Eventually, Randy Ambrosie will have to deliver on his promises

“I promise you.”

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said that phrase four times during the first state-of-the-league address of his tenure and that key word –“promise” – is perhaps the best way to describe the first five months of his tenure.

Ambrosie showed some signs of nervousness when facing a room full of media, a moderate departure from his usual friendly, down-to-earth style. He started with a photo and a joke – “I thought I’d take a selfie of us while we still like each other” – but quickly devolved into the same corporate speak that has been commonplace at these events.

A former player who has enjoyed a successful post-football career in the financial services industry, he wasn’t a train wreck in the mould of Jeffery Orridge – his two state-of-the-leagues were beyond atrocious – but he was less forthright than we’ve come to expect.

The issue of concussions – where Orridge made all the wrong headlines a year ago by denying a link between football and brain diseases like CTE – continues to bedevil the CFL’s top executive. Ambrosie took the line designed to minimize the league’s legal exposure, one that further stretches the limits of credulity with each passing day.

“We’re going to be looking for innovation in safety and health but the science isn’t clear which all that tells us is we have to keep working with science,” he said. “We can’t abandon this process now.”

His case was more theatrical than compelling: he pulled out a thick red file folder full of, it was implied, important research. He talked about a recent medical conference in Bonn. He told Alouettes receiver Nik Lewis, in town doing media work, that they’d continue working on the issue. Promised him.

Ambrosie was, however, far more forthright on other issues. He acknowledged the challenges the league is facing with the officiating, which has been hurt by some high-profile errors that have impacted the outcome of games (cut to Ticats’ fans nodding grimly.)

“I’ve said many times we have to revisit the command centre question. As it stands today, it was designed to correct egregious errors. It was not as currently formatted designed to make the perfect call,” Ambrosie said. “If you’re going to go to the command centre, what I’m hearing from fans is they want us to make the perfect call.”

That populist approach was also applied to issues like Halifax expansion – he was cautiously optimistic – and scheduling, with Ambrosie stating he’d be in favour of moving up the start of the season. That move will likely be popular with frigid fans on Sunday.

“Imagine playing our Grey Cup let’s just say the third week of October when it’s beautiful everywhere and you don’t have to wear 900 layers of clothing and you don’t have to go get your winter boots out,” he said.

And what of a Hamilton Grey Cup? The city hasn’t hosted the league’s signature event since 1996 and this week’s affair in Ottawa is likely to remind Ticat fans who made the trip just what they’re missing: after last year’s Toronto disaster, the Nation’s Capital is doing it up right.

More promises.

“The process for the decision on 2019 and beyond is one that I haven’t entered into at all,” Ambrosie said. “Business season starts Monday so maybe if you call me in three weeks I might have a better insight than that.”

Yeah, we’ve heard that one before.

It is, of course, still very early in his open-ended tenure and Ambrosie has earned some well-deserved points for making swift and prudent decisions on pressing issues – fixing the replay challenge system, for example. Friday’s performance demonstrated that he has a grasp of the issues, that he understands the challenges and that’s a decent start.

At some point, Randy Ambrosie will have to deliver.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1206 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

22 Comments on Eventually, Randy Ambrosie will have to deliver on his promises

  1. More Cowbell // November 25, 2017 at 12:42 pm //

    Has Hamilton applied to the CFL to host a Grey Cup since it last hosted one though? I thought the team has to make an application to the league, and that Hamilton had not done so.

    • They can’t bid on a Grey Cup until the legal issues between the city and the stadium builder are sorted out.
      Then they have to determine if it’s financially viable.

  2. I’ve grown tired of the whole “when’s Hamilton going to get a Grey Cup” question – it’s not the Commissioner’s or League’s fault. Why not ask Bob Young and Scott Mitchell why they haven’t even put a bid in yet ?

  3. It would’ve been nice if the Media members weren’t so obsessed with the two buzzwords “Concussions” and “CTE”. 4 questions about the topics, not one about expansion, nor the League’s potential new tv deal with the NFL Network, nor how great it was to see the Eastern Final well attended, and bringing in a huge increase in tv numbers. The media is supposed to find out information that fans want to read, I’m pretty sure most fans don’t want Concussions and CTE discussed 4 times…………

    • What potential new TV deal with the NFL network?

      This year there were even LESS CFL games on ESPN2, the East and West final were not on ESPN2, they were on the “premium” ESPN news network.
      I’m in the US and I have the package that gets ESPN but could not get the East and West final this year.
      At least the Grey Cup is on ESPN2

  4. I’m telling you the vast majority of fans don’t care about this CTE stuff. The media seems obsessed with it

    • The problem is that parents are pulling their kids from football programs and schools are dropping football.
      Out of over 100 High Schools in the Toronto area only 25 are still playing football.
      Not a bright future for trying to fill the Canadian ratio in the CFL

      • SlimJim that you, trollin on the CFL again

      • Another good reason to drop the ratio or lower it to 4 which is what the MLS had for Americans in its first few years. NHL, NBA, MLS, and MLB all doing great in Canada and only thing in common is no nationality ratios.

    • That is absolutely true. And like calling people a bigot or racist, if you don’t subscribe to that narrative you’re a bad person.

      If a person is not a phony and truly believes in this stuff they should be calling for a ban in sports where concussions are more prevalent, gymnastics, soccer, hockey in addition to football.

  5. Because true journalism has died, and I guess we’re now stuck with todays media types that love buzzwords and tabloid style writing to get clicks.

  6. Leave it to Arash Madani for asking the CTE question, he’s from sportsnet and I’m sure there to derail anything positive going on in the CFL. Fix the officiating, better schedule, a 10th team and a new TV deal with ESPN are starters, then work on getting Braley and Wally out of BC, need new blood.

    • I can’t believe I’m going to say this…… but in fairness to Arash, he wasn’t the only one to bring it up, it was also brought up by 2 other media members and Nik Lewis.

  7. As for Running a full summer football from say May to October is a good idea…Better weather..less direct competition with NFL..Draw summer US football ticket buyers in border areas such as Halifax (Maine), Windsor (Detroit) and Hamilton (Buffalo)…If you institute a soccer style loaner program NFL teams more likely to lend out players for May or June games.

  8. Fire Jeff Harbin and Jake Ireland. First step.

  9. Of course the CTE question is a major concern but I’m with the poster above, almost all team sports are subject to the same issues – junior hockey anyone ? – concussions are also a fact of life in skiing, should we ban the downhill at the Olympics ? We or the media should also be focusing on the positives as well, league expansion, new tv contract possibilities, renewed interest in Toronto (we hope) can’t those subjects be discussed more frequently ? That’s what I want to hear, and spare me the less Canadians in the league, you want to really kill the sport in Canada ? go ahead and close it off to Canadian kids. So very short-sighted and dumb !!

  10. Listen to the fans. You want people in the stands, improve the officiating on the field and in the command center. They are losing fans due to the crappy calls.

  11. As the new leader of the CFL…
    He certainly has a great deal of issues he will have to get sorted out.
    And quickly….
    For me as a life long fan of the CFL…and even more specific, a fan of the TiCats.
    Something must be done with Glen Johnson.
    Johnson is not doing his job…a job he spoke over and over about getting cleaned up.
    And I refer to the state of Official’s calling the games…even more importantly the people working the Command Center.
    Under Johnson’s leadership…
    Incompetent fools still have positions…there seems to be a total lack of any responsibility or more importantly any degree of accountability…period.
    Jake Ireland should have been FIRED years ago..yet still remains at his posting in the Command Center.
    Ireland is only one of several..that should have been shown the door.
    And since Johnson does not seem to have the BALLS to do anything.
    I hope the new Commissioner being an ex player…soon does.
    Our game has come along ways…
    But still has a ways to go.

  12. Imagine playing a Grey Cup in October? Hopefully not around Thanksgiving!

    This whole notion of moving up the schedule is crazy. I want to spend my summer weekends at the cottage. Summer is too short to miss out on that. The CFL needs to simply reduce the schedule back to 16 games like the NFL does.

    Yes, that will be awkward with 9 or 10 teams. But less games allows us to see better rested athletes who will put on a better show each game.

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