Former CFLPA president Mike Morreale: ‘CFL gets in their own way sometimes’

Photo courtesy: Canadian Elite Basketball League

Former CFL Players’ Association president Mike Morreale knows the ins and out of the three-down league.

Morreale was a two-time Grey Cup champion as a Canadian receiver for the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Following his twelve-year playing career, the Hamilton native became the director of marketing for the CFLPA and was elected to the lead role in 2012.

In 2019, Morreale helped launch the Canadian Elite Basketball League as its commissioner. The CEBL played a Summer Series tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic in St. Catharines, Ont. at the Meridian Centre. There were three safe zones for players and staff. Morreale was part of a successful plan to return to play during the coronavirus crisis, while the CFL season was canceled.

“I’m not sure of the decision-making, if they were all in favour or not. I think you would have to be in favour from the get-go to do it,” Morreale told Postmedia reporter Gerry Moddejonge.

“And if you’re not in favour, if you’re still thinking about it, you just can’t pull it off. You just can’t. I think that’s similar to other things that happen in the CFL, they get in their own way sometimes.”

Winnipeg was tentatively chosen as the hub city for a possible shortened three-down season. The decision was pending the final approval of public health and safety officials at the provincial and federal levels. The CFL was trying to play games starting in October, in a single city with players and coaches in a protected “bubble” consisting of hotels, practice fields and a stadium that would host every game.

“Having gone through it and I can appreciate it, I do understand the level of complexities that come with it, especially when guys are crossing the border and the massive roster size, etc. However, I also believed it could be done,” Morreale said.

The CEBL crowned the Edmonton Stingers champions in 2020, while the CFL, which has been around for more than one hundred years longer, won’t present the Grey Cup to any team this year. It will stay sitting in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and wait as political football plays out prior to the potential 2021 season. The owners will be the key decision-makers who draw attention after the board of governors voted against taking the field.

“Can it be fixed? I think so. It takes a complete 100 per cent effort of everybody moving in the same way and that’s always been the issue. My fingers are crossed because we all obviously benefit from it being there, myself included, so let’s see what happens,” Morreale said.

“I think the issue lies in the ones that make lots of money and have made lots of money for a long time doing their job, and I think it’s got to change slightly. But that’s going to be the hardest part, in my opinion.”