American Football from a fans perspective

Stepping towards open negotiation

Any career in politics that spans an era of roughly three decades is bound to leave some mark of controversy. In the immortal phrase of John Lydgate, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. In the case of the 37th president of the United states (not mention having been the 36th Vice President too), this is perhaps an understatement. History has not judged Richard Nixon well. Few would step forward to defend him or his achievements after his whole career was subsumed by the Watergate Affair.

This is not about to be an apologists re-working of Nixon’s time in office. However it is not often you get to paraphrase something he said without fear of instant contradiction.  During his inauguration speech President Nixon said “Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation”. Well now it would appear the CFL has decided it is time to say, “Let us move from an era of secrecy towards an era of open negotiation lists”.

Apart from the torturous route to a misquote it took to get to this point, what does this actually mean? Back in March we were looking at this very thing ( ).

In short, negotiation lists allow teams to acquire the rights for international players. Players are placed on team negotiation lists on a first come, first serve basis. It is thought, approximately 75% of players do not know they are on a CFL team’s list. Each team has its own negotiation list, allowing the team to have exclusive rights to negotiate a contract with those players. This does not preclude players from signing with another league – only a fully fledged signed contract can do that.

For many years, CFL fans and media alike have complained about the secrecy surrounding teams negotiation lists, arguing that information that is shared among the teams should also be shared among those most invested in the teams – their fans.

Sometimes the identity of a player a team has listed does come out, and at the very least, tends to create something of a talking point. No news is bad news as the old adage goes and you would think the CFL would be happy to use any tool at its disposal to create interest.

With this in mind, it seems almost counterproductive to keep the lists such a secret. Perhaps GM’s don’t want fans picking apart their every backroom decision or move. They could adjust to that surely though. Imagine if you did know who was on the lists – if it covered some NCAA players who were potentially heading North it might make for some interesting reading for CFL and college ball fans alike.

Especially since creating a level of negotiation list chatter would seem to be a way to extend CFL conversations beyond simply what happens on the field.  Well, it appears that the veil of secrecy, if only partially, is starting to be lifted.

At its recent meeting of presidents and general managers in Banff, the CFL decided that teams will release 10 names from their respective negotiation lists to the public two times a year – in February and December. The first release is next month, while the second is timed to come before the U.S. college bowl season.

(TSN’s Dave Naylor reported on the slight cultural shift

“It’s a great way to promote more transparency and I think it’s a good place to start,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said this week. This way teams remain largely in control. Releasing 10 names per team will generate interest and be a good way of seeing what impact that has. It is likely that they may not be the biggest names on the lists whilst teams test the waters, but if GM’s find it isn’t affecting business then it my grow into a bigger thing – we shall see.

Hamilton were the first team to voluntarily open up some of their list early last year,( and there is no denying it created something of a buzz. It seems the league was paying attention. For now they can create a buzz on a wider scale, and keep fans talking. Surely that can only be good thing.


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