Paris in the spring never looked so good to Tom Wright.
The Canadian Football League commissioner will not only be back in his office once he returns next week from a vacation in Paris, but he'll be working beyond this season.
The CFL board of governors yesterday agreed via conference call to negotiate a contract extension with Wright, whose three-year term ends after the 2005 season. There had been widespread rumours that Wright's days were numbered because of a supposed lack of confidence in his leadership.
Now, he'll get a chance to continue to do his job indefinitely. There are rumours some teams -- in particular the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- want to give him a three-year extension, while others are more inclined to extend the deal for only one year.
In advance of the meeting, Wright told the Toronto Sun he fully expected to be able to do his job constructively this season, regardless of what transpired with the board.
"Ultimately my responsibility is to control and manage the league operations -- to do what's right for our game and principally our fans," Wright said. "Sometimes it's the fan who is the one that's left out in this whole process. I've been very committed to this league."
He had no idea why his leadership had come into question.
"I'm not the one to ask, I guess," he said. "I'll judge people by what they do, not what they say. I look at my record, the record of the league and what we as a collective have been able to accomplish and I think it's quite strong.
"Do we have weaknesses? Do we have warts? Do we have areas we can improve upon? Absolutely. I'm certainly far from perfect. I've got a lot of areas I need to grow on, but ultimately the challenge in any kind of league is to get consensus on all issues."
One of those key issues -- aside from fixing the muddled Ottawa Renegades ownership situation, which Wright is confident will be resolved -- is implementing a salary cap with teeth. He has talked about doing that since he took office, but hasn't been able to enforce anything and was quoted earlier this year as saying the cap is a floor, not a ceiling. The cap is set at $2.6 million per team. It likely will be adjusted in the new collective bargaining agreement, which will replace the current one after this season.
"I believe having the right salary-management system in place -- (one) that's transparent and forcible, (one) that's a made-in-Canada solution -- is critical to our long-term success and I will continue to move forward to put the right system in place," Wright said. "In the end, will every team agree with that? Probably not. But ultimately if the majority feels that way and if provided with the authority to implement it, then I would do that."
When asked if he had the authority to do everything he wants, Wright said: "The quick answer to that is no, but I believe that making sure we understand what is required to do the job is I'm sure one of the things (the board discussed)."