An all-star game has been conspicuous by its absence in the CFL over the years — and the league’s new commissioner plans to rectify that.
Mark Cohon told Metro in an interview that proposals to launch an annual all-star event is “percolating around” his Toronto office.
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“The league is in good shape right now and the time is right to raise the profiles of our players,” Cohon said. “An all-star game is a good way of doing that and I definitely see it coming ... Profiling our players and making them identifiable to the fans may be the most important thing we can do.”
Cohon has been the CFL’s commish for about six weeks. So far, so good.
“I’m loving it,” he said. “You see my style. I’m straightforward. I think I can make a difference with my straightforward style.”
As the CFL prepares to kick off its exhibition season this week, the league is facing new threats, from professional soccer and other forms of entertainment. Cohon’s primary objective is to make the CFL matter to as many Canadians as possible, a la the NHL. His other objective, of course, is to raise revenues for the league’s owners.
So, before he completes plans to increase the players’ profiles, he’s begun to market himself. He’s reaching out to media types, trying to explain his methods. He called me, in fact, after reading a recent York Report in which I suggested that he ought to ensure that CFL telecasts be more credible in 2007. Last season, the broadcasts lacked honesty, I thought, and I wrote that viewers can only take so much baloney from TSN and CBC shills who think it’s their duties to paint rosy-yet-misleading pictures about the CFL.
“I agree,” Cohon said, “and I met all the on-air personalities at TSN the other day and told them that, clearly, they’re not a public-relations vehicle for us. They have to broadcast accurately.”
Cohon mentioned that I inaccurately reported that only 1,000 fans tuned into the league’s webcast of the Canadian college draft when it was actually 11,000. He also said he had not heard any complaints from players about the league’s new salary-management system, contrary to what I’d reported. And he said the usual about aspirations to expand into Ottawa and Quebec City.
It’s the players, however, who need to be front and centre, he said.
“We’re in the process of working with the players’ association and club presidents on what players we should be profiling,” Cohon said. “We think the success of our league is predicated on our players.”