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Buffalo Bills player Marshawn Lynch horses around at Sir Sanford Fleming Academy in Toronto...

Buffalo Bills player Marshawn Lynch horses around at Sir Sanford Fleming Academy in Toronto yesterday. (Sun Media/Greg Henkenhaf)

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

Welcome to Toronto, mistress of the National Football League.

They say bend over. We touch our toes.

We can't have our own NFL team -- even though the market is ripe for one -- so we're about to learn to share time with somebody else's spouse.

And all the while we have to hope that the man, in this case the Buffalo Bills, will cross the border just for us.

That's always the story, isn't it? The old and often sad story.

But normally in the game of flirtation and infatuation, somebody gets hurt. That is all but guaranteed. And if not hurt, then used.

When Paul Godfrey promised a lifetime ago that he would bring the NFL to Toronto this two-game package couldn't have been what he had in mind. His view now, and I'm speaking for him because he's out of the country, is that this cosy relationship is an investment in Toronto's football future.

When Godfrey leaves Israel for London this weekend for the NFL game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins -- and no, despite rumours to the contrary he has no plans to leave the Blue Jays -- he is there to put in more face time with the league, as if they don't know him after 20 years of glad-handing. He is, and always has been, optimistic about the NFL coming to Toronto permanently.

But what Godfrey and friends have accomplished in the short term is this: Until further notice, they have turned Toronto into Milwaukee.

Milwaukee used to be the satellite city for the Green Bay Packers. Toronto is about to become the satellite city for the Bills.

That would make some sense if we were Milwaukee, where there is a strong connection to the Packers. Toronto is a strong and terrific NFL city but there's no real connect with the Bills. There are as many Miami fans as Buffalo fans here, with as many or more Dallas fans than Cleveland fans. You could go around the league and find just about every team represented by a fan base in this market.

The beauty of sport comes from emotional attachment but there is no emotional attachment to the Bills here. There hasn't really been one since the Jim Kelly Super Bowl years, and even that was distant.

The attachment to the current Bills of Marshawn Lynch and Trent Edwards basically is non-existant.

Maybe the attraction will grow with time. Maybe somebody somewhere will find a parking lot big enough and legal enough and close enough to Rogers Centre to allow something similar to tailgating before the games. (Although, don't bet on that.)

Maybe the very thought of playing host to one-eighth of an NFL team's home schedule will be enticing enough in the short term to excite people. Maybe we'll change the way we cover football in this city, become more of a Bills town, invest emotionally in something we've never invested in before.

That's possible.

More likely, Toronto is being set up to play the part of rube. The Buffalo Bills need to dish off one of their pre-season games and where better to dump it than here. The regular-season game scenario is harder to figure: How the Bills benefit from giving up a home game has yet to be fully explained to me?

I can understand there being excitement for a regular-season game. That adds to the landscape of the city while keeping the protectionist screamers of Canadian football quiet.

If one regular-season game at Rogers Centre has any impact on the Canadian Football League, what does that tell you about the relative strength of the CFL?

It's one big event a year. No different than another concert.

But the pre-season game is another matter entirely. This is a sucker's play. There may be less interesting events than pre-season NFL football, but I can't think of any.

But undoubtedly you couldn't have had one without the other. Assuming the NFL vote will pass, Toronto will have its NFL team, twice a year, somebody else's team.

It's not what we wanted, better than we had.

Does this assure them of moving the Bills here permanently?

Absolutely not. But the fact there is a long-term relationship between new commissioner Roger Goodell and the old hunter Godfrey can't hurt.

Does this assure the Toronto interests will be able to purchase the franchise upon the passing of Bills owner Ralph Wilson?

That's not certain either.

For all the other answers, all we can do is wait. And line up for tickets.


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