Monday Mailbag: bubble season, 2021 start date, CFL-XFL merger

The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag answers questions from readers across the country every week.

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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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As for the 2021 season, it seems like a bubble situation could be the answer. I wonder if a bubble of provinces would be achievable with Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg?

The remaining teams could be located to one of the bubble cities and play their ‘home’ games there. Keeps the travel distances down and gets into provinces which seem to be allowing more flexibility to hosting outdoor large gatherings?

Great draft coverage by 3DownNation.

-Matt in Calgary

Thanks for the kind words, Matt.

I don’t believe the CFL is seriously considering creating a bubble for the 2021 season, though my co-host Justin Dunk suggested the league should do so on the latest episode of the 3DownNation Podcast.

There are exorbitant costs associated with operating a bubble, which I think has scared the league off. A bubble should also grow unnecessary as the season progresses, considering we could be in a post-pandemic world by September or October.

You’re right about one thing, though: a bubble would be the best way to ensure the CFL season starts on time.

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If fans can be expected in September, do you think the CFL owners will start August 5 with no fans or cut the season down to eight to ten games? My frustrations are growing.

Thanks,

-Giasone Italiano

Thanks for the question, Giasone. You’re not the only one growing frustrated.

The CFL has already said they will not play without fans in the stands. Ontario’s cancellation of all major outdoor events until September 6 should make it impossible for Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa to sell tickets for the month of August.

The good news is that some provinces out west are talking about filling stadiums by late summer. The CFL is currently working on a new fourteen-game schedule and I expect we’ll see games exclusively held out west to kick it off, providing a safety net against restrictions out east.

Is it still possible that the league will only end up playing an eight to ten-game schedule as you suggest? Absolutely. Unless it’s willing to play games without fans in the stands — which, as of now, it’s not — the CFL will be forced to continue navigating the ever-changing health protocols across six different provinces.

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I wonder if we have these CFL-XFL talks all wrong. What if they’re talking less about a merger, and more about a developmental league-style agreement?

This is just me spitballing, but say the XFL is looking at its last two failures and the AAF and thinking, “Look, this is never going to work if we just sign NFL castoffs and college dropouts. We need actual talent throughout our rosters and a development pipeline if we’re going to pull this off.”

So into the picture comes the CFL, who already have the market largely cornered on Canadian talent, lots of players just a cut below NFL quality, and have spent the last few years developing relationships with other leagues worldwide. Thoughts?

-Brian Pike

Thanks for the question, Brian.

I’m sure the XFL would love to poach some of the CFL’s top talent — especially at the quarterback position — but they could do so without a merger. All they’d have to do is offer a handful of exorbitant contracts.

The CFL and XFL are talking about a full-blown merger. For better or worse, you can take that to the bank.

The problem with spring football in the United States has never been a lack of talent — it’s getting American fans to care about brand new franchises when most have lifelong allegiances to teams in the NFL and NCAA.

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