Every since the leadership of both the CFL and XFL announced plans to work together to identify opportunities for innovating and growing the game of football, football fans have been divided into factions.
When star Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell backed the idea of a merger between the two leagues earlier this week, it prompted reactions from both sides.
XFL fans trumpeted a victory, while CFL patriots bemoaned a turncoat in their midst, but TSN colour commentator Glen Suitor believes a more balanced approach is necessary.
“I’m reading between the lines a little bit here, but he’s looking at it as anytime there’s a chance to improve the business model it should be explored and I feel the same way. That’s why I’ve said many times, I’m keeping an open mind on all of this until we get the details,” Suitor told Derek Taylor during his regular appearance on the SportsCage Thursday.
“Now when the details come out, that may change how everyone feels — it certainly may change how I feel — but until then I’m going to keep an open mind.”
In his comments, Mitchell stated he was against significant changes to the Canadian game, though some concessions would be required. However, he believes a merger would be “an absolutely phenomenal thing” for the growth of the game, noting the NFL emerged from an amalgamation of two different entity.
Suitor thinks there is plenty worth exploring, but encourages players like Mitchell to consider the other potential ramifications.
“If all players are looking at this as a sort of a blanket, phenomenal direction to go in, well, have they looked at the pay structure that the XFL went with before they folded? I’d have to do more research, so I don’t want to speak out of turn here, but I think they were averaging about $50 grand a player across the board,” Suitor cautioned.
“Non-negotiable, this is a centrally run league. You could have three 1000-yard seasons as a receiver and not necessarily change your contract at all.”
Those are concerns CFLPA president Solomon Elimimian discussed with Suitor in a recent conversation, not the players’ association remains focused on a return to the field in 2021 and has not been made privy to much of the XFL discussions.
“There is a possibility of no union. There’s a lot of huge question marks that have to be explored before you can say it would be phenomenal, so let’s dive into that,” Suitor continued.
The original XFL lasted one full season in 2001 and lasted part of just one season before the COVID-19 pandemic put their 2020 season on hold, which led to Vince McMahon filing for bankruptcy and selling the entity. Meanwhile, Grey Cup has been awarded for over 100 years in Canada
Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital were selected as the winning bidders last August for all of the assets of Alpha Entertainment LLC, the parent company of the XFL. It cost $15 million and the goal is to make the XFL a stable league in the future, which could be aided by an agreement with the CFL.
The Rock has stated he’s excited for the ‘unique opportunity’ the CFL and XFL ‘can potentially create together,’ but that creation may come at the cost of Canadian rules and content, two things Suitor holds dear to his heart.
Still, he doesn’t believe Mitchell and other XFL believers are his opponent on those issues.
“He’s not the enemy here. I think he was thinking out loud on a lot of it,” Suitor emphasized.
“Again, let’s keep an open mind. Let’s listen to what’s said as far as details coming out, but in the meantime separate the speculation and opinion from what’s actually being said by those that are running the league, the governors and the commissioner.”