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North of the Border: AFL Recovers CFL Fumble

Tim Capper
Wednesday September 6, 2000

The game clock ran down as my hometown Montreal Alouettes beat the B.C. Lions when the news came across the internet, "AFL to Invade Canada"

Being the rabid AFL and CFL fan that I am, this was great news. There have been talks for quite a while that the AFL would come to Canada as a part of the CFL. But after I read the story, it seemed to me that the CFL had just fumbled the ball, and the AFL is about to score big, most likely at the expense of the CFL.

Here`s what we do know. The AFL in Canada was almost a certainty. The question was, in what form would it come to the Great White North? Soon to be ex-CFL President Jeff Giles wanted to help protect the league by creating a Canadian AFL with the help of the US AFL during the CFL’s offseason. For reasons unknown to me, the CFL Governors turned down the idea, causing Giles to hand in his resignation effective after this season. And now, it seems as if the New England Sea Wolves are moving into the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for the 2001 season. This means that when the AFL does arrive, it will be as hostile enemies rather than allies.

With the popularity of the AFL at an all time high, and the NFL very interested in the league, a CFL/AFL partnership would make sure that they don`t directly compete for the same summer dollar. Why would they anyway? Well, the leagues are very similar. For example both leagues are high scoring, and both the AFL and CFL can have men in motion as the ball is snapped.

With the Governors rejecting the AFL, the CFL is now open to direct competition. It is possible that some CFL owners don`t see the AFL as a threat, though that may be a huge mistake.

The AFL Toronto`s direct competition will be the Toronto Argonauts. As some of you may or may not know, the support for the Argos seems to be at an all-time low. The team is 1-6-1 entering the Labor Day game versus Hamilton, have just fired their head coach, and hired former star Mike "Pinball" Clemons. The Argos have resorted to giving away a cash prize based on the attendance at home games. Despite the big money, the team only averaged approximately 11,000 the past two home games.

With the acquisition of the Sea Wolves, the relocated team already has an established core of players and a veteran Head Coach in Mike Hohensee should they decide to stay despite the move to colder climes. That factor alone can lead to putting a winner on the field immediately. Remember that the Sea Wolves played in and hosted their first playoff game during the 2000 season.

And now the Arena Football League is in Canada. Not just that, but a potentially winning team is in a city with a failing one. What will this mean to the CFL? Only time will tell.

Tim Capper has been a staff member of ArenaFan since 2000 and been the host of AFL Tonight since its inception in 2001. Tim being an avid arena football fan since 1987, has attended games in 16 different cities, including 11 ArenaBowls. He currently lives in Montreal, Canada with his wife Karen. You can follow Tim on Twitter at @reppact
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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