The good, the bad and the dumb of CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s state of the league address

Photo: Justin Dunk/3DownNation

It’s that time of year again when we learn about how great the CFL is doing from the man tasked with being its figurehead.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie met with the media for his annual state of the league address on Friday morning and in fairness, he offered up a more subdued tone than we’ve seen in the past.

Ambrosie used words like “progress” when describing issues surrounding the league’s biggest markets in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. He often suggested things were trending in the right direction without being as over the top as he’s been in previous years. It was still very positive in nature, which is understandable given his job, but more grounded than we’ve seen in the past.

As usual, the answers generally contained more quantity than quality, but we’ve grown accustomed to sports commissioners using a lot of words to say very little at these types of events in any league.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of Friday’s state of the league address.

The Good

One of the more embarrassing stories in the CFL this season came late in the year when the league’s division all-stars were announced and eventually had to be pulled after obvious errors were found.

It didn’t take long for Ambrosie to be asked about this snafu by Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press.

“We shouldn’t have that mistake happening,” said Ambrosie. “What happened is in the calculations, which were done internally, is they got the weighting wrong.”

According to the commissioner, what happened is that each individual fan vote was accidentally weighted on par with those from the media and coaches. Instead, fan votes were supposed to be given a “relatively small weighting.”

Ambrosie also admitted the league made errors by disregarding the chain of command. He believes if he or someone else had gone over the list of all-stars before they were released, they would have noticed something was amiss. Going forward, he said protocols will be hardened and followed.

While nothing will ever excuse what happened on that day, it was refreshing to see Ambrosie be honest and accountable for what happened. He also said that he wrote to each of the players who had their all-star status revoked to apologize for the mistake.

It would have been easy for Ambrosie to deflect what had happened or blame some kind of glitch, but he didn’t hide behind any of that. It was probably also the most honest, transparent, and interesting answer of the day.

The Bad 

While Ambrosie was seemingly forthright and honest about how the all-star debacle went down, something still doesn’t seem right about this year’s Grey Cup halftime show announcement being delayed until basically the end of the regular season.

“What we learned is that the entertainment industry, like the sports industry, went through a turbulence of the COVID crisis,” he said. “As a result, there was a lot of moving parts in that industry and it was harder to nail things down.

Sorry, this sounds like an excuse to me — and a poor one at that.

There’s been plenty of events over the last year that required the booking of entertainment acts and they all seemed to be able to do it without a problem. Heck, the B.C. Lions had OneRepublic play their season-opener back in June.

Something else happened here. There’s been plenty of speculation but nothing has been confirmed at this point.

A little more clarity surrounding this situation would have been appreciated considering how many fans had concerns regarding the halftime show.

The Dumb

At a staged question-and-answer session, it’s impossible to expect chaos to reign supreme like it can during a football game.

However, we nearly had a fun moment during Ambrosie’s opening remarks, which uses to preface the session and more importantly — to him anyway — get the clock moving on a question period that is generally scheduled to last between 45 and 60 minutes.

He’s basically running on first down.

This year, Ambrosie had a monitor set up at on the stage with notes outlining his topics. Someone was clearly behind the scenes moving the notes like a teleprompter but Ambrosie wasn’t about to keep up at one point.

The commissioner was forced to stop, reference his monitor, and acknowledge that his notes were in the wrong spot.

Luckily — or perhaps unluckily, depending on how you look at it — Ambrosie is not like Ron Burgundy of Anchorman by reading whatever is on his teleprompter without thought. Otherwise, we could have been stuck in an infinite loop of whatever he was talking about at the time or perhaps worse had something appeared that shouldn’t have.

As such, no one was told to go you-know-what themselves.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.