The walk in the park as CFL commissioner is over for Mark Cohon. After an easy-breezy first season, Cohon faces a series of crises that are endangering his league’s credibility and, in reality, its very existence.
• The Buffalo Bills’ decision to play eight games (three exhibition) at the Rogers Centre over the next five years. It’s perceived by many within professional football — including B.C. Lions president Bob Ackles — as the start of an NFL plan to ultimately place the team permanently in Toronto. And, if that happens, Ackles et al figure it’s game over for the CFL.
• The CFL’s outstanding player from last season, Saskatchewan quarterback Kerry Joseph, is trying out with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, unhappy with the Roughriders’ refusal to pay him what he considers a fair salary. This, only a few weeks after the CFL’s soon-to-be-named top coach of 2007, Kent Austin, abandoned the Riders to become offensive co-ordinator at the University of Mississippi.
• A new league, the AAFL, is launching and making it difficult for the CFL to sign the calibre of talent they’re used to. Players such as former University of Florida QB Chris Leak are rejecting the CFL to join the AAFL. And players such as Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Tay Cody are jumping from the CFL to the AAFL — even while under contract to the CFL.
• The Ticats, for rejecting their chance to be part of the Bills’ strategy to rip off Southern Ontarians. (The Bills want $4,000 up front for an average pair of tickets for the aforementioned eight games in Toronto.)
• Canadian basketball star Steve Nash, for investing in the fledgling Women’s Professional Soccer League.
• Moi (hey, if I don’t congratulate myself, who will?), for suggesting here Dec. 18 that the Pats would go 18-0 but would run out of gas and lose in the Super Bowl.
• Canadian sports channels are planning to super-size their coverage of the NHL’s trade-deadline day (Feb. 21) and one will use John Ferguson Jr., who promises to open up on the air considerably more than he did when he was the tight-lipped general manager of the Maple Leafs … The New York Mets have given Johan Santana a seven-year deal worth $150.75-million US, a record for a pitcher on a long-term contract … And, although he’s 43, weak-kneed and under indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice, Barry Bonds is seeking an MLB team for which to play in 2008. He might strike out.