Longtime player personnel man Brendan Taman has seen the CFL go through many experiences during parts of five decades working in the league, but never a global pandemic.
Taman is most famously known for putting together Saskatchewan’s 2013 Grey Cup championship team, which won on home soil, as the Roughriders general manager. His first CFL job was with the Riders in 1987 and he’s currently the Alouettes senior player personnel executive, hoping to see Montreal compete in 2020.
“One day you wake up and your thoughts are OK if we go to Winnipeg how many guys do we have at this position or that position? And then a week later you’re going well in 2021 who is going to be left on our team and how many guys do we have to recruit at that position? It’s really strange,” Taman said on the Growing The Game podcast.
“You’re trying to figure out what lane you’re going to drive through and you’re just still in neutral trying to figure out which way the direction of the car is going. You’re planning for both, but at some point here pretty quick we’re going to know which lane we’re going down.”
Winnipeg has tentatively been chosen as the league’s hub city — if a condensed schedule happens this year. The potential target date for kick-off of the possible six-game schedule would be October 1. However, there have already been three deadlines pass — July 23, which was shifted to July 24 and July 31 — without any final decision on whether the CFL will play or not.
“They’re obviously doing everything they can to try to get this going to get on the field. Obviously, there is people in our league that really want to play. I give them credit for doing it, if they can pull this off, that’d be great. If we could find a way to play some football that’d be awesome,” Taman said
“If we get the green light to do this there is going to be a lot of legwork done in the next month to make it get off the ground and run. You’re having training camp and a season — eight teams moving to a city. When I was in Saskatchewan it wasn’t hard, but it was a challenge to go up to Saskatoon for training camp for the logistics that we dealt with, people overlook that a lot.”
The 53-year-old Taman believes a bubble is the best way to approach the season. The NHL has flawlessly executed its return to play plan — there hasn’t been one single positive COVID-19 test result in either Toronto or Edmonton, the league’s two bubble cities. The CFL has been working on its blueprint for potentially conducting and completing a season amid the coronavirus crisis.
“You look at the NHL and the NBA they’ve done a really good job in the situations they’ve been put in to get their product going. Our league’s trying to reflect that in what they’re trying to accomplish. There’s a lot of challenges that come with that,” Taman said.
“It’s going to create a little bit of a headache to try to figure out who is opting out. We’re all paid to win football games, so that’s on the forefront of you mind. How are you going to get your best roster on the field? Well, step one is who is one the roster? Those questions gotta get answered I would think fairly soon.”
From his years in multiple GM roles, Taman has unique insight into what it takes to field a football team, although for the first time he’ll be helping do it with a highly transmittable virus present.