This has been a quiet but very rough off-season for the CFL. The league continues to hunt for a commissioner but no candidate is dazzling the powers-that-be. And so the conjecture now is that the league may operate in 2007 without a commish.
Meanwhile, league executives are becoming more and more frustrated in their efforts to persuade the Arena Football League to refrain from signing players who are under CFL contracts. The matter could wind up in the courts, which, to put it mildly, would be awfully messy.
And then there’s the issue of CFLers engaging in bizarre extra-curricular activities that are endangering their careers, and maybe even their lives.
You’ll find this nonsense specifically in Edmonton, where certain members of the Eskimos have been participating in those absurd ultimate-fighting matches.
One of them, 31-year-old fullback Mike Maurer, was knocked out early in a Saturday mismatch against a thug named Roger Hollett of Halifax. The Edmonton Journal’s Vicki Hall witnessed the fiasco and wrote that Maurer “has a fuzzy recollection of taking a kick to the head, followed by a vicious punch ... The next thing Maurer remembers is standing up and wobbling to his corner, thinking it was the end of the first round. In reality, the fight ended in just 36 seconds. A disturbed hush fell over the crowd of 2,500 as doctors swarmed around the fallen football player, who was out cold for at least five seconds.”
The Eskimos say they can’t do anything to prevent their players from being punching bags like this. But the CFL itself ought to demonstrate some leadership and intervene. Problem is, it doesn’t even have an authentic leader.
• New Blue Jays slugger Frank Thomas joined NBA luminary Charles Barkley in celebrating at a Super Bowl after-party in Las Vegas on Sunday. Barkley is telling folks he won $700,000 US on the weekend in blackjack and by betting on the Indianapolis Colts.
•Ex-CFL quarterback Jeff Garcia is eligible to become an NFL free agent and probably will reject the chance to re-sign with the Philadelphia Eagles because the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears all have interest in him ... Look for an ex-NBA player to announce on Valentine’s Day that he is gay. He’ll also release a book in conjunction with his public disclosure ... Memphis expects to trade star centre Pau Gasol any day now, and that could mean trouble for the Raptors since a conference rival — namely the Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets or Boston Celtics — is likely to wind up with him.