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The cushy existence Mark Cohon has been enjoying in the CFL is ending. A month after becoming commissioner, Cohon is about to be urged to intervene in a messy situation.
Several club executives, fearing the CFL cannot afford to lose quarterbacks with gate appeal, plan to approach Cohon about a controversy involving Jesse Palmer.
The ex-NFL QB is on the Montreal Alouettes’ roster and is renowned throughout Canada and the United States, mostly because of his television appearances on The Bachelor series and as an NFL analyst. This past weekend, Palmer was on the NFL Network during the league’s draft.
Palmer, raised near Ottawa, insists he won’t report to training camp if he is not allowed to compete against Anthony Calvillo for starting status. The Als consider Calvillo their undisputed, No.1 QB.
“The CFL is all about high-profile quarterbacks, and there has to be a place somewhere for Palmer this season,” a general manager told me yesterday.
“We can’t just sit back and let Palmer disappear. Cohon has to do something.”
The execs want the commish to order the Als to trade Palmer. The Als, of course, won’t appreciate such meddling.
Palmer, 28, has offers from U.S. networks to analyze NFL football this year and can make considerably more money doing that than he would as a CFL backup.
If he sits out this season, he’ll be eligible for free agency after the Grey Cup game and could, in 2008, start at QB for the planned new franchise in Ottawa, which would be partly owned and operated by his father, Bill Palmer, a former Rough Rider.
• The wealthiest player in the CFL, incidentally, is the Calgary Stampeders’ new QB.
That’s presuming Akili Smith hasn’t blown the $10.8-million U.S. signing bonus he received from the Cincinnati Bengals as the third overall choice back in the 1999 NFL draft.
Smith flopped in the NFL and has worked recently as a real-estate agent but, at 31, he’s confident he can stick with the Stamps.
Unlike Palmer, however, Smith has no thoughts about earning first-string status in Calgary, where Henry Burris is the clear No. 1.
• Sam Mitchell has been thoroughly outcoached during the Raptors’ playoff series, and that’ll make it easier for management to let him go this summer ... I guess Raptors fans will boo Mitchell in the future when he returns to Toronto, just as they do when their ex-hero, Vince Carter, reappears ... I feel sorry for the Raptors’ fanatical fans. They often get misled by irresponsible reporting from cheerleaders and apologists who cover the team in Toronto — all of whom predicted the Raps would defeat the New Jersey Nets in the first round.