Death of NFL Europa won't affect Bombers

KIRK PENTON

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

The demise of NFL Europa won't have much of an effect on the CFL, according to Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Brendan Taman.

The NFL's development league on Friday folded after 15 seasons, mostly due to financial reasons. The loop was reportedly losing $30 million per season.

The NFL, which ran NFL Europa, is instead going to concentrate on regular-season games outside of the U.S.

The European league was a place for NFL teams to send its prospects each spring, with as many as 90% of the players allocated. The other 10%, who were basically football free agents, weren't good enough to play in the CFL anyway, according to Taman.

Those players will now likely head to the Arena Football League.

"It'll help the Arena League get players immediately," Taman said. "It doesn't change our approach too much."

Most CFL general managers converged upon NFL Europa training camps in Florida every March to see which prospects were on the bubble of making their respective NFL teams.

"Basically that trip to Florida was to identify the guys (the NFL teams) were going to release in camp in August," Taman said. "So it was sort of a chance to see the NFL cuts early. That's the way I looked at that."

So now most of the players who were allocated to Europe just won't have a place to play in the spring. That doesn't mean they'll be headed to Canada, however, because they will still be the property of NFL squads.

"It doesn't open up 10 new quarterbacks for me to sign before camp. It's the same deal," Taman said. "All those quarterbacks are going to the NFL camps anyway. No biggie.

"... I felt bad more for coaches than anybody, because that hurts them."

One of the affected coaches is Don Lawrence, the offensive co-ordinator for the Berlin Thunder. Lawrence was Winnipeg's offensive line coach in 1989.

The current Bomber roster features several players who spent time in NFL Europa, including defensive end Gavin Walls and defensive back Anthony Malbrough.

NFL Europa is also where current Chicago Bears defensive tackle Israel Idonije, a Brandon native and former University of Manitoba Bison, kickstarted his NFL career.

Idonije won the World Bowl, the league's championship game, with Berlin in 2004.


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