CFL boss a Yank?

Gene Dunn listens to former commissioner Tom Wright speak at the Grey Cup in Winnipeg last year....

Gene Dunn listens to former commissioner Tom Wright speak at the Grey Cup in Winnipeg last year. Dunn is heading up the search for a new CFL commish. (Sun Media File/Brian Donogh)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

The CFL's search for a new commissioner is down to a short list of three or four candidates.

And get this: at least one is an American.

That tidbit came from interim commissioner Gene Dunn, former chairman of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, during a telephone conversation yesterday from Montreal, site of the league's coach-of-the-year meetings.

"There's a combination (of Canadians and Americans)," Dunn told Sun Media. "What we did in the beginning is develop a criteria for the office of commissioner. I think we've addressed all the criteria in these candidates.

"Any one of them could be the next commissioner. Any one would have tremendous value to the league. That's my view."

The candidates will be meeting individually with CFL governors over the next few weeks. Dunn says he's hoping for a decision by the end of March.

The hiring of an American commissioner would be a first, not to mention a shocker.

This is such a uniquely Canadian game, with uniquely Canadian markets ranging from small, community-based teams in Regina and Winnipeg to privately-held ones in major centres like Toronto and Vancouver.

It would be hard to imagine a commissioner from south of the border having the understanding to oversee it all.

It's not likely to happen, either, not with just one of the CFL's eight decision-makers, owner Bob Wetenhall in Montreal, from the States.

Whoever is hired will likely have more job security than ex-commish Tom Wright ever had.

Dunn suggested the governors are looking for someone "to be able to take the league forward over the next 10 years."

OK, 10 may be stretching it. But don't be surprised if the new boss gets a five-year deal.

Even that would be ground-breaking. Wright originally received just a three-year contract when he was hired following the 2002 season.

"We're being very careful and selective, because we want this next commissioner to be here for the long term," Dunn said. "It'll be a significant term."

The other interesting revelation from Dunn yesterday concerned the new salary management system, and the next commissioner's role in overseeing it.

There's been lots of talk -- and plenty of criticism, including from this corner -- about the league's refusal to go public with its enforcement of the $4.05 million cap.

The belief was we won't hear which teams are caught cheating, how much they're over-spending and how severely they're penalized.

But to hear Dunn tell it, the new commish will have a say in that.

"There is some (wording) in the constitution that suggests some of the information will be made public, at the discretion of the commissioner," he said.

It had better be. How else will the public have any confidence the system is being adhered to, and that all eight teams are on a level playing field?

There's absolutely no reason to hide this stuff. Arguments about private businesses not wanting to divulge their salaries have no merit.

All it tells us is they plan on cheating, and don't want to be publicly identified when they're caught.

Of course, if full disclosure were part of the new system, it probably would never have been passed.

One step at a time, I suppose.

"The league's done a great job in getting it to this stage," Dunn said. "When we first started talking about it, you couldn't get everyone to agree on anything, not even what to have for lunch."

Heaven help them make the right call on a new commissioner.


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