CFL to go to 21 week schedule in 2018, eliminate padded practices

The CFL and CFLPA have announced that the league will go to a 21-week schedule – thereby adding a third bye week for each team – as well as eliminate shoulder pads from all practices after training camp.

The news was first reported by 3DownNation.

The schedule changes will take effect in 2018 while the shoulders pad ban happens immediately.

Teams were previously allowed to hold a total of 17 padded practices following training camp. In the NFL, clubs can have 11 padded practices over the first 11 weeks of the season, a maximum of one per week. After that, clubs can have three more padded practices for a total of 14 on the year.

Teams will still play an 18 game schedule it will just spread over 21 weeks. The impact of when he the CFL season starts and finishes has yet to be determined.

“It’s impossible to exactly project the precise impact until teams have submitted their available stadium dates for 2018 and a schedule is put in place,” the league said in a release. “Preliminary modelling suggests the number of short weeks (teams playing on less than six days of rest) could be cut by two-thirds.”

The moves are being touted as an effort to improve player safety, something that’s been of increasing concern for both the league and players’ association.

“I said when I was appointed commissioner that their safety was my number one priority. I want to thank the CFLPA for working with me to introduce these changes,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in statement. “As a former player, I understand this issue from the players’ perspective and will continue to work with our players on matters of player safety.”

The CFL and the CFLPA made the changes official during an online announcement Wednesday afternoon.

– with files from CP.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (790 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

66 Comments on CFL to go to 21 week schedule in 2018, eliminate padded practices

  1. Are they going to start a week early? The Grey Cup could end up being played in December if not. That’s not football playing weather.

  2. white stallion in red // September 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm //

    Wow.. so will the season starts sooner or end later? …practice without pads. Not sure if that’s good or bad. What are the players giving up for the extra bye?

  3. Gerald Fildebrandt // September 13, 2017 at 3:10 pm //

    What is the advantage or gain here?

    • Eddy Rayner // September 13, 2017 at 3:17 pm //

      Hopefully easier on the players bodies … less contact, more rest = healthier players with less injuries. Pretty sure almost all teams have complained about injury issues (rightfully so) over the last couple of years. Fans win if the league is putting their best players forward due to fewer injuries. Potentially everyone wins.

  4. Bad idea on both counts. If you start earlier, the first week viewership will be clobbered by the Stanley Cup final should it go to six-plus games; if instead you add the week at the end you’re playing in December, which might be okay in BC but will be miserable in Edmonton.

    And practising tackling fundamentals is very important, both to be effective on game day and to be safe and injury free during the season. There’s way too much sloppy tackling already and players get hit with stupid penalties for headshots, horse-collar tackles, facemasks – and sometimes injure their colleagues through those same actions. You’re not going to be able to practise the technique, even on tackling dummies, without wearing the right equipment.

    • Miserable in Edmonton??? Its colder and windier in Regina and Winnipeg in the fall & winter!

      • Maybe so – my memories of Commonwealth were from its grass-and-mud days and I recall the players on the sidelines looking very sorry for themselves by the fourth quarter. But the prairies got turf before Edmonton did.

  5. The biggest gain is the shoulder pads not being used at practice. That should cut down some injuries to receivers and RB’s. It’s worth a try.

  6. Johnny Blumpkin // September 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm //

    What is an extra week supposed to accomplish?

  7. white stallion in red // September 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm //

    For players that live in the states of other places in Canada it’s another week if expenses. For teams it’s another week of operation with no extra revenue.
    I guess this is a player safety issue

  8. Practicing without pads. We’ll watch the injuries go up on game day.

  9. Time for that 10th US based team……straightens out the bye scheduling and builds the brand internationally. Remember it was a US team that led in attendance back in the day. Surely the CFL could use a financially stable franchise? Some good US markets available these days.

    • We all remember how the last US expansion turned out, not going to happen again. The CFL as a league is much stronger now than it was in the 90’s. Also the US based teams did not have to adhere to the national/international ratio creating a unfair advantage,

      • I wonder if the league could stick a team in Anchorage (pop. 300k, cf. Regina pop. 240k) and declare Alaskan-born players nationals for the purposes of the ratio, including if they get traded to Canadian teams. No other major sports league has a presence in that market. And the same details that handicap Canadian NHL teams (earnings in CAD but must pay salaries in USD) would work in reverse here – the team would earn mostly USD but players would be paid CAD so that cross-border trades would be possible without changing the player’s contract.

        BC would finally have a natural geographic rival on the Pacific coast, since the next-nearest (Calgary) team’s rivalries are with Edmonton and Saskatchewan.

        And at least it makes more sense than Shreveport.

    • “Remember it was a US team that led in attendance back in the day.”

      Remember that for the most part, the other ones had brutal attendance figures. Pass.

      • One word: Argonauts

        I am talking one team…not a whole division….and of course all CFL rules would apply.

        Fire up the Atlantic Schooner then if you can…..must be seaworthy after what…30 years?

  10. From a player safety perspective: love it
    As a fan of the CFL: love it and hate it. Less wait for a new season is nice. But professionals need to practice tackling as well. Wish it could’ve perhaps moved to a bi-weekly (every two weeks) basis regarding padded practices…

  11. white stallion in red // September 13, 2017 at 4:10 pm //

    True one less week of off season!!!

  12. The season should start a month earlier. The Stanley Cup final is played every other day – easy to schedule around. I’d rather have games played in May/June than Oct/Nov.

    • I wonder if you are onto something with more armor weather games if possible…wonder if attendance figures would prove that out?

  13. I say we should just go with touch football no pads necessary. And hey it would be awesome two watch the grey cup Christmas morning. Lol

    • That league already exists…..Lingerie Football League. It could think of some funny but racy franchise names for the Canadian teams! Would be funny to start a list? .but I know we have lots of lady fans on here also so I will punt on that.

      • JC and Brent: you guys are very cavalier about the safety of others.
        So while you are both yukking it up and making fun of the CFL, you missed the part about the Players Association which supports the idea of no shoulder pads at practice.
        Their concerns matter….. and if it helps reduce injuries, that’s a good thing.If it doesn’t work then go back to the pads at practices.

      • How about Flag Football? With all the stupid rules the CFL has it is becoming boring to watch. Toronto can’t even fill half their stadium, good thing M.L.S owns the team.

  14. I see no downside, at some point we manage to watch hockey, baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis…..and so on. Most often overlapping. One more week of CFl won’t disrupt anyone’s life, use your PVR. Safety is the issue, healthy players will save $$$ and improve the games. As for risky tackling likely penalties and fines will be increased to avert that. Remember at one time there was almost no protection for QB’s,facemasking, horse collar tackles, hitting the punt/kick receiver and so on. All sports are moving in this way, they just announced it so boldly. This is a proactive step. If you watch archived games in almost any sport you will see how deaconian they were. In short we are already watching a watered down game and manage to enjoy it.

  15. Good God, I’m all for it, but CFL please be wise with this matter. START THE CFL REGULAR SEASON EARLIER FOR GOSH SAKES. I’m one of the 45-year veterans, with season tickets for nearly 20 years. And we don’t want to freeze our fannies off in the middle of December. If need be, we will simply cancel our season tickets. As well, the Grey Cup should be played for fan and player enjoyment, not freezing in the stands with adverse conditions at the end of November. So our league, please get it right.

  16. Mantis Toboggan // September 13, 2017 at 5:17 pm //

    Hey i know why not just go back to a 16 game schedule.Then you could even end the season a week or two earlier. We all know why $$$$$.If it was about player safety they stop playing 2 games in 5 days garbage.Isn’t Tsn losing Nhl games they need to fill slots $$$$$

    • I can’t believe your whining about the cold weather. The NFL just started the season and play till February, in Buffalo, Chicago, Pittsburgh and so on and they fill a stadium with over 50,000 people every game. Toughen up.

  17. And furthermore, I’ve discussed this previous, but what would be so wrong to have the CFL schedule altered to have Labour Day weekend played at the three-quarter mark of the season when games have more meaning than the half-way mark as is the norm? Of course with this, the CFL season would conclude a month earlier. Or even have Labour Day set a few weeks further on the schedule so the season concludes in the early-middle part of November?

    And please, no excuses with NHL playoffs, etc. The NHL overextends its season by at least a month. For that matter, a lot of NHL fans don’t have the time and day during summer to watch playoffs on ice that should’ve ended much sooner (actually, an embarrassment for the NHL that the league fails to recognize). I would mention, that the NFL season starting in September, hurts our league just as much as the NHL playoffs do in May and early-June.

    So, Mr. Ambrosie, you and your board of directors, please get it right!!!

  18. So much breaking news today, Firing of Chappy in Montreal, now CFL going from 18 week to 21 game schedule, that`s what the headline suggested to me, I bought it hook line and sinker

  19. I get player safety butips aren’t they getting a little carried away ? Already have a Kinder, gentler sport I can’t stand – it’s called soccer.

    As for a longer season and extra bye week, unless the season starts earlier we are FUBAR. It’s Canada here folks, what the hell are you thinking – Grey Cup on December 25th ? Would make for some interesting tailgating though…….

  20. That’s funny my spell check has COVFEFE in it ????

  21. Player safety is obviously of utmost importance but practicing with no pads?? This isn’t flag or lingerie football…what’s next? The CFL is starting to become a joke. I’ve avoided the NFL like the plague but I’m going to have to start to get into it because football is a contact sport not fricking ballet. why does every administration think they need to f**k with was was a great league.

    • Dundas dude // September 13, 2017 at 11:33 pm //

      Because people are sustaining long term injuries. I love football but if it does not adapt to our increased knowledge of brain injuries, football will go the way of jousting. I’m a libertarian who believes people should have the freedom to do what they want to their bodies, but I sure as hell ain’t gonna support a sport that inflicts pain and suffering on those who play it. We need to figure out how to protect these young men, or there isn’t gonna be football in a few decades.

      • Goes back to the fundamentals of football where a player was wrapping up, or helmet to numbers. Nowadays players go for the highlight reel hits and launch helmet or shoulder first. The circus hits either result in HUGE impact to the players (usually both) or the “big hit” is an epic failure resulting in large gains.

    • All of Western Civilization is on a demasculinization kick…seems to me being pushed top down……look at all the transgender stuff….had you even heard of transgender before Caitlin? Such a small percentage of the population yet everywhere I look in the media…bam there it is…makes me wonder?
      Football is but one battle in this ongoing cultural war.
      Noting against transgender per se…..just can’t figure out how/why it has become such a cause celeb of late? Almost seems like an agenda

  22. Great decision.
    Another weekend of CFL football is one less weekend I have to spend with my wife.

  23. HTC, harsh, I hope Ms. HTC doesn’t make post on 3D Network, perhaps she goes by the name butips.

  24. white stallion in red // September 13, 2017 at 9:48 pm //

    Mr Ambrosie is getting over zealous. He’s been commissioner a very short time and already done so many impactfull things. I wonder if he’s thinking it all through. Quality not quantity.

  25. justforkicks // September 13, 2017 at 10:23 pm //

    Slightly off topic but still fits with how the scheduling is arrived at – why was Winnipeg made a permanent West team. There was a time when they switched year to year. It might improve the Eastern profile to have them. Then again this year they would be so far ahead. Just wondering.

    • There needs to be a 10th team……either launch the Schooner…..or place that 10th franchise in a preferred US market.

  26. Lancaster/Reed // September 13, 2017 at 11:52 pm //

    The extra week off should eliminate the reason for any team to play 3 games in 11-12 days. Those 3 games are extremely hard on the players, and would not be surprised if the number of injuries spike in that time frame.

    • Great comment!
      I kinda like your username too.

    • Paul Bomber // September 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm //

      Can’t have a U.S. team unless you let them ignore the Canadian ratio rules. I’d like 10 teams too… makes a ton of issues go away, but it’s not worth it if it means a team in the U.S.
      It’s not that Canucks can’t get work visas, but the ratio rule isn’t supported by NAFTA and it would take one lawsuit and 14 seconds for a court order to blow this up. “There is a better American available to do this job, but you must hire a foreigner, and likely at a premium”? Not going to happen.

      • Yes….ALL rules would need to be enforced…including the can-con…..even if I disagree with it in some senses.
        I am not a lawyer but maybe there is some sort of exemption that can be had. Or maybe when Trump dumps NAFTA or whatever it is they are taking about doing ( I don’t pay much attention to all that noise)….it might change….but again any team in the CFL needs to play by CFL rules in play at that time period.
        I know it’s a pipe dream…i think it would solve a lot of the problems of which you speak and would strengthen the CFL. We live in different times than the 90s; some of these changes particularly around media make it more possible for CFL international success. I know some are more emphasis on C…..I am more emphasis on F…..
        It’s there fo the taking should it ever become necessary.

  27. All new stadiums or as when it is necessary to redo a major repair to the artificial turf, it should be mandatory to revert back to natural grass. Or at last have a natural grass practice field. Much safer, with today’s technology larg or small grass repairs are possible.

  28. @justforkicks Wpg is a Western team. They switched to the east on 3 separate occasions 87-94, 97-01 & 06-13 all due to the loss or an eastern team ( Ott Roughrider’s/ Renegades and Mlt Alouette’s/ Concords) Wpg also was in the Northern division for a couple years during the US (BLUH) misadventure. They weren’t alternating yearly, but forced to keep a balanced division

    • justforkicks // September 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm //

      Thanks Blue Rules! My mistaken memory. I love the CFL but am not really a great study of the rules and so forth.

  29. Why not just give them golf clubs and have tournaments, elimination rounds to see who starts the next week. Another nail in the coffin of a declining league. I thought this new commish would be better but it is obvious he is just as bad as the last three. Get the coaches to stop teaching going in with their heads, tuck and hit with shoulder. Look at the turfs, how many serious non contact injuries have their been in recent years including the NFL. Non contact is just absolutely ridiculous in football. How about ball players practising without gloves?

  30. Paul Bomber // September 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm //

    What’s that over in the corner of the player safety room? An elephant??
    The CFLPA is a big part of the problem. They need to not only allow the league to really, truly and harshly punish players for dangerous hits, but actually encourage meaningful punishment. Why the PA only cares about the guy delivering dangerous hits, I’ll never understand.

  31. Paul Bomber // September 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm //

    Can I ask you to just consider what is happening in places like Russia and Chechnya in the name of machismo? Perhaps a LITTLE emasculation ain’t such a bad a thing. (operative word being “LITTLE”).
    Besides, this is more about new medical knowledge especially around concussion prevention, not rainbows & butterflies & peace & love.

  32. Paul Bomber // September 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm //

    hmm… not sure what happened there. Comment was meant as a reply to:
    JC // September 14, 2017 at 6:40 am //

    • Agreed…it just feels like the anti-male agenda is ever present these days. I mean this is football for goodness sake. I am as concerned about CTE and player safety in general. But at the same time….somethings are inherently dangerous……serving in the military……owning a tiger?
      In other words some risks can not be fully eliminated. This could in the end lead to more injuries as some have said….so yes….I am unconvinced of this being a good step.

  33. @ justforkick your welcome. Unfortunately my wife always complains that I have head full of useless knowledge but can’t remember the things I need to remember. Some times I can’t remember to stop drinking beer after the game! Just try to figure out women

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