CFL Presidents, General Managers and Commissioner Randy Ambrosie are meeting in Banff, AB to discuss a variety of hot topics in the 2018 off-season.
It's the first time the media has been invited to attend these meetings and there were representatives on hand from TSN, Post Media, Global TV, the Canadian Press, CFL.ca, CHQR Calgary and CKRM Regina. CKRM broadcast Wednesday's SportsCage from the Banff Springs Hotel.
Among the topics are growing the business of the CFL and turning it into big business, player safety and general tweaks to the game to improve flow.
Ambrosie - overseeing his first such get-together as Commissioner since being hired on July 4 - says overall, the CFL is in tremendous shape. He brought that message to the GMs, along with one other.
"They're just not built to be satisfied and we should have that same attitude as it relates to the business side of our game. There are things that we can do better as a league. I asked them to wear two different hats; you're going to come into these meetings wearing your comfortable team hat that you love, but I'm asking you to wear a CFL hat when you come to these meetings.
"Let's think together about how to grow this game and this league. Everyone benefits when the teams are stronger. Everyone benefits when the league is stronger. I see this amazing group of men embracing that."
Ambrosie agreed that this is a new line of thinking for CFL General Managers.
"I think it is new to them but these are really smart people. They get it," Ambrosie continued. "First you have to explain the problem you're trying to solve. Nobody wants to be told to do something. You need to invite them to be a part of the solution. I'm hoping that's what they're hearing from me because that's genuinely what I mean. I'm asking them to help grow the game. I'll define to them our challenges and then I'll ask them for what they think we can do. That's always the best recipe."
Kent Austin is representings the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as V.P. of Football Operations and said the meetings have been fruitful.
"It's great," Austin said. "I'm on all the committees and I feel honoured to have that participation. Any input I can have is great but I also like hearing from everybody. None of us have all the answers but hopefully collectively we can come up with answers that make the league better. We want to make it more competitive and attractive in all areas."
Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters agreed that the GMs are accomplishing a lot in the Rocky Mountains.
"Real good," Walters told the SportsCage. "It's the first time to sit down with the new Commissioner because it was a whirlwind when he took over. It was exciting to hear his vision, and from such a passionate guy. We all want to get behind his ideas and support him.
Walters explained the chain-of-command and flow of information this week in Banff.
"Mr. Ambrosie's already met with the Presidents and Governors in greater detail so now he's brought it to the GMs and asked 'What are we missing?', 'What's your point of view?' At the forefront of all of our discussions is player safety because that's such a key issue at all levels of football.
"How do we make the game safer for the players and have it translate down to minor football? How do we get parents to see that this is a safe game? What are your thoughts on moving the season up and what are the hurdles if we decide to do this? It's been a great information-sharing session."
NOTES: Halifax expansion was not discussed ... Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland revealed he's had discussions with free agent QB Kevin Glenn about filling their #2 spot ... Miles Gorrell has been hired as Director of Scouting with the Montreal Alouettes.