‘It’s pie in the sky that you’re going to play 14 games’: Stephen Brunt on plan for 2021 CFL season

Screengrab courtesy: Sportsnet

Longtime Canadian sports journalist Stephen Brunt wants to see CFL football played in 2021, but there’s still lots that needs to happen.

The three-down league has targeted August 5 as a start date for a potential 14-game regular season with the Grey Cup being moved to December 12 in Hamilton.

“You had to expect that they would put a flag in the ground and say: ‘This is the day we’re planning to start, and this is the day the Grey Cup will be played.’ 14 games instead of 18, but a representative season,” Brunt said on Sportsnet 960 radio in Calgary.

“I hope that the plan that Randy Ambrosie laid out happens because if it does, we’ll be in a better place this summer and many things will have been resolved. We’ll all be taking a deep breath and sigh of relief, and living our lives a little bit, but there’s so many hurdles.”

The CFL’s return to play health and safety protocols must be approved by all provincial governments with teams inside its borders and at the federal level as well. And most importantly, a ‘significant’ number of fans must be allowed in stadiums Week 1 in order to proceed with kick-off.

“I think it’s pie in the sky that you’re going to play 14 games, I would rather believe otherwise, but I have a hard time trusting that,” Brunt said. “I am not rooting against this in any way, I’m rooting for it.”

30 percent of Canadians have already received their first vaccine dose, with the government currently expected to meet the 75 percent threshold on schedule for the summer. However, should total vaccinations come in under 55 percent, hospitalizations could spike again in the fall.

“I would love to imagine that there will be fans in stands in August when they kick-off — I hope like heck that’s true,” Brunt said.

“The issue is when you start? And can you start? And do you start lopping games off from the front of the season? And how far are you willing to go with that?”

COVID has created lots of questions for the CFL since the pandemic hit, and to get back on the field this year they’ll all have to be answered in a relatively short timeline.