Bo Levi Mitchell anticipated what was coming.
The Calgary Stampeders franchise quarterback didn’t feel it would be beneficial for the Canadian Football League to go in debt just to play a shortened 2020 season.
“When you started talking about instead of a grant for federal funding, it was going to be a loan, in my mind I thought if we’re having to take a loan out to play a season, it couldn’t be the best scenario for us,” Mitchell said.
After the Canadian federal government denied the league a $30 million interest-free loan, the board of governors decided against accepting money with interest rates attached and owners funding the season. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated the league is absolutely committed to playing next year which is the same approach Mitchell has already adopted.
“It was disappointing, but expected. The way the deadlines were getting passed on it felt like it was going that way. I started to get more of the mindset that 2021 was going to be the better option,” Mitchell said.
The league and CFL Players’ Association are working towards a better future for all, but in the present both parties want the athletes to obtain at least part of their salary. That could come through the COVID-19 emergency benefit programs setup by the feds, particularly the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy.
“To be 100 percent honest, I don’t expect a lot. I hope for a lot of guys’ sake that somebody is compensated. I’m not hurting in the same way other guys are, I feel for those guys. Whether or not guys get compensated, I think that’s up to the league and PA to figure things out,” Mitchell said.
Instead of sniping at each other publicly, the two-time Grey Cup champion and Most Outstanding Player wants to see the league and its athletes work cohesively together. Forming a true partnership could create a culture for cooperation through crisis and cause measurable growth.
“I just want to see the CFL and the PA, us work together in a more unified sense. Not airing out our dirty laundry in the media all the time. We use media in a positive way a lot of the times, but there’s times that it’s used in a negative way by the players, by myself and by the league,” Mitchell said.
“If we can come together and really find a way to make the CFL better, not just for 2021, but for the next 10 years, and the next 50 years for guys that are going to come after us, it’s a good chance to do it. I’m all for it.”
Mitchell isn’t privy to the league’s financial accounting balance sheets, however he does respect the ability of the CFL to stand the test of time and turmoil over the years. It’s the first time since 1919 the Grey Cup won’t be awarded, but that historical fact doesn’t preclude the league from advancing itself with a longer runway for next season.
“It’s one of those times that we’ve gotta band together instead of pointing fingers and looking at each other saying where’s mine?” Mitchell said.
“We have to look at it in the most positive way we can, it gives us a chance to look at ourselves as a league, as teams and find ways to make it better, stronger for everybody.”
Together is better for the CFL and Bo knows it.