Montreal Alouettes fullback Spencer Moore isn’t hopeful the CFL will have a 2020 season.
League action was originally scheduled to begin Thursday night but remains suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has said the earliest a season could begin is September, and that a cancelled campaign is also possible.
Diminishing Moore’s optimism was a revelation Thursday by Brian Ramsay. The CFL Players’ Association executive director said the union has been waiting 10 weeks for information from the league and has received no direction from it regarding an abbreviated season.
Ambrosie has often stated talks between the league and players regarding the 2020 season are ongoing.
“I don’t want to sit here and say they weren’t working on things over those 10 weeks,” Spencer said Friday. “But not having communication (with CFLPA) and updating us as players as to what’s going on, it doesn’t leave me particularly confident they can get this (shortened season) done.
“I understand the complexities and seriousness of this issue. But the fact is we should be able to know what exactly is being done in order to either get a season done or prepare if we aren’t going to have a season. This matters to hundreds, thousands of people.”
Moore was among a host of CFL players who voiced their displeasure with the league on social media Thursday.
“It sort of felt like the last straw for me,” said Moore. ”The most frustrating part is I understand this is a difficult time for everyone and the massive amount of hoops the league has to jump through in order to get something rolling.
“It just really bothers me there hasn’t been that open line of communication that I think, as players, we deserve at the very least. People ask me every day, ‘Hey, what’s the news? Is there any update?’ I always say to them, ‘You guys will know when we know because we don’t have that great a relationship with the league,’ and that’s been even more apparent lately.”
The six-foot-four, 230-pound Moore is preparing for his second season with Montreal and eighth in the CFL. The 29-year-old Hamilton native has appeared in 97 career regular-season games with Saskatchewan (2013-2018) and the Alouettes, having registered 34 receptions for 281 yards and one carry for six yards.
In March, Moore and his wife became first-time home owners. For the last month, he’s been working in landscape construction while awaiting word if there’ll be a CFL season.
Moore said it’s up to each player to individually determine if/when it’s no longer economically feasible to return to the field in 2020. If there’s a season, Moore will return to Montreal but adds the current uncertainty has him thinking now about a second career as a firefighter.
“Everyone knows how fickle this game is, it can be taken away from you at any point,” Moore said. “This situation has sort of forced my hand into starting to prepare for that next career even sooner than I thought I was going to.
“I love playing but if an opportunity arises for my next career, that’s going to be something I’ll have to sit down with my wife and have a serious conversation about … stability is a huge, huge thing, especially having a family.”
The players’ reaction comes more than a month after Ambrosie was criticized by several Members of Parliament for not including the players in the league’s request for financial assistance from the federal government. Ramsay also said Thursday when the CFL announced it was allowing teams to reopen their practice facilities, the union was consulted after the fact.
The CFL and CFLPA have had an acrimonious relationship since January 2018 when — roughly a year before the two were to start contract talks — the league told clubs to stop paying players’ off-season bonuses until a new deal was reached.
Although the two sides agreed on a three-year CBA in May 2019, it came after the union held a strike vote and told players not to report to training camps without a signed agreement.
“As players and a players’ union, this is the stuff we deal with every time we to go the negotiation table,” said Moore. ”It’s bully tactics from the league and it’s them playing on the fact they know guys will play.
“It (not paying off-season bonuses) didn’t set a good precedent then and it’s showing even moreso now that we’re consistently looked at as the least important factor in the running of the league.”
Thursday’s revelation certainly won’t help the tenuous CFL-CFLPA relationship but Moore said it was important for the players to make their frustrations known.
“I think we have to call it as it is to salvage something,” Moore said. “We want to play but I want people to know we do understand the gravity of the situation.
“We’re just asking to be kept in the loop, that’s it. I don’t think we’re asking for anything that’s unfair or anything that as employees we shouldn’t be privy to.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press