CFL fiasco rude reality

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

It's easy to forget there's anything wrong with sports when you're hanging out with our amateur athletes.

The last two months or so have been sheer bliss for this sportswriter.

Coaches who go out of their way to grant interviews. Athletes who, instead of trying to figure out how they'll cash in on an Olympic gold medal, decide to clean out their bank accounts for charity.

This stuff's too good to be true.

No hidden agendas, no out-of-control egos -- just world-class competitors performing for all the right reasons.

It was kind of like working in a glass bubble, shielded from the real world.

After awhile, you've heaped so much praise on people like Clara Hughes, Cindy Klassen and the rest of our Olympic heroes, you can't help but wonder if you've lost an edge.

Then you catch up on what's been going on in the Canadian Football League -- and you find yourself heading straight for the shotgun cabinet.

This one's worth emptying both barrels, at least once.

Somebody please tell me how in the name of Lonie Glieberman we're barely eight weeks from training camp and the minds who run the CFL (I use that term loosely) don't know how many teams will operate this season?

By now you've heard how Lonie and his dad Bernie's second go at owning a team in Ottawa has been even more disastrous than the first (and that's saying something), lasting just one season.

With the Gliebermans no longer willing to pay the bills, the CFL has revoked the franchise. If a new owner isn't found within, say, a week, there likely won't be football in Ottawa this year.

And commissioner Tom Wright and the rest of the governors didn't see this coming?

That's like letting your dog eat a pound of butter, then expressing surprise when it throws up all over the kitchen floor.

This search for a new owner should have begun months ago.

Check that. The search that turned up Bernie and Lonie should never have settled on Bernie and Lonie in the first place.

You could argue the mess in Ottawa actually started when the league overcharged the original Renegades owners to get into the league four years ago.

Why should anyone pay $4 million for an expansion franchise, when they can just wait around for a team to go bankrupt and pick it up for nothing? It was during the 2003 season, remember, when both the Toronto Argos and Hamilton Ticats went into receivership.

But no, the league chose a quick expansion cash grab, rather than make a decision for the long-term.

Over the next three seasons, the Renegades lost ridiculous amounts of cash -- exacerbated by the league's disregard for its own salary cap -- the owners got fed up, the league got desperate enough to welcome back the Gliebermans, and here we are.

Who knows, maybe even Bernie and Lonie could make it work in the right environment.

Bringing them on board at that time, though, was like throwing water on a grease fire.

Now there are flames shooting up all over the place.

The league's pie-in-the-sky plan to expand to 10 teams? Burned beyond recognition.

Designs on implementing a real salary cap and instant replay have to be on the back-burner, and are starting to get crispy.

You even worry about plans by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to use a hefty Grey Cup profit to finally erase their debt. The idea may not be up in smoke, yet, but the Bombers will have to water it down considerably if the remaining eight teams have to help run the Renegades.

It's always like this, it seems, for the CFL, a dog so short-sighted, it can't see past its own snout. It gets a small taste of success, then gorges itself to the point of illness.

There. I feel better, now.

It's good to be back.


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