'None of us make millions': Riders react to CFL training camp postponement
REGINA -- With CFL training camps postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans and players are left with many questions about the CFL schedule.
Riders General Manager Jeremy O’Day said Tuesday the league is “going through contingency planning” to prepare for every scenario, but when the league does resume, the Canadian Football League Players Association (CFLPA) wants the CFL to respect the player’s needs.
There’s some worry that when the federal government allows activities to resume to normal, the CFL might rush to resume the regular season.
“Just making sure we get the [CFL players] enough time to be acclimated to the rigours of football and understanding the chemistry that goes into it,” says CFLPA President Solomon Elimimian. The Riders linebacker agrees the hard part is the “uncertainty”.
There’s also the topic of payment. Most off-season compensation, including signing and roster bonuses, have already been paid out. However until training camp resumes, there isn’t another pay day on the schedule.
“The next payments don’t actually usually happen until training camp and then the players are all paid on a week to week basis per game, that’s how it’s always been in done in the past and that’s where we’re at,” said O’Day, via video conference on Tuesday.
That payday should have been mid May, as training camp was scheduled to begin on May 17.
The CFLPA is meeting in the near future and one of the big topics of discussing will be how the league plans on compensating players if there are no games.
“In terms of the season and how a shortened season would apply to guy’s compensation, those things haven’t been spoken about yet with the CFL and I expect that to be a priority in terms of understanding what’s fair,” Elimimian said from his off-season home in Vancouver, BC.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo knows he’s in a more comfortable situation than most, having signed a two year contract in October. But he wonders about his teammates.
“Especially with the Canadian dollar also going down with the trend, you have to make some life decisions for your family. Do you wait up for football or make the tough decision to commit to a job or a career?”
Elimimian shares similar concerns, “None of us make millions of dollars and a lot of us look forward to the football season, not just how enjoyable it is, but as a place where we can make money.”
The CFLPA has a COVID-19 link on their site (CFLPA.com). It gives players access to financial training, mental health advice, and government information pertaining to the virus. Elimimian does say these challenging times have a silver lining.
“If this is going to bring us closer, if this is going to help us mobilize, and be better as a (players association) and how to serve our players, then that’s a good thing.”