CFL salary cap easily abused - Metro US

CFL salary cap easily abused

The CFL’s new salary-cap system is a joke.

Several clubs are cheating by paying players five-figure “bonuses” under the table.

“They’re not declaring these so-called bonuses as part of the players’ salaries, even though they’re really part of their salaries and should be included in their caps,” a source revealed. “They’re violating the whole spirit of the cap. They’re lying, cheating, exceeding the cap and making a complete mockery of it.”

Saskatchewan general manager Eric Tillman, for one, is complaining about the cheating, but what can the league do without a real commissioner?

•How in the world does Cedric Maxwell still have his job as a basketball analyst?

The other night, while Boston visited Houston, this ex-Celtic took issue with a call by referee Violet Palmer, which in itself was fine. Problem was, Maxwell actually said Palmer “should go back to the kitchen,” and then suggested she “go in there and make some bacon and eggs.”

His station supports him, which leads me to believe its bosses are as brainless as he is.

• Speaking of poor broadcasting, Rogers Sportsnet has been carved up recently by a bevy of media critics who’ve cited the network’s antics, declining professionalism, deteriorating ratings and failure to measure up with TSN.

It’s too bad about what’s happened to Sportsnet, but it’s clear that it’s suffering from the departure years ago of its original production chief, Scott Moore.

Sportsnet’s loss is CBC’s gain now because Moore is about to take charge of CBC Sports.

Morale has been down at CBC Sports for years but Moore has a history of lifting spirits. At Sportsnet, he distinguished himself by treating all employees equally, whether they were in the board room or the mail room. I remember him walking by a young clerk in the newsroom once and stopping in his tracks because the kid wasn’t smiling.

“You okay?” Moore quickly asked. “Can I get you a coffee or something?”

The kid broke into laughter.

Moore’s personality, combined with his business acumen, will revive CBC Sports, guaranteed.

• At 37, ex-CFL quarterback Jeff Garcia is about to strike it rich again as a free agent in the NFL, where he’s the target of interest from several clubs, including the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders. . .And rumblings from Charlotte suggest the Bobcats, NBA dregs, will strongly pursue superstar Vince Carter and coach Larry Brown in the off-season.

• When I was a kid, I’d use the money I earned from odd jobs and summer jobs to buy basketball tickets so I could watch Randy Smith, Bob McAdoo, Ernie Dee, Gar Heard, Bob Kaufmann and all those other memorable Buffalo Braves play games on those few-but-wonderful occasions when they turned Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto into their home court. And then I’d watch their other games on Buffalo television. Didn’t miss many.

I’ve followed the NBA closely for, say, 35 years now and I still watch NBA games every single day. Sometimes, I take in three or four a night. And I attend as many games as I can, as well. I often sit in the stands at the Air Canada Centre, usually with family members, because I’d prefer not to compromise my journalistic integrity by asking for a press pass or a freebie from the Raptors.

I played basketball in high school and in university, my eldest son has played competitively for more than a decade and I enjoy the game thoroughly. In fact, only football ranks ahead of basketball on my personal totem pole of team sports.

So the hundreds of you who emailed me this week (maybe it was thousands of you who emailed me, and I read every one, thank you) suggesting I don’t follow or don’t care for basketball are incorrect.

As are those of you who accused me of being a hockey booster who, as one emailer put it, “doesn’t want to see our beloved Raptors get more attention than the Maple Leafs.” Truth is, I’m far more passionate about baseball than hockey, and I care more for basketball than baseball, so you can toss the hockey-first theory out the window, too.

I struck nerves, I know, in my column here Tuesday, when I felt compelled to report that:

A) Some experts in the United States don’t believe the Raptors can be classified as a good team yet;

B) Many media types in Toronto have been guilty of misleading fans about the Raptors with irresponsible hyperbole;

C) Chuck Swirsky, a Raptors’ employee who serves as the team’s play-by-play announcer, sells the Raptors (and himself) and has managed to brainwash thousands of fans and even media types.

Some of you were angry. A few of you, including some media types, agreed with my views and were quite supportive.

Regardless, I feel the need to elaborate on all three of the above. So here goes:

A) I speak to NBA insiders in the States daily and their consensus, clearly, is that, while the Raptors have improved, they are by no means a good team, unlike what Swirsky et al would like you to believe. These U.S. experts believe the Raptors have potential and can become formidable but have prospered this season from a lot of good breaks, including the fact that they play in one of the worst divisions in NBA history.

B) Look, Chris Bosh gets schooled by players such as Rasheed Wallace and Tim Duncan, Sam Mitchell has had little to do with the Raptors’ ascent this season, Juan Dixon is a no-impact journeyman and there’s no reason to belittle ex-Raptors Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Len Wilkens and Isiah Thomas. If you believe Swirsky et al, however, you’ll be inclined to believe Bosh is an MVP candidate, Mitchell is coach of the year, Dixon is an incredible acquisition and Carter, McGrady, Wilkens and Thomas are evil villains.

C) Swirsky is a terrific, exciting announcer for the Raptors. He’s a homer, too, and no problem there. He’s paid to be that way. The problem is with his second job, as a host of a talk show on The Fan 590. He uses that forum to beat the drum for the Raptors, irresponsibly and subjectively, and that’s wrong. He should either remind Fan listeners regularly that he is a paid employee of the Raptors or he should not talk about the NBA on that show. Heck, Canadian fans are smart enough to draw their own conclusions. They don’t need Swirsky to tell them what to think.

Some of you consider my observations anti-Toronto, and that baffles me. I’m not anti-Toronto, but I’m not pro-Toronto, either. I’m a journalist. I’m objective. I write for Metro Toronto, but there’s also Metro Vancouver, Metro Ottawa, Metro Montreal and, starting very soon, Metro Calgary and Metro Edmonton. I’m not concerned about whether something I report is construed as positive or negative by readers in one market. I care more that it’s newsworthy and interesting for readers in all markets.

Some of you have accused me of being jealous of Swirsky et al because they travel with the Raptors. This is also untrue. I don’t want to travel excessively any more. Did that, been there, and, believe me, I’d rather spend time with my family than sniff jocks.

This Metro gig is terrific. I get paid nicely to produce columns and tell millions of readers across Canada what I know and what I think about sports. I don’t have to kiss anyone’s butt. And I’ve never been told once to refrain from telling it like it is. Unlike Swirsky et al, I can speak freely without fear of reprisal.

I love basketball, but I’d prefer the straight goods in my basketball journalism. If you want gush and exaggeration and worship and salami and cheese (yech), you know who to tune in. But consider the source.


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