“Mid-range players” not stars, most likely to opt out if CFL season played: report

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Following the decision by reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player Brandon Banks to opt out of any potential 2020 season, all reports seem to indicate that several other players will follow the electric receiver’s lead.

CFL insider Dave Naylor joined Michael Landsberg and Carlo Colaiacovo on TSN 1050 in Toronto on Thursday morning to discuss just such a possibility. He told listeners that several other players are expected to stay home, but Banks could be an outlier in terms of his status.

“It’s less the stars of the league that aren’t going to play and more that mid-range player,” Naylor said. “Brandon Banks, his salary is around $200,000, if he wanted to show up he can make $65,000 for three months. In real world money, that isn’t too bad.”

While acceptable pay will lure star players, the league’s bottom tier will likely show up for different reasons.

“For young guys, I talked to a player last week who said ‘I’m 24, I’m single, I love football, and I’ve got nothing better to do. I’ll play,” Naylor told listeners.

The group of players in between are where the decision gets more complicated.

“It’s some of those guys in between, whose normal salaries might be between $80,000-$100,000, and now they have to decide if it’s worth doing it for $30,000. They might have families as well, because they aren’t kids anymore,” Naylor said.

Many players’ decisions will be influenced by the terms agreed upon in a new collective bargaining agreement and the type of guarantees they can expect from the league.

“A lot of players have got jobs or are in the process of getting jobs, not everyone is hanging their future on whether there will be a CFL season, a lot of guys are hedging or moving into contingency plans,” Naylor explained.

“One of the things that is being sorted out by the league and the players is what sort of guarantees are the players going to get. If you quit your job in Georgia and come to the CFL hub in Winnipeg and three weeks into it there is an outbreak or a spike in Canada and the whole thing has to be taken down, ensuring that they aren’t going to be sent home with nothing.”

Many questions remain to be answered for the league to even get to a point where players are forced to make a decision on 2020. Confusion in regards to testing protocols for entering the Winnipeg “bubble” has led to questions in regards to its efficacy. The structure of the hub model will be a subject of close public examination.

“You are talking about a scaled back version. Those type of questions go to the whole concept of a bubble,” admitted Naylor.

“We know the NBA’s bubble costs $150 million, a million dollars a day to run. We know the CFL isn’t running one of those. So things that are considered essential for the standards of bubbles in the NHL or NBA aren’t going to be done to the same degree in the CFL.”

There also remains the question of federal funding, not expected to be provided by the Heritage Ministry, but still could come in the form of existing federal programs or a loan.

“I don’t think the CFL is going to play and I say that with all due respect to some people who are working very hard to make it happen,” Naylor said frankly.

“I think ultimately it’s going to be beyond their control, either on the federal side or with the players.”