During collective bargaining negotiations between the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association, the Canadian ratio is always part of the discussion.
The new agreement has changed the number of required Canadian starters from seven this season to eight for 2023 with a key caveat — one can be a nationalized American. A nationalized American is defined as any player who has played a minimum of three seasons with a single team or five years total in the league.
Two additional nationalized Americans will be able to play up to 49 percent of snaps in place of Canadian starters elsewhere provided they are on opposite sides of the ball.
Given that American players are now eligible to be counted as Canadians based on experience, does that mean they would be eligible for the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award? CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie isn’t sure.
On a recent trip to Calgary for the season opener, Ambrosie was asked and responded: “I don’t think we’ve addressed that question, and it’s a good one. I’ll have to take that back to my colleagues.”
“We will have to see who is eligible for what.”
Without specifically addressing the gap between salaries for Canadian players and Americans, Ambrosie suggested that this potential status could be a benefit for American players.
“It was an acknowledgement that we need to find more ways to create roster stability. The players that come to our cities, they play here, they raise their families here, they are part of the community and out doing community service work,” Ambrosie said.
“We wanted to reward them for their loyalty and we want to create another way to attract them to stay on our roster. This was something our fans told us was a huge priority for them, as we have too much turnover on our roster.”
Given the roster status of nationalized American being a ratio counter, a player could try to force the issue of eligibility as a further roster bonus in the future.
While this writer expects the league would maintain the status quo and make Canadian citizenship the requirement to be eligible for the award, the uncertainty and inability to answer which players can win it should be distressing to Canadian players that are already seeing their roles reduced.