There’s a New Marshall in Town, and His Name is Marshall

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On Wednesday afternoon CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon announced that following the completion of his second term as league front man in April of 2015 he will not be continuing as leader of Canada’s only non-hockey professional sports league of relevance. 

Cohon has done yeoman’s work during his stint as CFL commissioner securing a major television deal with TSN, labour peace for (we hope) five years, new stadiums in Regina and Winnipeg, the return of CFL football to Ottawa, etc etc. All while maintaining the perfect balance of waxed chest visibility and business casual attire.

Yah yah yah we get it the guy is the second coming of a less volatile AFL Al Davis but upon announcement of his sudden removal from the Canadian football landscape Jim Lawson and the Canadian Football League board of governors immediately began a search for Cohon’s replacement. 

Over four applications were received, with names such as Ticats President Scott Mitchell and Toronto mayoral deserter Karen Stintz rumoured to be in the running there was no shortage of speculation over the last 48 hours. As all night owls can attest A&E has taught us that the First 48 can be a confusing time, but there is always an answer. 

After careful consideration and headed debate in both the House Of Commons and the Tim Horton’s in North Battleford Saskatchewan the CFL has announced that the 13th commisioner in the history of the CFL will be… Me.

You see I applied for the basic fact that by April 2015 I will be completed both my CIS football career and education at McMaster University. Just another freshly graduated student looking for consistent, enjoyable employment. I thought, hey If this guy 

 

 

 

 

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can hold down this job and make this league look good it really can’t be all that hard.

It turns out the CFL executive committee couldn’t have agreed more. They were looking for a fresh face to stay long term and change the game for better, so i presented them with this thirty one point proposal on how I would change the Canadian Football League. 

Upon appointment to the position of commissioner I will be enforcing the following amendments to league procedures effective April 1, 2015. 

1) REDBLACKS are now Redblacks

Ottawa, we get it, you’re excited to be back in school but it’s only the 6th day of class and your workspace isn’t even cleaned up yet. Please stop yelling your name at us and quietly make your way to the back of the classroom and/or standings where you will likely reside for the remainder of the 2014 academic calendar.

2) Twitter required by all players and coaches.

We are a league in search of visibility and easily accessible outreach from fans to combat the often guarded media trained NFL stars. There is no better way to create interest in a player, team or league in modern society than being directly accessible through twitter. Please see Chad Ochocinco’s 3.6 MILLION followers for proof. Besides who doesn’t enjoy getting ink updates from their favourite club’s special teams coordinator?!

Jeff ReinboldDon’t worry, I do realize there will be negatives to mandated twitter accounts.. Ugh.. Moe Price.. regarding Michael Sam getting drafted..

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3) The Maple Point

The play formerly referred to as the extra point will now forever be known as the maple point. Also it will involve the kicking team going for one point from anywhere inside the forty yard line that the defending team chooses or going for two points from the fifteen yard line. Pick your poison

4) Schedule Changes

There will be no games before Wednesday evening. Football is not a game designed to be played on a short break or before I feel I have accomplished anything that given week.

There will be no Sunday games after Labour Day Monday. We are directly competing for eyeballs with a product we can not compete with visually, the NFL. Let’s be real about this, cut our loses and own the Thursday-Saturday night stretch on Canadian television.

 5) More Interviews with Equipment Managers.

One of many unsung heroes of a CFL locker room, equipment managers tirelessly labour to outfit and indulge needy professional athletes. 

An interview with George (Geo) Hopkins (Aka Ginger Costanza) regarding the new Calgary Stampeders helmet he designed shows that equipment managers are unique characters with creative ideas.

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 I am mandating a weekly interview with a member of the training or equipment staff with local beat writers. In lieu of this arrangement equipment staff may be allowed to call the first play of the game on offence since most coordinators act like that is a throw away play anyways to protect their nervous quarterbacks.

6) The Argos are now owned by MLSE and moving to BMO Field.

It has to happen to save football in Toronto. I don’t believe that Toronto can continue to exist in this league with an 85% empty stadium in a building which they are simply a guest in. Similar to revenge, Canadian football is a dish best served cold.. as in outdoors in November and in front of rabid fans.

7) Traffic Improvements for Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.

It seems as though Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and Blue Bombers ownership believed they were playing Christopher Llyod as Doc Brown in Back To The Future in 2010 by placing their 33,422 seat facility in a place where roads are few and far between. 

Indulge me as you conjure up an image of Mayor Katz arguing with a councillor in 2009 over where to put the new stadium. The councillor explains to Mr. Mayor that the proposed location at Chancellor-Matheson Road in the South end of Winnipeg doesn’t have enough established infrastructure to support large numbers of people coming and going. To this Mr. Katz slams his fists on the podium in front of him and exclaims, “Roads? Where were going we don’t need roads”.

Seriously though you decided two years ago to spend $30 million on improving traffic flow at Polo Park fourteen kilometres away and now the best you can do is send out a traffic warning on the team website before each game? Build more roads before fans build catapults.

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8) Media Availability

Locker rooms will be closed to the media for thirty minutes following games and practices allowing players and coaches to gather their thoughts preventing blowups and Stegall-esque verbal spats with reporters. After the allotted time reporters will be given full access to all requested. Is that okay with you Chris Jones?

9) 50/50 Gratuity 

Effective immediately all tickets will include a $3 gratuity built into their cost. This cost is not optional and will be given directly to the 50/50 raffle that evening guaranteeing someone goes home richer. 

Regular aisle sales of 50/50 tickets will continue as usual meaning the jackpot in Edmonton will reach somewhere around $450,000 while the winnings in Toronto should be enough for a Tim Hortons breakfast combo.

10) Someone has to hire Paul Lapolice… PLEASE?

For the good of the empathetic football viewing fan at home, one of the nine CFL teams must hire Paul Lapolice into a coaching role. There is pain in the man’s eyes while describing X’s and O’s that he clearly misses. 

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In a league that recycles and swaps coaches like few others, there has to be a fit for Paul. I just can’t allow skinny Don Zimmer to be trapped in the CFL on TSN studio any longer. I nominate Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal in the Paul Lapolice challenge. You have 24 hours to respond. 

11) Three down football, three team limit.

Speaking of the CFL’s tendency to recycle damaged goods.. Effective immediately If a player is traded for less than a first round pick or released three times they are no longer allowed in the Canadian Football League.

This may seem harsh, but i’ve lost track of where Hugh Charles, Maurice Mann and Dwight Anderson are playing on a week to week basis and I’ve got a pretty steady job serving at Boston Pizza so the time and effort required to make sure I know which GM has decided to take a leap of faith on them this week just isn’t there.

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12) Special Teams Alterations

CFL teams may dress only one person to both kick and punt. Special teams coordinators must now decide the importance they place on the arts of field goal kicking, punting and kickoffs in concert with each other and find the most well rounded boot possible.

The move will open up a roster spot for someone of relevance while avoiding confusion over which short guy is Alessandro.

In the event of an injury to the K/P the long snapper may punt for fan entertainment OR a reliever K/P can be called into the game from the bullpen or the beer tent, wherever he is at that moment. There is a 10 yard penalty for calling in a reliever listed under objectionable conduct.

13) Canadian Quarterbacks

Each CFL team must dress a Canadian quarterback. This move gives the games best young home grown pivots the chance to learn and grow as a player instead of feeling helpless and ignored as currently constituted under the Cohon regime.. not that I have any personal experience with that or know several Canadian QB’s that have been left dazed and confused..

 14) More Theme Nights

In the United States of Baseball there is a culture of fun loving theme nights for fans to enjoy the game while expressing their lighter side. Theme nights are ridiculous, idiotic and draw in (or drag along) the casual fan for the sole reason that they can be very very fun. 

Star Wars night went off without at hitch at the Toronto Blue Jays triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons game.

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The State College Spikes, single-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals had Fresh Prince of Bel-Air night which involved Carlton himself throwing out the first pitch and judging a post game Carlton Banks dance contest

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First question, how bad does Alfonso Ribeiro need money that he will attend a single-A game? Second question Why do CFL teams not employ this more often?

Imagine Corner Gas night in Regina or Don Cherry night in Toronto. The cheeky promotions tactics fit perfectly into the CFL vibe. As commissioner I will ensure each team hold at least two theme nights per season.

If you have a theme night you would like to suggest let me know on Twitter @Marsh2Fergs

15) Doug Flutie appointed Deputy Commissioner.

No real tangible reason, I just think he’s a great guy and I was hoping his band could play the grey cup festival this year.

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16) Broadcasting Changes

Rod Black has been released. This is his third release so he will no longer be allowed to work in the CFL as per section eleven. 

Matt Dunnigan will be given a dog collar which Chris Shultz will monitor to ensure Matt no longer leaves the halftime desk. Rod Smith has been promoted to God leaving the desk host job open which Ron Burgandy will now assume and Chris Cuthbert will call no less than 2 games a week.

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17) Unused Tickets

All unsold tickets will be sold at the end of the first quarter to a person over the age of eighteen for $2 stipulating that they must be accompanied by at least one child who will receive a free ticket.

18) Annual Grey Cup Train tour.

In preparation for Grey Cup 100 my predecessor Mark Cohon sent the wickedly talented and incredibly beautiful Kate McKenna on a whirl wind tour of Canada with the cup and a train which contained CFL history and artifacts.

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The train will serve as an annual reminder of the grass roots nature of CFL football while also capturing unbeatable moments of Canadiana such as this woman in Edmonton that received a pretty reasonable price on the paint spawning the catch phrase “Why Not Eh”.

19) The Canadian Football Hall Of Fame now resides in Regina

If you have any questions as to why please refer to this article by Scott Radley in the Hamilton Spectator. Also only two players and one builder/coach per year will be inducted

20) No More Hashtag Helmets

While Twitter is required for athletes and coaches idiotic hashtags are not permitted. If people are watching you play they likely know your team name but thanks for the heads up #Ticats.

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The Argos took things one step further by ignoring their team Twitter handle and simply promoting their in-game commercial break hashtag which allows easy collection of kiss cam and fan photos for the jumbotron.

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If fans are at the game they see #ArgosLive every five minutes on the ginormous screen in front of them. If fans are watching from home they have no need for the hashtag because it is designed for inside the stadium promotions, although attendance at Argo home games is so bad fans may actually be able to read the hashtag from their $10 seats in row 1 seat 1 behind the Argo bench.

As an amendment to this rule I will allow latin slogans which the majority of the team UNDERSTANDS and abides by to make their way onto the back of a helmet such as Quid Quid Requiritur meaning whatever it takes as adopted by the Calgary Stampeders new lid.

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21) Increased Drug Testing

I enjoy the wild wild West feel that spraying the ball all over the yard can supply to the CFL fan, but I also like to think that the athletic freaks of the game are achieving said skills honestly.

At this point I am well aware that many of them do not. A member of the Hamilton Ti-Cats several years ago told me former Cats linebacker Rey Williams had an annual tradition of bragging about his offseason ‘treatments’ during the PED awareness seminar held by league officials at each training camp across the league.

I also attended training camp in Calgary last year where I saw a player openly admit to a doping official and the entire room he had taken a banned substance while awaiting approval for medicinal purposes. Nothing was done. This must change.

22) Currency of the country

Canadian Tire money will now be accepted at all concessions stands.

23) More legends postage stamps, limitless legends postage stamps

Canada Post and the CFL, a match made in functional, artistic, cultural heaven. 

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24) Alumni Flag Tournament

Each organization will be responsible to produce a team of five alumni players from their history to play in a one day 5-on-5 flag football tournament during Grey Cup week in a venue with at least 1000 seats.

25) Purchasing Jerseys

I want jerseys everywhere in the stands so not only will I not charge you an extra $80 to embroider a name and number on the jersey for a teams backup quarterback, beginning tomorrow morning I will also ensure that all Canadian Football League jerseys will be sold at cost with 0% markup. This should lower the cost of a jersey to around $35. I do this for..you know..THE PEOPLE WHO ATTEND OUR GAMES.

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Also free name plate and number exchange when (not if) your favourite player gets traded so long as you pay the return postage with a CFL legends stamp.

26) Historical Alterations

I will ensure that Anthony Calvillo has a display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio as the games all-time leader in passing yards, a visual which does not exist for visitors currently.

For the entire Saskatchewan Roughriders organization I have destroyed all film worldwide of the 13th man in 2009, it now never happened. Also someone go find Lapo and give him a hug please.

27) Sideline Sports Drink Supplier

We are now officially sponsored by Canadian sports drink company GD4U (http://www.gd4u.com) not Gatorade, Powerade or Jack Danielsade.

28) Atlantic Football

We will find a fantastic local ownership group in Halifax to bring the CFL back to Atlantic Canada. Upon finding a suitable leadership core funding for construction will begin and before completion of my second term in 2023 the Atlantic Schooners will return as originally intended to the CFL.

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29) Officiating

Andre Proulx will be given english classes and a manual on how to turn on his microphone while Al Bradbury will be required to wear a Mr.Incredible costume when entering and exiting the stadium.

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Also flags will have a small electric charge built in which will not allow a flag to be thrown more than two seconds after the whistle has blown. This measure aims to prevent pass interference calls that come five seconds after the ‘contact’ and Ben Major (@BenMajor31) has been given a $2000 raise for his heroics earlier this season.

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Murray Clarke has… Mu.. MY GOD, COHON BECAME A REFEREE! 

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This supposed ‘Murray Clarke’, if that is his real name has worked eight Grey Cups, EIGHT! This is the biggest scandal and conflict of interest in Canadian sports history how did this pass the smell taste for all of us?

30) Video Game

Cultivating a strong youth fan base in the CFL is important to the growth and future of the game. Besides supporting the heads up football tackling education initiative I have found other ways to protect and grow the Canadian game. 

Former Commissioner Cohon stated in his exit interview that he was able to check off most of his goals except one which was to create a CFL video game.

In my first five minutes as CFL Commissioner i have completed that which Mark Cohon could not in eight years. The advantage of having a young Commissioner is that I am in tune with the needs and wants of the young fan.

As a result I understand that if you own an XBOX or Playstation video game device and have purchased NCAA 14 you can download all CFL teams with matching stadiums, uniforms, player ratings, names etc in order to get the full CFL vibe. 

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The game is still played under American rules and restrictions but you will be sure to enjoy all the flair and passion of Labour Day rivalries and East-West showdowns in video game format.

31) The Logo

The CFL logo has been reimagined. I asked my design team to find a way to show the unique family nature of attending CFL games that has been passed down generation to generation in many communities across the country. I think they did a bang up job

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* Marshall Ferguson is a current Marauder student athlete originally from Kingston, Ontario attending McMaster University studying Political Science and Communications. While being an active member of the Marauder football program, Marshall also hosts and produces a weekly youth football radio show @OVFL_Live while serving as Sports Director at 93.3 CFMU radio and appearing as a contributor to both AM900 CHML’s The Sports Lounge with Scott Radley and Cable 14’s local football coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @Marsh2Fergs  

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