms.
“It scares me because I know its very real, but at the same time the optimist in me knows there is a deep love and appreciation by people for this league,” said Campbell. “I think you’ll see people fight for it and fight for it to keep going.”
Campbell isn’t involved in the logistics of a potential season and says he gets his league info from the media like everyone else, but he is priming himself for any possibility.
“If we do get a greenlight, we are literally going to be ready to hit the ground running because we have to. It’s one of those hurry up and wait type deals, but we will be ready to go.”
As for the future, Campbell has the benefit of deep CFL ties through his legendary father Hugh Campbell in order to give him some perspective.
“I’m literally a CFL lifer, I’ve been around it since I was little. I’ve seen some good times and I’ve seen some very bad times,” he says. “The thing I’m confident about is I know that a lot of people, and the people in charge of this league right now, have a great love of this league. They want it to work. The CFL has a track record of finding it’s way through these hard times.”