Toronto's dreaming impossible NFL dream


, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

TORONTO - Somewhere on the way to saving us taxpayers and halting the great gravy train, the brothers Ford have put their heads together and decided it is time Toronto have a team in the National Football League.

It is an old dream, a nice dream, a $2 billion dollar dream and it remains, basically the impossible dream.

I know. As an NFL advocate and one-time believer in the possibility of a Toronto franchise, Ive been writing about this, knocking on NFL doors, talking to NFL owners, for more than two decades. The truth of the matter: Toronto isnt close to getting a team now, has never really been all that close, and in spite of all the hard work Paul Godfrey put in chasing his tail, isnt really on the NFLs radar at this or any other time (except to overpay for Buffalo Bills games).

To be a world class city, at least a North American world class city, we need an NFL team, Doug Ford, the Mayors brother and right-hand man told Sun Media.

The Ford brothers happen to love football. They are flying to Chicago this weekend for the NFL playoff game between Da Bears and the Green Bay Packers.

The Mayor coaches the high school game in the fall, has been a city advocate for startup programs in the game and on many Sunday afternoons in the summer can be found at community fields watching minor football. Football is in his blood.

It would be very exciting if there was an NFL team to come to Toronto, said Mayor Ford, who admitted it isnt a huge priority right now, but it is certainly something I would like to have discussions about in the future.

If the private sector comes to the table and wants to build a stadium, I am all ears...This (the NFL) would help create jobs, its good for the NFL, and lets face it, I love football.

A quick history lesson: In 1965, Toronto applied for an NFL expansion franchise. It didnt happen. In 1989, a group of prominent Toronto business people, including Godfrey, announced it was their plan to go after an NFL team for the city. That hasnt happened. In 1995, another group, that included Godfrey, made an attempt to purchase the New Orleans Saints. That didnt happen. And in the 45 years of the great NFL chase, the league has expanded by eight teams and had seven teams move cities almost half the franchises in play and all the while Toronto has been on the outside looking in, waiting for the call.

Never mind that Toronto is bigger and richer than Houston, Indianapolis, Nashville, Oakland, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Seattle, Tampa, New Orleans or Atlanta.

They have teams.

We dont.

And never mind that the cost of a franchise is in the $1-billion range, with the cost of a 75,000 seat stadium being just about the same. And never mind that the NFL has no plans to expand. And never mind that Los Angeles doesnt have a team and the next franchise to move will likely end up there.

Overall interpretation: These are eager, naive politicians with their hearts in the right place, their voices howling at the moon.

At least one of them doesnt understand or care to understand the politics of the NFL.

In his interview with Sun Media, Doug Ford mentioned the troubled state of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the possibility of the San Diego Chargers moving, saying, We would take San Diego.

In the head office of the NFL, that quote alone would have just about everyone cringing.

Lesson 1: If you want to do business with the giant NFL, you do it on their terms.

Lesson 2: Even if you act on their terms, it doesnt guarantee youll wind up with anything. See: Godfrey, Paul.

Lesson 3: If you mention and target troubled franchises for public consumption, you might as well stop the fight right there. The NFL wont do business with singular non-conformists. It is their way or the highway and a story like todays will actually hurt Torontos chances, if it has any.

The real discussions are going to start after the season is over, said Doug Ford.


Or perhaps this ends up the way the rest of these stories tend to end up. As a headline for a day, with thoughts of football grandeur without any realistic hope of success.