Everyone wearing green has been struck a mighty blow today. Andy Fantuz, one of the most valuable members of the Saskatchewan Roughrider football club, has accepted a deal to play for the Chicago Bears this upcoming season.
Its no wonder really - he was voted the Most Valuable Canadian player this year, and has dominated the field the last two years. He's an amazing player, a real team motivator and he makes the fans love him. Saskatchewan's loss is Chicago's gain, and then some.
Now this may actually motivate me to watch the NFL. Not because I think their football is better, or even as good as the CFL, far from it. In fact, the few games that I have watched don't seem to have the intensity of the CFL games. I'll be the first to admit that I am biased - I love my Canadian football. But look at the game itself: a larger field (and no I am not talking length, but width, which I am widely assured is far more important) means that the defence has more area to protect; one fewer down to move the ball the same distance puts a much higher reliance on the passing game; one more member on the field means that the coaching staff has to coordinate that much more, and; a longer distance between the lines on scrimmage (CFL is one yard, NFL is about a foot) means that both sets of lines have to be just as big, but far more agile. Those all contribute to making the CFL just better damned ball.
Why does the NFL get the hype? One word. Money. Plain and simple, the league minimum NFL salary is $295,000 - conversely, the league minimum in CFL football is $42,000. Yeah, used car salesmen can make as much as a starting CFL player. Hell, the CFL league cap for the entire team's salary is only 4.2 million. Compare that with the NFL team cap of around 127 million. Yeah, one team's cap from the NFL would pay the salaries of every CFL team combined - THREE TIMES OVER! And that doesn't count the very lucrative endorsement deals that these NFL stars can get.
No word on what salary Andy is going to get, but its definitely going to be a hell of a lot larger than what he was making in Regina - and you can't blame him at all for leaving.
So anyway, good luck Andy. I'll watch a couple games when you play. Maybe you'll finally get me to watch NFL football. I doubt it though, but crazier things have happened.