Limits on Largesse
The CFL now has a salary cap, which of course will come as a surprise to those who thought it had a salary cap before.
But let's not go over that comedy sketch again.
The new cap is slightly more than $4 million per team, and it comes with a host of new penalties for going over the cap or otherwise trying to find innnovative ways around it, plus league executives whose job it will be to make sure every team is in compliance.
This has produced different responses from different teams.
The Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions are owned by David Braley, who, along with Montreal owner Bob Wetenhall, voted against the new salary cap measures.
When the cap police showed up at the Lions' offices to start examining what the team's payroll looked like, they were told to get lost.
Nope, can't see our books.
Then there's the Toronto Argonauts. A conservative estimate is with the likes of Damon Allen and Ricky Williams in the lineup, the Argos spent about $5 million on players last season.
Obviously they had some adjustments to make.
That's why you've seen a host of established Argo vets booted out the door in the past week.
Antonius Bonner. Eric England. Clifford Ivory. R. Jay Soward. Keith Stokes.
Some, like Soward, were likely gone anyway on the basis of their play last season.
But some had to go so the Argos could replace them with younger, cheaper players next season that would properly position the club under the salary cap.
So the Lions responded one way and the Argos another. One senses that the cap is going to be a matter of some conflict in the coming months. This time, instead of pitting teams like Montreal and B.C. against a commissioner like Tom Wright, it's going to see those teams locking horns with other teams like Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg.
Teams traditionally ignored the last salary cap too, until the league just gave up and decided to tell the world that what has been advertised as a a cap was actually a minimum.
It's likely the same abuses will occur this time unless swift measures are taken. With Wright officially history as of Jan. 1st, and no replacement in sight, it's hard to believe there will be the necessary leadership out of the CFL's head office to make the new rules stick.