Much like Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, TSN’s Dave Naylor won’t be surprised if the CFL kicks off the 2021 regular season later than its current schedule indicates.
“I won’t be shocked if it’s not a 21-week, 18-game season,” Naylor told TSN 1290 on Wednesday.
“I won’t be shocked if we’re kicking off in late September as opposed to late June. I think that time is going to be our friend here. The more they have of it before the season starts, the better. And if it is going to be a year of losses, I’m sure the owners wouldn’t mind playing a shorter season.”
The CFL has discussed redoing its business model to build better long-term success for itself and its players. Naylor doesn’t see that happening in 2021, but potentially in 2022 and beyond.
“I don’t think of this year as the return to normal, I think of this as the transition back to normal. That’s what 2021 is,” Naylor said.
“The players aren’t gonna get paid what they want, the owners aren’t gonna get as much revenue as they want. The fans may not get a 21-week season, but we are going to transition back to the norm in 2021, I believe.”
In terms of planning for the upcoming season, Naylor acknowledges that the league has essentially one option: hope and pray that the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed widely.
“I know that’s what people wanted but ultimately this is the best course for the Canadian Football League. This league needs that vaccine, this league needs fans in the stands, this league needs its economic model returned,” Naylor said.
“Guys, I’ll be honest, there isn’t really a plan as long as COVID is raging. There’s no real model that makes sense for the Canadian Football League to be playing football in a full-on pandemic other than owners who graciously want to write cheques for fifteen or twenty million dollars a year and that’s not a sustainable model.”
Naylor remains optimistic regarding the 2021 CFL season, citing the recent development and distribution of a vaccine.
“It’s hard to ignore the significance of the vaccine news. I hope that when they tell us, ‘Hey, it may be summer,’ they’re telling us that because they want to be very conservative on expectations and maybe we’ll all get our jabs before we get to summer,” Naylor said.
“I think that would probably be a good idea — to set expectations low and overdeliver. I’m hoping that’s what our government is doing.”