Scary deal for CFL fans?

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Mark Cohon wouldn't answer the question.

Is he now frightened for his league? Is he now scared for the future of the CFL?

"What I'm here to do is be a leader, to be methodical in my approach. I want to be very methodical in my relationship with the NFL," he responded yesterday.

As expected, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it official, announcing the Buffalo Bills will play one regular season game a year in Toronto for the next five campaigns, plus three pre-season games during the duration of the deal.

B.C. Lions' CEO Bobby Ackles, who spent the better part of two decades working in the NFL between stints running the Lions, says we can officially be afraid. Very afraid.

Ackles has been crying for months leading up to this announcement that the sky is falling.

Yesterday, he felt it landed on the heads of all CFL fans, whether they choose to believe it or not.

You get the idea if Ackles were commissioner he'd be making a stand at the border.

Instead, Cohon flew over the border to hold a press conference following Goodell's yesterday.

"I know the announcement was made today," he said after being delayed by weather in Toronto and arriving five hours after Goodell made the official announcement.

About all he could offer was his plan is to become best buddies with Goodell.

"We have been building a strong relationship between the two of us," he said, indicating that relationship had something to do with next year's Bills home game in Toronto being scheduled for December after the Toronto Argos season is over.

"We need to build a relationship of trust.

"We are talking about a bigger relationship," he said of the CFL and NFL. "I want to be very methodical in our relationship with the NFL."

For decades, the Toronto question was always asked at the NFL commissioner's news conference during the Super Bowl.

Writers would quietly groan when a Canadian media man stood up, everybody in the room knowing the question and the usual politely phrased 'What part of no don't you understand?' response was coming. But this one was different.

Everyone knew Goodell was going to confirm the Toronto games.

"We completed our process, our due diligence," he began.

"I think it was done very thoughtfully and I think it was done to help regionalize the team even broader than it is," he said of the Bills.

"As far as the CFL, it is very important to us. We have always had a very strong relationship with them.

"I believe very much that their success is important.

"I have spoken to Mark Cohon many times and he is comfortable with the arrangements being made around these games to help the CFL.

"We want to continue to have broader relations with the CFL, which we will work with them on.

"We know there is tremendous fan interest in the NFL up in Canada.

"We are very conscious, as I said, of our partners and friends in the CFL. It serves to promote football in Canada and we want to continue to promote that.

"We are not actively looking at expansion right now. It's not on our front-burner.

"The Bills, as I've said, have a tremendous fanbase that comes down from the Toronto/Hamilton area and it's logical as they continue to regionalize and broaden their support that this would benefit the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.

"So we think this is an intelligent move."

Those words aren't all that frightening.

Some in fact, may find a security blanket for CFL fans in there somewhere.

But the reality is that when Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson dies -- he's 89 -- his team is for sale and Larry Tanenbaum and Ted Rogers have put themselves in position to buy it and move it to Toronto.

And, as Al Davis proved bouncing from Oakland to Los Angeles and back with the Raiders, there's not a damn thing the NFL commissioner can do about it, much less the CFL commissioner.


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