January 22, 2021
To the CFL Family:
We just wanted to check in and let you know how we’re doing. But most of all, we want you to know we’re thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing.
There’s no getting around it: this can feel like a dark time. Some of us are in “lock down”, most of us feel cooped up. It’s easy to feel down or get worked up.
But here’s the thing: I strongly believe 2021 is the year we transition back to something that feels normal. I’m feeling positive. And we at the CFL are optimistic about the year ahead.
We’re all human. We can all feel our mood shift a bit with each new headline. But here’s our bottom line: we plan to play CFL football this year, and lots of it. We just need to hunker down and get through this Winter first.
As we’ve said for months, you can help by following the guidelines in your area. I talk to government and health officials often; they’re hopeful, too, but they want us to remind you that we need to pull together.
Here at the CFL, we’re watching closely the pace of the virus, and the progress of the vaccination efforts. And they will ultimately affect our ability to get our great players back on the field – and our wonderful fans back in the stands. We’re in constant communication with medical experts. We’re working to be ready when public health officials give us the green light.
But we are determined to play.
We are also working hard with the CFLPA – the players, our partners in this great league. We are committed to ensuring that we build our plans for 2021, for the future in collaboration with the Players’ Association and their members.
We love and miss our game. We love and miss our players, our fans, our partners. And we love and miss showcasing the CFL.
We know the CFL is a significant part of Canadian life.
It’s more than just another sport, or another product. It’s ours, part of our country’s DNA. It has always stood for community. No group of athletes do more to help sick kids or bullied ones, or to teach young boys that respect for women is a requisite for real manhood, or to help stock our food banks. Our clubs’ community work may be more visible in our smaller markets, but it’s significant everywhere we play – and every place that we visit.
It’s also true that the CFL brings Canadians together in a powerful and unique way. It encourages us to look to the west or the east, instead of always looking south. It makes for intense, but friendly rivalries that cross city and provincial boundaries. Its’ power to unite is most obvious at Grey Cup, when millions of Canadians take time out to watch our biggest game, enjoy at halftime the country’s largest show. Thousands more, from every corner of the country, gather in person, to hoist a beer, embrace an old friend, and celebrate our game and our country, and what they mean to one another. And we all feel pride by the day’s national symbols: the Canadian military’s flyover before the game, the Mounties delivering the Grey Cup trophy as it ends, and the Cup itself, a monument to Canadian resilience and resolve.
Canada needs the CFL, perhaps now more than ever. And we need all of you in the CFL family: our dedicated fans, tremendous players, loyal partners, dedicated staff and selfless volunteers.
So, please, hang in there. Let’s be clear eyed about where things are today. Please be careful to protect yourselves, your family, your community. But we ask you to do something else, too: please look forward, to when we’re back on the field, back at the stadium, and together again at Grey Cup.
Some positivity and optimism will help us get there sooner and stronger.
The next time we rise for the anthem before a CFL game, or on Grey Cup Sunday, and we sing about the True North Strong and Free, we’ll do so knowing we are finally freeing ourselves from this terrible virus, and we were strong enough to get through the tough times. And how great will that be?
I’ve always believed in that old saying, that it is always darkest before the dawn. Please know the light is coming, for Canada, the CFL and the entire CFL Family.