Canadian football is still one of the biggest sports tickets north of the U.S. border, but at least one CFL team president thinks the NFL could crush the CFL with one move.
In an article in the Winnipeg Sun, B.C. Lions President Bob Ackles believes that the future of the CFL is at stake if an NFL team moves to Toronto.
“No question in my mind a team could be successful in Toronto,” Ackles told Sun Media. “But it would take southern Ontario and immediately kill Toronto and Hamilton and therefore it would kill the Grey Cup and the CFL. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
Translation: those imperialist bastards could trample something that’s uniquely Canadian, and we value our Canadian-ness. (Keep in mind that one of the MVP trophies handed out at the Grey Cup is for Most Valuable Canadian.)
This is clearly an attempt by Ackles to help boost his country’s national identity, though I have to wonder how much identity you can put into a 3-down, 110-yard variation on a game played by your neighbors to the south. The differences between American and Canadian football aren’t quite as severe as the differences between, say, rugby union and rugby league. Wouldn’t it be better for the gridiron game to unify under one code, even if it involved adding some Canadian elements to the American game? (The wider field and more liberal pre-snap motion rules come to mind.)
And where does all this expansion talk come from, anyway? The NFL is evenly aligned right now, and adding only one expansion team would ruin the format. If the NFL were to expand, it would literally have to expand by four teams — two in the AFC, two in the NFC — to remain even, and then it would have to realign each conference into three divisions of six teams, which might ruin a lot of current division rivalries and make a 16-game schedule a bit trickier to pull off.
That alone will keep the NFL out of Toronto for a while. I’m a little surprised anyone is bringing this up now, out of the clear blue nowhere. After all, if the Canadians stuck to playing rugby union, rather than letting ol’ Thrift Burnside change the rules to create a gridiron game, this wouldn’t even be an issue, would it?
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