Charbonneau finds a new outlet

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Unable to write a proper ending to his CFL career, former Edmonton Eskimo Steve Charbonneau is now a football writer.

A two-time Grey Cup champion with the Esks, Charbonneau is now writing a twice weekly football column in the French version of 24 Hours - a Montreal daily newspaper published by Sun Media.

"I look deeper into things than what I see on the surface," said Charbonneau on his style of reporting.

An Eskimo from 2002-06, Charbonneau is in his second month as a football voice for the paper. Receiving some help in writing the columns from another reporter, the former defensive tackle is trying to be different than most commentators on the growing sport in Quebec.

"When you have heard one (electronic media) analyst, you have heard them all," he quipped.

In an effort to be different, Charbonneau is telling stories from a fan's perspective and coming forward with some strong comments.

"I think we are going to have two teams in the West in the Grey Cup and it's in Montreal (this year)," he said last weekend before Montreal hammered Edmonton 40-4.

Charbonneau retired from the Montreal Alouettes in February after an illness ran over him last season - causing him to lose 45 pounds in an eight-week stretch last summer. That's no way to end a career.

There is still no cause for the illness, but whatever it was is gone.

"I feel great," he said. "I train like crazy. I just came back from a 12-kilometre jog and my legs are twice as big as (they were while playing football)."

Living 15 minutes outside of Montreal, Charbonneau owns a gym and is giving spin (cycle) classes twice a day.

Bills ink gaining steam

The CFL is experiencing a disturbing scenario in the Toronto market right now. The Buffalo Bills are 3-0 to start the NFL regular-season while the Toronto Argos are a mess on the field.

One look at TSN's popular Off The Record show on Monday should have concerned CFL executives. Not one but two Buffalo Bills quarterbacks were on the program.

If the Argos can't fix their sinking ship right away and the Bills keeping winning, the media in southern Ontario will continue to gravitate toward Toronto's adopted NFL team.

If the Argos virtually disappear from the newspaper pages and TV sportscasts this fall, fan and sponsorship support becomes even more difficult to cultivate.

Building draft interest

Credit the CFL for trying to create some buzz around its annual draft. By releasing the top 10 players for the 2009 event - according to the CFL's Amateur Scouting Bureau -this week, the media will pay more attention to these players as they get closer to draft day. And Golden Bears o-line- man Simeon Rottier tops the list.

The CFL needs to create more name recognition for its players and more interest in its draft.

This is a good first step.

But a more important step is convincing TSN to broadcast the first two rounds of the 2009 draft next spring.

That will instantly increase fan interest.


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