Ambrose on being CFL commissioner, how it’s different from what people think, and some of the things he is proud of through his tenure.
“It’s not a traditional chief executive role because it doesn’t come with the same kind of authority that goes with a traditional command and control structure. You have to work with nine teams. You have to work with nine different points of view. There’s a lot of collaboration in this role, more than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.
You have to learn how to appreciate the opportunity for that collaboration to move the league forward. And frankly, I’d say if I look back now, having created a revenue sharing plan that has been absent in the CFL for four-plus decades, having helped to create this new relationship with Genius Sports with this business we call CFL Ventures… Then one of the longest collective bargaining terms in CFL history and a win win.
I actually think we’ve created through that collaboration, we’ve created a whole new foundation for the league’s long term success. “
He talks about the CFL’s revenue-sharing model and players’ guaranteed contracts.
” I think the revenue growth sharing is to me that was something that we were talking about with the governors going all the way back to 2018 and 2019, because in my mind, that creates a partnership between us and the players.
I’m also really happy for the players in the second contract and beyond. They got an opportunity for guaranteed contracts. I think that’s going to create roster stability. I’m excited that we’ve got a provision for some mental health care.
I think the extension of our medical plan benefits. Those are things that are really good news for the players and I’m excited about.”
Ambrose talks about the ratio rule as part of the new CBA and how he is trying to incentivize American players who are part of their communities in Canada.
“You know that the game is often one of the most challenging issues is injuries. So this is going to create some roster flexibility. But one of the features of being able to nationalize an American player is that it will reward those players for staying on our teams and living in our communities, which is a hallmark of the CFL and has been for decades.
So I think the positive side, the real positive side is that it will reward some of our American players for their commitment to our teams and communities. That’s positive. And it’s going to create some roster continuity for our fans. And then, ultimately, it will give our coaches roster flexibility. Those three things. That’s the perfect trifecta. “
He talks about trying to break the stigma that Canadian players are only good enough to play in the CFL because the ratio rule protects them.
“I think we can all say, watching the development of Canadian athletes, there are 24 Canadians now on NFL rosters, the most in history. Canadian athletes are succeeding in every sport in the world.
Andrew Wiggins is playing in the NBA Finals in the NHL. Some of the best players in the NHL playoffs are Canadians. Canadian athletes and football players are more than capable of competing.
In fact, in some ways, what we’re trying to do here is to kind of break down that stigma that Canadians for Canadians to play in the Canadian Football League, they have to be protected.
Frankly, I don’t believe that. I think Canadians, through the course of the history of our League are proven…. I could just go on and on about all the players that I played with and that I know are some of the greatest players in CFL history, and I know they were more than capable of competing with or without ratio.
I think we frankly, need to change that narrative that Canadians are in the Canadian Football League because they’re great football players, not because they’re protected by a ratio.”
Lots to this interview, he talks about MLSE and Larry Tanenbaum, CFL expansion, talks with the XFL, Genius Sports, and more.
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