Bryan Crawford can't envision a weekend next summer when he's not running down field to make a block or tackle on special teams.
The Argonauts' player rep and special teams captain doesn’t think a player lockout will be the result when the collective bargaining agreement between the Canadian Football League and the CFL Players' Association expires the day before training camps open next spring.
“I’m going to be playing football next year,” Crawford said. “I don't think a work stoppage is beneficial to either party.
“I can't predict how negotiations are going to go. I can only say that during any type of labour negotiations, there are challenges, but I think both sides have the best interests at heart and we are going to go forward in a manner that is appropriate.”
In a statement released on Friday afternoon, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon acknowledged the league and union are “in the midst of the collective bargaining process.”
But Cohon otherwise did not shed much light on the issue.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further on that process, except to say that our goal is a negotiated settlement that’s in the best interests of our fans, our players, our member clubs and our league.”
Among the reported issues that are drawing contention are hours players have to work each day — officially, it’s 4 1/2, but that does not include injury treatments, workouts and taking video to watch at home — and the possible reduction of non-import players that each team must start.
The CFL reportedly wants players to work six-hour days, while it also wants to drop the number of starting Canadians on each game roster to four from seven.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers player rep Doug Brown was not impressed that tough negotiations have been made public.
“The most important thing any of us are worrying about is the game on Sunday (against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats),” Brown said. “We’ve got all off-season to worry about the CBA. That’s all you’re getting out of me. It expires in June. You guys are early.”
Brown was ticked that Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben was quoted in the Canadian Press story that broke the news of the CBA talks, though Eiben did not say anything contentious.
“I think you should call Kevin Eiben, because apparently he knows what’s going on,” Brown said. “Anything Kevin Eiben says, pretty much the exact opposite is true. When it comes to CBA negotiations, Kevin Eiben, who is not a player rep, knows less than nothing about what’s going on.”
Saskatchewan Roughriders player rep Jeremy O’Day did not seem overly worried that a lockout could be the end result.
“It’s still early in the stages and I guess anything can happen in this process, but we’re hoping for the best,” O’Day said.
It’s obvious to any CFL observer that a lockout would be disastrous for the league. Though negotiations likely will get nasty through the winter, it’s difficult to imagine the two sides won’t come to common ground prior to the 2010 season.