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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ANNUNZIATA BLASTS CFL COMMISSIONER

Two-time Grey Cup champion offensive lineman and current Toronto Argonauts broadcaster Sandy Annunziata of TSN 1050 Toronto came out swinging in an interview on 620 CKRM's SportsCage in Regina on Monday.  The 11-year CFL veteran explained the growing unrest amongst Toronto football types regarding the Argos' treatment by Rogers and Rogers Centre, the homefield of the club.

The Argos have been forced out of Rogers Centre on multiple occasions during the 2015 season due to conflicting stadium dates, including back-to-back "home" games in Weeks 17 and 18.

"Let's put it this way; they've played 13 of their 16 games on the road," Annunziata reported.  "You want to encapsulate how weird of a situation this is.  I'm all for quirkiness and the CFL is all about quirkiness.  You got these great stories from the 1950's and 1960's.  I mean someone almost drowned in the 1950's in the Mud Bowl.  But this is anything but quirkiness.

"To have your home opener in Fort MacMurray, to have five games in the Rogers Centre only to be told 'Sorry we can't accomodate the Argonauts despite the lease.  We have first right of refusal to kick you out' and don't give it a second thought.  These are these corporate decisions that leave a bad taste in my mouth."

The frustation in Annunziata's voice was clearly evident and he's made his feelings known recently on social media which led to Monday's appearance in the SportsCage.

"I think it comes from me being a part of that locker room for so long and understanding the challenges involved with being a professional football player, notwithstanding the incredible amount of stress and anxiety thrust upon this Argo locker room," Annunziata continued.  "I'm disappointed that the individual responsible for growing the brand, strengthening the brand, protecting the brand, by his deafening silence is allowing a 143-year old tradition in Toronto, one of the flagships of the CFL, to be marginalized and minimized.

"I'm talking about the Commissioner specifically and I have nothing against Jeffrey Orridge.  He was brought in as a marketing guru to resurrect and to help strengthen the brand but he's done anything but that in Toronto."

I asked Sandy if he were Commissioner, how would he address the untenable situation?

"There's a way to address the situation," Annunziata said.  "Maybe a strongly-worded letter saying you don't agree with the decision.  There's a way to take the high road because let's face it; that's what the CFL has always done.  It has always capitulated and been accomodating to the four other major sports properties in the City of Toronto.  At some point you'd think the head of the CFL, the Commissioner, would stand up for the integrity and stand up for the collective rights of those 50 football players, those hard-working coaches and that skeleton crew they have running the Toronto front office.

"You'd think he'd be an ally in their frustration.  Maybe a sounding board for them or a mouthpiece for them.  There's ways to do it without totally alienating Rogers and that sports property.  It sends a loud message if he comes out and speaks for the Argos and their staff that we don't like this decision.  We're not going to sit idly by and take it.  But just to not say anything, his silence speaks volumes that the Toronto Argonauts have been allowed to be treated this way by not only Rogers Centre but also Rogers as a corporation."

Despite their nomadic struggles, the Argonauts are tied for second-place in the CFL East at 9-6.  I asked Sandy if the adversity has affected the football club, including Saturday's 27-15 loss to Calgary in Hamilton.

"You'll never get this out of (head coach) Scott Milanovich or anyone out of that locker room," Annunziata continued.  "They're paid to win games so they'd never use these situations as an excuse and that's just a sign of professionalism.  God bless everyone of those Toronto Argonauts who refuses to discuss it in the media because that's just not their job.  That's up to people like me who don't have a stake in the game and I'll speak on behalf of those guys and say yeah, it does have an effect.

"To see Trevor Harris in the first half, it wasn't Trevor Harris.  I don't know what Toronto Argonauts team showed up but it wasn't the Toronto Argonauts team we've seen work so efficiently through the adversity through two-thirds of the season.  Am I gonna say it didn't have an effect?  Well let me put it to you this way; Toronto's playing Calgary in Hamilton.  That's just a very quirky situation and it's a very sterile environment that we saw Saturday night.  3401 fans?  That's not typical."

The Argonauts "host" the Montreal Alouettes this Friday night at Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

ooohhh a strongly worded letter that and 2 bucks will get you a coffee. rogers could buy every cfl team and fold the league in a blink of an eye if it wanted to. suck it up buttercup!!! lol

Anonymous said...

God Bless him, finally someone who tells the truth and it has to come from a former football player. Why isn't the media all over this story. Someone needs to put the commissioner on the spot and grill him. Tell me why he was hired as commissioner?

John Waynes saddle sores

Anonymous said...

The commissioner is a spineless SOB and hair on Sandy Annunziata for saying so. It's really refreshing to see a sports reporter that isn't kissing a$$. It doesn't happen in Regina.

PS; there is nothing Rogers in my house and there never will be.

Go Argos Go

Parkside said...

Rogers does a well enough job making themselves look bad during this.
Trying to capitalize off the Blue Jays success. With their Canada's Team commercials.
People love the Blue Jays, not Rogers.

Anonymous said...

Why not interview Rick Foley soon. The man who should still be a Rider

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that all the Argo's fans belly ache about getting to Skydome yet 49000 Jays fans don't find it an issue.

They get the opportunity to go to a "better" football field an still don't bother.

When is Toronto ever going to figure out the NFL isn't coming!!!

Anonymous said...

Well and in my opinion Roger's is killing the NHL broadcast wise. The personalities are painful to watch. It's all negative all the time. We have games every night occurring and nothing on their 4 channels but poker, wrestling and reruns.

What attracts me to the TSN broadcasts is their positive, have fun spin. Sportsnet/Rogers, never seems fun. Almost never is positive.

Add to their, we own it, screw you, you have to watch us attitude.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Anon #7. Rogers/CBC are nauseating.

Anonymous said...

Hey a Argo fan who knew they had those?

Go Jays Go

Anonymous said...

Regarding the election...

Hopefully everyone feels a weight lifted off their shoulders as, today, that dark and divisive form of fear and hate approach, is finally gone.

To the Saskatchewan right wing folks... it is the year 2015, not 1950. It's time to embrace change and try to live life more positive. As the new Prime Minister said, "Sunny Ways" (google it).

X marks the spot!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you go back into your hole buddy!? Sports fans like you should have to stay home and clean the house or something. ...sheesh!

Anonymous said...

How can the Argos be more competitive than the riders with all the distractions and lack of support for them? The riders have everything yet still suck. Oops forgot the riders starting qb went down but then so did the Argos. I'm confused, how can the riders suck so much?

Anonymous said...

Happy days are here again ... teed a le a hear I aye.
Happy days are here again
Altogether shout it it out now
Happy times
Happy nights
Happy days
Are here again!

Anonymous said...

It is less than 30 miles from Toronto to Hamilton. Argo fans would have a very real reason to bitch if more an a couple of thousand from a city of 3 1/2 million actually showed the same amount of support as folks driving in from Balgonie to see the riders.
Don't blame Rogers, blame Bell/TSN. They haven't done a thing to make that team or league in Toronto viable. No advertising around Toronto or the stadium, no placing games on CTV to wider audiences. No investment at all. Easy to blame Rogers but alot of the games Toronto missed were because of the Pan Am games and have nothing to do with the Blue Jays or Rogers at all. The city provincial and federal governments invested millions to bring these games to the city and there was no way in hell they were going to pause the games to roll out the 110 yard turf. Or blame evil Rogers I don't care ~Steven

Jarrett said...

On a typical day, the drive to Hamilton on the QEW is 6-8 lanes, bumper to bumper, full of starts & stops, with an average speed of 40 km/h. It's far from the pleasant, carefree drive, you experience for a trip in to Moose Jaw.

Also... it's Hamilton. Fans in Hamilton HATE Toronto. At the game on Saturday, my friend's family was assaulted by a Ti-Cat fan with a cowbell. Other fans are drunk and rude. A loud vocal minority to be sure, but they still make for an unpleasant experience.

Now let's talk about Skydome. Blue Jays banners everywhere as you approach the stadium. You order a beer, you're drinking it out of a Blue Jays cup. You sit row 10 on the 55 yard line and you can't even see the field, because the stadium is designed for baseball sight lines. You stand up to yell and cheer, and Skydome security is on your ass for making a ruckus.

Argo fans are constantly being treated like 2nd class citizens – and the team still draws 18,000-20,000 per game – in a market with zillion other options for the entertainment dollar.

Cut Argo fans some slack. They love the CFL. They and their 147 year-old franchise deserve a little respect. Give 'em a proper football stadium, with proper football sight lines, and a game day experience where they can be loud and proud.

I predict average game-day attendance in excess of 25,000 next season at BMO Field.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Hamilton fan, but if the situation were reversed I'd be frustrated and disappointed. I think Sandy is right on the money and he isn't belittling anyone here, he's asking for the backing of the head of the business...All too often people accept these high-paying jobs to be the head of an organization, yet sit around collecting money and doing nothing to support their employees...I say start talking to the colleges and universities in TO and see if they'd be willing hosts, screw Rogers!

Doug Philpott said...

Sandy,

David Braley has been running this franchise like a five and dime store the last couple of seasons until he sold it earlier this year. The Rogers Centre and the Argos had virtually "free field rental" agreement in place with all these ifs, ands and buts in place if Jays went into the playoffs. Yes it would be expensive for the Argos to change numerous times in just 24-hour periods the venue from baseball to football and back to baseball again for the team's first three of five final home games

Argos would have been happy with the Jays not making the playoffs and then the club's five final home games and the possible home playoff contest (barring other venue event rentals) could have been played with no additional costs for game day venue changeovers from baseball to football other than sprucing up the on the on-field markings and sideline signage game-to-game.

Lets give the new ownership (MLSE and Tannenbaum) and the change of venue to BMO Field a clean slate for the 2016 Canadian Football League schedule.

A winning team playing in front of possible sellout crowds of around 28,000 with fans experiencing an entertaining time while actually paying a value-received price for tickets that would give the franchise a chance to turn a reasonable profit and that would be refreshing.

Converting the venue around from baseball to football back to baseball can all be done in less than 24 hours as it has been done for decades in the past. It is just really expensive. Today is Wednesday (Oct. 21st) and the Argos were scheduled to play this Friday at home. If the Jays win two on the road there still would be lots of time to turn the venue around again, but I don't think with the short time frame the Argos were willing to spend the extra bucks to do so, not even for its current season subscriber base or anticipated "walk up" crowd that would come to a game in Toronto, but not truck off to Hamilton or Ottawa for Double Blue "home" games.

Sandy, the Argos and the CFL are professional franchise to be run as profit making businesses, investing dollars to make more dollars.