Tuesday, April 5, 2016
UPDATE ON CFL CONGRESS, CFLPA MEETINGS
Not too many CFL fans are familiar with what goes on at Congress, so Pollock began with an explanation of the get-together.
"It's an opportunity for all different departments of all CFL teams to get together under one roof and meet eye-to-eye and just talk about different issues and opportunities which may have arisen from the previous season and look ahead to what may potentially be upcoming," Pollock explained. "The big goal is to promote professional and personal development whether it's best-practices and whatever things arise in all the markets."
Pollock was asked what their days consist of at their Toronto hotel.
"We get brought together and there are presentations for all staff and each department as well where the vision is shared as well as the strategic plan," Pollock noted. "There are guest speakers and people from within the league speaking in the morning and then we break off into specific groups like Communications, Ticketing, Community Relations and all the divisions. It's not only about us discussing things but we had a really good presenter today talk about Crisis Management and we get a chance to hear from people who've been through these things in their careers."
Pollock said the idea of the Congress isn't to address any ongoing emergencies in the CFL.
"There's not necessarily a ton of issues that arise at these meetings," Pollock admitted. "It's more about, for us, being able to put best-practices forward and get as much professional development as we can. When you get nine teams together in a room, and add in a 10th with the CFL as a league itself, our goal is always for the league to be seen in the best light as well as each team itself. Each market is different and ours is unique in that our fans want to dissect every piece of information available whereas some other teams have some challenges in that area. We're coming up with ways to create more of a media following.
"There's actual very little policy that gets talked about. The only time that comes up is if there's been a policy change, we cover how it affects us each as a team. To put it quite bluntly, there's no meetings here where we're changing policy. It's about making our league as best as it can be."
"Jeff has been involved with the Players Association for quite some time," Best said. "He's a smart guy, a Western (Ontario) guy, and Jeff has done a lot of great things for this union including with our Legal Counsel and the grievances we've had. Scott Flory did a lot of great things for this league, but it was a democratic process with a vote and Jeff was able to come away with winning the election."
One other noteworth item which came out of the Las Vegas meetings was the hiring of a new Executive Director for the CFLPA.
"We have a new Executive Director in Brian Ramsey, who played with the Edmonton Eskimos last year," Best reported. "He's going to retire and takeover the role to help the President out. With a President who's still playing in the league, he won't be able to handle all of that stuff. And we're also really excited about the Argos' Keon Raymond coming aboard as Second V.P. Having an American and a defensive player in there helps us out with our perspective because I know in the past they've talked about the Executive as being a bunch of Canadian offensive linemen so he'll help us out there."
Best further explained the role of imports on the CFLPA Executive.
"We had a bunch of American reps, and we've talked about this for years, but they said the Executive only represents half the league and they're absolutely right," Best maintained. "The time was right to make sure no matter how the votes go, an American would be on the board and have all voting power. We'll always have an American on the board to address the Americans' concerns because they have different issues than what we've been worried about."
Besides the election, Best said there were several other items discussed at Planet Hollywood.
"Right now, honestly, we're just focused on the next CBA which is coming up in the next couple of years," Best reported. "That's always one of our issues. Drug-testing is on the horizon and we're trying to address that. We want to have a fair and safe league. Those are really the two biggest things we're talking about right now. We talked about sponsorships, all of our grievances - both resolved and unresolved - and the state of the union financially. Obviously because it was an election year, that was a very important thing. We had some nine hour long days so guys were pretty beat by the end of the days. I went into the meetings thinking it would be a work trip and it truly was that."
SportsCage co-host Mike Abou-Mechrek asked Best if they perceive a problem with having an active CFL player fill the role of CFLPA President.
"There was some concern about that but Jeff addressed that really well," Best said. "The whole idea with the new Executive Director being Brian Ramsey is to handle a lot of the day-to-day stuff. In the past it was impossible to be the President as well as an active player so this is more of a supervisory role for him. Brian Ramsey will really be the one in the office handling the calls when you have an issue with a player. Ramsey wasn't interested in becoming the President. We had over a hundred candidates apply to be the Executive Director and we got that down to 20, and then we whittled it down to three. From that process, we picked Brian Ramsey because he's been our Treasurer and works as a full-time accountant in the off-season. He's going to resign from his accounting firm and dedicate himself full-time to this position."