CFL whistle-blowers? Not!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Although the CFL's salary management system is just a few days old, it's already time to blow the whistle on one ridiculous clause.

The league's board of governors is hoping players will rat on their own general manager if their team is failing to report financial side deals to sneak under the salary cap.

In other words, if a player receives a free car or subsidized apartment rent and it's not reported by the club, the league's head office is hoping that player will step forward to blow the whistle.

It's a ludicrous idea. Who bites the hand that feeds them beside Terrell Owens?" asked Edmonton Eskimo fullback Mike Maurer, a nine-year CFL veteran.

"There has to be some loyalty to your team."

Undetected side deals have been part of the league for years. Free gold-seat hockey tickets, a free computer or appearance fees have all been much-rumoured perks.

And side deals are bound to continue.

The league is suggesting there will be some sort of reward system for the players stepping forward, like in the NFL.

But who would ever want to be known as a rat after receiving unreported perks from his team that is desperately trying to save room under the cap?

Why would other teams want to sign a rat?

"Pay players to rat on their own teams? Good luck with that," Blue Bomber kicker Troy Westwood told the Winnipeg Sun.

"That's atrocious.

"Any man worth his salt is not going to rat on an organization that helped him put food on his family's table."

Eskimo offensive guard Sandy Annunziata might be one of the most qualified players to address the topic, considering he has been with four teams over 10 years.

He's an expert on the inner workings of the locker-room.

"I don't think (the idea) is realistic," said Annunziata.

"I would never do it."

The league deserves an incredible amount of credit for ratifying the salary management system.

The plan is loaded with great ideas, like having two compliance officers with the ability to audit a team's books and check for hidden side deals.

Obviously, the compliance officers aren't going to catch everything. That is a fact of life.

But expecting a player to reveal the deal is complete fiction.

LATE HIT: There could be some very interesting negotiations between agents and teams near the end of this season.

With no hefty fines for blowing over the cap limit this year, it's not unreasonable to think a team and agent could tear up an existing contract for a superstar player this fall and renegotiate.

In fact, from the cheap seats in the press box, it makes total sense.

Eliminating an existing deal this fall and replacing it with an immediate $150,000 signing bonus and a base salary that's $50,000 lower during the following three years is smart business.

If a team follows that scenario with two players, suddenly the club is $100,000 under the cap every season for the next three years and has the ability to sign another significant player to improve the club.

It's a win-win scenario.

EXTRA POINT: Kudos to the board of governors for realizing the job isn't done.

While a salary cap for player costs goes a long way to bringing competitive balance, deep-pocketed teams can still spend more for quality coaches and recruiting.

"There is a recognition that there are other areas that will eventually need to be addressed to try and create an equitable playing field," said Ted Hellard, the chair of the SMS committee and a Calgary Stampeder owner.


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