Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Jeremy O’Day wants to see the green and white playing football in 2021.
The last time the Riders were on the field was the West Final at Mosaic Stadium, a loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ended their 2019 campaign. After the cancellation of the 2020 season, training camps for this year are currently scheduled to open in May.
“In football ops, we have our start to training camp, that’s the date that we’ve been told. We’re going to operate as if we’re starting on time until we’re told we’re not. We’re no different than the players where we’re waiting and anticipating whether we’ll start on time,” O’Day said on The SportsCage.
“Just like the players, and the coaches, and all of our staff, everyone is anxious to know that, but I think it’s important that we all understand there’s a lot at play for the league and there’s big decisions to be made, and I’m sure they’re going to do that at the right time.”
The CFL unveiled its 2021 schedule last November with the pre-season scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 23, while the regular season is slated to get underway on Thursday, June 10, and the Grey Cup in Hamilton on Sunday, November 21.
“We’re just excited about having a season. We feel very optimistic that we’re going to have one, whether that starts on time, that’s just something we’ll have to deal with when we know more,” O’Day said.
“With the environment that we’re dealing with, the pandemic and amount of cases, and optimism of the vaccinations going out, it’s a pretty fluid situation.”
The league and union began meetings during the second week of February with a focus on playing football this year. The two sides have submitted return to play health and safety plans to various levels of government in Canada.
“When the powers that be feel it’s healthy and safe for our players and our staff to do so, we’ve presented the health system with our return to play health and safety plan, that is going to ensure that we’re being as safe as possible,” O’Day said.
“That’s something that we’re working through internally now, preparing to implement that plan, the changes we’re going to have to make internally to execute the health and safety plan. Hopefully once it gets approved, whenever it’s safe to do so, I feel very comfortable about the precautions that will be taken to make sure everyone is safe.”
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has promised plenty of football during the current year, but there has been no commitment as to when the league will kick-off, which has created unprecedented uncertainty.
“Everyone can use some football and I think it would be great if we can get back on the field for all the fans that are missing it,” O’Day said, “it’s a big part of a lot of people’s lives.”