John Bowman ‘optimistic’ that upcoming CFL CBA negotiations will go smoothly

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Future Canadian Football Hall of Fame defensive end John Bowman believes that the CFL’s upcoming collective bargaining period will go a lot more smoothly than past negotiations.

“I’m very optimistic. It’s not as contentious as it was in the past, it’s like heads are levelling and business models are changing,” said Bowman via videoconference.

“I’m trying not to get too deep because I don’t want to really offend anybody, but I think the approach to this year’s CBA is gonna be vastly different because there’s different stakeholders involved — especially with this new deal the CFL just signed and everybody wants to get it to a point where the CFL grows instead of always fighting against each other.”

Bowman served as the first vice-president of the CFL Players’ Association (CFLPA) until he resigned to become the new defensive line coach of the B.C. Lions on Monday. He was involved in CBA negotiations in the spring of 2019 during which over 97 percent of players voted in favour of a strike.

No CBA negotiations have taken place yet this off-season with the current deal set to expire in May. Per source, there is currently no timeline for formal negotiations to get underway.

The CFL recently agreed to a sports data and global technology partnership with Genius Sports, which will purportedly expand the league’s audience in the U.S. as well as new international markets. Genius Sports will also help the CFL capitalize on the sports betting market, which is expected to grow following the passing of Bill C-218.

In a November interview with 3DownNation, CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay indicated that union members desire more continuity in their contracts. As such, it’s possible that this winter will yield a solution to the problem of player transiency that was caused by the introduction of one-year contracts in 2014.

Bowman recorded 451 tackles, 134 sacks, 32 forced fumbles, and one interception over 230 regular season games with the Montreal Alouettes (2006-19). He was named an East Division all-star nine times and won two Grey Cups before formally announcing his retirement in 2021.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.