Adam Bighill and Zach Collaros believe there is a desperate need for an improvement in the relationship between the CFL and its players for the league to thrive again when, and if, play resumes in 2021.
Both stars, key members of Winnipeg’s drive to a Grey Cup championship last fall, said valuable time was wasted as the CFL maneuvered to adjust to the COVID-19 crisis and salvage the 2020 season.
On Monday, the league’s board of governors voted to scrap plans for a reduced regular season and playoffs, which would have used Winnipeg as a hub city.
The death blow to this plan came last week when the federal government spurned the league’s request for an interest-free $30-million loan that was to be used to stem the tide and make a season possible.
“If you look at it players are disappointed that we’ve really kind of gotten strung along so far without, you know, a lot of information,” said Bighill in a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning. “I think the reason for that is, you know, we didn’t start the negotiations early enough.
“We didn’t get to the table in March and start drafting our plans together. The CFL went to the government without us… That didn’t help our cause because we were asking for money with no plan. They asked, ‘What’s your plan?’ and that’s something we should have done together so we had answers.”
Collaros, a 31-year-old quarterback with eight CFL seasons on his resume, said prompt action is needed.
“It’s kind of a microcosm of how this pandemic has been handled, you know, from leadership in North America,” said Collaros. “You know the transparency’s not there. The communication hasn’t been great. And you know that needs improvement forward if ’21 is going to be successful.”
Bighill, a 31-year-old five-time league all-star, said the players felt left out of the process and it showed, hampering negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
“It has to be a better working relationship for league partners because right now we haven’t been treated as partners,” he said. “We’ve been treated, you know, come to the table and talk when we want you to. Where it’s clearly not working for us.”
A more co-operative relationship should be helpful, Bighill said.
“We need to work better together as league and player reps (and) players union to be able to make this product better,” he said. “I mean, (commissioner) Randy (Ambrosie) has said it multiple times — the business model has been broken. So how do we fix it?…
“Those are things that need to be addressed. I mean, we had time to do that.”
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
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