There is plenty to talk about when it comes to the upcoming 2021 CFL season, but there was only one thing on Jason Gregor’s mind when he joined The Rod Pedersen Show on Thursday.
“Hopefully the EE actually have a team name by then,” the popular TSN radio host said, shaking his head. “How long can you drag out a team name? I mean, my goodness, give me a break!”
The Edmonton Football Team formally began changing its name late last summer, bowing to immense pressure from sponsors and the public following years of controversy. Since then, the team received 2,047 formal name submissions during an open call in November and recently narrowed the list down to seven candidates.
Nearly 40,000 fans participated in ranking those choices for the name expected to be revealed in mid-April, but Gregor feels it was an unnecessary step.
“We all know the Eclipse sucks. We know the Evergreens is terrible. Just get down to the Elkhounds or the Elk, move on and let’s go,” Gregor ranted.
“That’s my biggest beef here is that the EE has been dragging out this name for I don’t know how long and it’s ridiculous. It looks minor league to me. Just settle with a name and let’s move on.”
The change from the franchise’s previous nickname of ‘Eskimos’ was prompted by more than a decade of calls from Inuit leaders to change the moniker, which is now considered derogatory due to its ties to centuries of colonial violence.
Gregor can appreciate that sentiment, but was never a fierce advocate for the old name to begin with.
“That’s obviously a tough subject. You do a lot of research and some people are offended by it, so I can respect that. But I also see some Inuit people who aren’t offended by it,” he said.
“I’ll be honest, I’m kind off past the point of caring if they’re not going to be called the ‘Eskimos.’ I was never like, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s the name.’ I mean, it’s a name. People didn’t like the Redblacks when they first came out, and now they think the Redblacks are alright. They don’t mind it. I don’t get too hung up on a name so much but I get hung up on the process of it.”
Polls show the majority of CFL fans, overwhelmingly men over the age of 55, opposed the name change in the first place, though few of those vocal opponents have any ties to Canada’s Inuit population.
Gregor doesn’t consider himself one of those people living in the past, but he does have some criticisms.
“They made a decision, they changed it. I don’t have to agree with it all the time, but I can live with it. I can respect how some people feel that maybe it’s offensive to them,” Gregor explained.
“I wish we would have had more conversations about why is it offensive. Because if it offends 10 percent of people, do we have to change for them? That’s probably a debate for another show.”
While he isn’t fully convinced of the derogatory nature of the old name, there is one thing Jason Gregor finds deeply offensive.
“The thing that actually offends me more is that that was over six months ago! What are you doing?” he said incredulously. “Here we are, it’s the end of February and you still don’t have your name. Just come up with a moniker, have courage and conviction and move forward with it.”
The whole situation may leave Gregor red in the face, but there is one name on the list he would be able to get behind.
“I mean Elkhounds is probably the best name, if we’re being realistic,” Gregor said. “It’s unique, you can have a great mascot with it, plus no one else has it.”
Just like an Elkhound, don’t expect Jason Gregor to stop barking until the choice is made.