Monday Mailbag: 2021 season, hybrid CFL/XFL rules, competing for players

The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag is designed to answer questions from readers across the country. You can submit a question via email ([email protected]) or direct message on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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We’ve answered a handful of questions below. If your question didn’t get picked, don’t panic — we’ll save it to potentially answer here next week or on the 3DownNation Podcast.

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Why should the CFL support the XFL? It is a threat to steal many good American players that would otherwise play in the CFL. I feel like any kind of merger only has the potential to hurt the CFL.

The only thing the XFL has to offer is American social media followers. Let the XFL do its own thing.

-Matt in Calgary

Thanks for the question, Matt.

The personnel issue would persist even if the leagues remained separate. Many veteran CFL players — Derek Dennis, Armanti Edwards, Jameer Thurman — chose to sign in the XFL in 2020 instead of Canada.

June Jones said the XFL is preferable for American players and he’s right. The XFL’s average salary in 2020 was a reported $55,000 USD, which is more than the CFL’s minimum salary of $65,000 CAD given the exchange rate.

Under its current rules, American players who sign in the CFL need to make a two-year commitment and play eighteen regular season games. In the XFL, players can depart for the NFL after one year and play only ten regular season games.

As for what the XFL can offer the CFL, the answer is money. XFL owners Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital Partners have well over $4 billion USD in assets.

The CFL has to play in 2021 to remain relevant and funding from the XFL could be essential to making that happen. That’s a big reason why the two sides are working towards a partnership.

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Why not play three-down football when teams compete in a Canadian park, and four-down football in an American park? Personnel decisions would become far more strategic!

Such a proposal would not be unlike MLB baseball games where there is a DH in the American League, and no DH in the National League.

Such a scheme would preserve the tenets of the great Canadian game and expose an American audience to the beauty of our Canadian brand of football. Win-win.

-Wayne Stremel

Thanks for the question, Wayne. It’s a great idea on paper but I think it depends on the structure of the partnership.

For one, I can’t see coaches agreeing to simultaneously implement two different systems. Accounting for an extra player and a new set of rules each week would be a logistical nightmare and coaches are creatures of habit — most resist change at all costs.

There’s also the issue of personnel. Many CFL players are undersized compared to the NFL/XFL counterparts because they need to be able to cover such a large field.

215-pound linebackers will struggle playing four downs and 250-pound linebackers will struggle playing three. Rosters won’t be large enough to have some players who start in Canada and others who start in America.

Having two sets of rules works well in baseball because the two leagues rarely play against one another. If that’s the case for a potential CFL-XFL partnership, I think you’re onto something. If they play against each other all the time, I’m not sure that’s sustainable.

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Does any of this XFL stuff impact the 2021 CFL season? If it doesn’t happen I’m gonna be mad.

-Carter

I have good news for you, Carter — it won’t.

Nothing is off the table for 2022, but the CFL’s upcoming season won’t be affected by a potential future partnership with the XFL.

The odds of the 2021 season happening are very strong, though it likely won’t start on time.

Enjoy it. It might be the last “normal” season of CFL football we ever get to watch.

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