Wright treated horribly

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Tom Wright should tell the Canadian Football League where it can stick its commissioner's job.

He should -- but he won't.

Because that isn't who Tom Wright is. He's too nice. He's too polite. He's too much of a gentleman to strike back with any kind of anger.

Besides, where else is he going to get a job like this, where he goes on vacation, finds out his employment has become a matter of internal and external debate, and watches his detractors do an about-face all in the name of avoiding public embarrassment.

And how was your week on the Champs Elysees?

Once upon a time the CFL wasn't even this adept at public relations. It could step into a punch as well as anyone. It rarely saw the landmine before the explosion set off. Only this time, with all the internal sentiment pointing to Wright being shown the door, with back-stabbing governors whispering to anyone who would listen, they managed to save themselves and Wright's job.

In a strange kind of way this could be called progress.

For Wright, it's hard to know what to call it. His future has been batted around like training camp fodder. The disrespect displayed by the CFL governors has surpassed the insulting.

It is reminiscent of an old Jim Bouton story from his famed book, Ball Four. When the team Bouton was playing for found out he was writing a book, shortstop Ray Oyler stood up and announced to the team: "Don't worry Jim. We're behind you, we're behind you, 10%."

Tom Wright was hired to bring civility and stability to the CFL and he has specialized in at least one of those areas. He has majored in speaking softly and kindly, shaking the right hands, cutting the right ribbons, and running from controversy with all the speed of Arland Bruce III.

Some of that has endeared him to football fans, just not necessarily the ones who pay for his services.

A question worth pondering, though: If Tom Wright can't work for the CFL, who can?

As commissioner, Wright has been the perfect combination of wishy and washy, which is exactly how the league wants it. Rather than deal with some of the issues head-on he instead hoped they would go away. In some places, this would lose you a high-priced position. In the CFL, where weak central government is encouraged, this is considered strength. Or weakness.

It depends on the day or the moment or the mood. Or the perceived negative publicity. Or it depends how many votes David Braley and Hugh Campbell, who control the league, can muster.

Braley didn't want Wright hired in the first place and probably would have sacrificed him if given the opportunity yesterday. He likes the league run his way, which means all rules are open to interpretation or being broken, whichever comes first, so long as it suits the good fortunes of his B.C. Lions.

Braley was leading the 'Dump Wright' campaign which had all kinds of momentum until too many CFL big-mouths -- and there are many -- blabbed about what they intended to do to the commissioner.

So Braley, who lost out on the hiring of Wright, lost out again yesterday on the firing.

At least now you can't say the CFL fired Mike Lysko as commissioner for being pro-active and fired Wright for being inactive. Clearly, the league doesn't want someone telling them what to do and now they have the perfect candidate for that -- unless he tells them to take a hike. But that's not Tom Wright's style. His style is to look the other way and move on. Sometimes it's better to be pragmatic than principled.


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