Argos unfazed by NFL

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

If he didn't have plans tonight to watch the game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers on TV, Mike Vanderjagt sounds like he might have wandered down to the Rogers Centre and joined a scheduled protest against the NFL and the Buffalo Bills.

"From a football standpoint, this is an Argonaut city, not an NFL city," said Vanderjagt, who is back kicking and punting with the Argos this season after nine years playing south of the border. "We are quite happy with the way things are here. I just don't see (a Bills move to Toronto) happening, nor do I want it to happen.

"It's a marketing ploy to increase interest in Buffalo, with regard to the Bills, north of the border. They are doing what they have to do."

Whether one holds the view that the NFL pre-season game tonight between Buffalo and the Pittsburgh Steelers is the beginning of an NFL invasion that winds up in a permanent move by the Bills to Toronto, or simply is the first of eight games the Bills will play here in five years, the issue has caused a divide among football fans in Hogtown.

But the Argos, with the Bills in their midst, generally looked upon the game with indifference. Still, under that guise, a few of the veterans seemed rankled that the topic was put forth.

"You know, good for the Bills, whatever, just leave it at that," said defensive end Jonathan Brown, whose football experience includes dressing for the St. Louis Rams in the 2001 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. "It does not affect us. We might get a better crowd."

NOT WORRIED

Linebacker Mike O'Shea, the current longest-serving CFL player, doesn't see the Bills/Steelers match as a sign the NFL is spreading its tentacles in Canada. O'Shea, 37, has been doing battle in the CFL since 1993 after a fine post-secondary career with the University of Guelph.

"I think this is still a test phase," O'Shea, a North Bay native, said. "I think inroads are made after you run tests and decide something is viable.

"If we had a stellar record (instead of 3-4), it would make me feel a lot better. I think the CFL is a great product, a fantastic price, so your entertainment dollar is not stretched."

In a perfect world, would Brown, who seemed to have more on his mind regarding the matter than he was willing to say, rather the Bills not play in Toronto at all?

"In a perfect world, no comment," Brown said. "They're here, so we have to deal with it."

Many of the Argos who were asked about the Bills playing in their house said they're not big NFL fans in the first place, including defensive back Kenny Wheaton and head coach Rich Stubler.

"I have no feeling on it, no thought process," Stubler, a Colorado native, said. "My dad would say, when I was coaching in college, that he would not walk across the street to watch my team play.

"I am just not a big fan. It is a whole different genre, and I am a great CFL fan."

Stubler noted the price difference between seeing a single Bills game in Toronto and Argos season tickets is not much different.

"It's a horse of two different things," Stubler said. "You buy one ticket for a Bills game or you buy a season ticket for the Argos. It's a whole different deal."


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