Ridin' with Chevy

RANDY CHEVRIER -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Dear Casey Printers,

Welcome to the new CFL. Since you've been gone, there have been a lot of changes.

We have a new commissioner in Mark Cohon, the Ottawa Renegades folded, the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes are no longer the powerhouses they were in your time and there is a new Salary Management System.

Losing the Renegades hurt the league a little because it sent us back to a time where teams could not stay afloat because of circus-like management practices.

It also hurt a lot of players because a whole roster of jobs was lost.

To remedy some of the lunacy and curb some of the overspending, the CFL board of governors approved the aforementioned Salary Management System. Each team has $4.5 million to spend on its roster.

No longer can teams hide bonuses that players receive. If it goes to the player and comes from the team, it fits under the cap. If you were to negotiate a car or housing allowance in your deal, it will fall under the cap.

What that means is that all the teams operate on an even playing field. Teams like the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders can afford to keep up with the Edmontons and Montreals of the world. Consequently, the 'Riders and the Bombers are the two top teams in their respective divisions. Oh, how times have changed!

The SMS has brought more financial stability to the league, and slowly things are getting better. The only guys that will really suffer under the cap are those middle-of-the-roster guys. Typically, those guys will be your average Canadian kids who play for the love of the game and for just enough money that makes it worth putting their other career plans on hold.

You see, Casey, in order to make room for your type of salary ($1.6 million for three years), guys making middle-of-the-pack money will no longer be kept around on rosters as they were in the past. There will be a lot of player turnover, as those guys will be released in favour of younger guys playing at minimum CFL salary ($39,000).

But, alas, such is football life in the new CFL.

There have also been some new rule changes that help make the game more exciting.

Teams can no longer punt out of bounds between the 20-yard lines, thus encouraging more returns. Oh, and you will like this one: The league has given quarterbacks more protection. You guys cannot be hit below the knees, above the shoulder or be pulled down from behind. You should last a lot longer as a result these ones.

But not all is new in the CFL, Casey. Since you left, the league tried switching footballs and now returned to the ones you are used to. The field is still 150-yards long including the endzones, and 65-yards wide. We still operate on a 20-second clock. We play three downs, and there are 12 players a side. Oh yeah ... and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are still the worst team in the CFL.

Finally, Casey, I hope you are up for the challenge.

Hamilton needs you now more than ever. They have great fans and are starving for a winner. I just hope they did not spend too much on you and left nothing to help improve your supporting cast. Well, good luck with that project and we'll see you in two weeks.

Hope to sack you soon,

Chevy

HITS TO THE HEAD

- Offensive lineman Bobby Singh learned the hard way to always ask what the 'market value' is on seafood when ordering at a restaurant. You see, the night before the Edmonton game, Bobby and the rest of the O-line went to eat at Ruth's Chris. Bobby ordered the lobster at 'market value', a steak and some sides. Little did Bobby know market price was $150 for the lobster. His total bill came to $250. That's about three away games worth of per-diem money.

- When Tearrius George grabbed a Ricky Ray fumble Friday night, he brought the ball with him to the bench. He didn't know that was the unofficial signal for wanting to keep the ball and it would wind up in his locker the next day. Not really wanting to keep the ball or pay the $75 it would cost him to keep the ball, he asked if he could send it back to Edmonton. That will be $35 for shipping, please.

- I listened to Casey Printers' press conference. He said, "I don't just want to prove that I am the best quarterback in the CFL, I want to prove that I am the best in the country!" Now, I am pretty certain that coming in he is probably better than most CIS or junior kids in Canada at this point in his career. As for the CFL ... time will tell.


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