Local products holding out hope for a season
Local products hoping for CFL season after `disappointing' sequence of events
Essex native Brandon Revenberg is taking a cautious approach to the Canadian Football League's latest plans for a 2021 season.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced new plans on Wednesday that pushed back the start of the 2021 season after watching the 2020 campaign was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, I think there is room for optimism that we'll be back on the field this year,” Ambrosie said Wednesday in a statement on the league's website. “We are committed to playing in 2021.”
A two-time division all-star offensive lineman for the Hamilton Tiger-cats, Revenberg heard that talk throughout 2020, but eventually the league simply proved unable to get back on the field. For now, Revenberg is hopeful, but taking a wait-andsee approach to Wednesday's announcement.
“It was frustrating last year being kept in the dark,” the 28-year-old Revenberg said. “We saw it too many times last year where the season was postponed and then cancelled. You never really know, you just have to stay positive.”
The CFL announced an 18-game schedule in November with camps opening in May and the season set to begin in June. However, Ambrosie announced on Wednesday that, due to the current state of affairs because of the pandemic, the league has cut the number of games to 14 and pushed back the start to early August. Training camps will likely begin in the middle of July and there likely will not be any exhibition games. As well, the Grey Cup, which is scheduled to be played in Hamilton, has been moved back as well to Dec. 12 from Nov. 21.
“The writing was on the wall,” the 6-foot-4, 301-pound Revenberg, who signed a contract extension with Hamilton in January, said of the delay. “I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, but I figured that was going to happen the way things are currently. I'm just trying to make the most of things and stay positive.”
Ambrosie admits there are still hurdles when it comes to getting approval from public health officials and he said it's imperative that fans be allowed in the stands, which will also needs approval.
“We have a business model that is far more reliant on fans in the stands than other leagues,” Ambrosie said.
The fourth-overall pick in the 2019 CFL draft, the 23-year-old Drew Desjarlais won a Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a rookie offensive lineman and said just hearing a plan was a good sign for him.
“It's positive,” said the 6-foot2, 313-pound Desjarlais, who is from Belle River and is a University of Windsor Lancers grad. “It seems like a date is all we've been asking for for a while and just a little bit of plan is something we wanted to see.”
But Ambrosie is confident that, even if conditions change, the league will be able to make adjustments.
“In this announcement, in behind this announcement, are backup plans, and backup plans to our backup plans, because the one thing we all felt very positive about is our commitment to playing football in 2021 and getting our players back on the field and getting our fans back in the stadiums,” Ambrosie said.
Both Revenberg and Desjarlais simply want to get back on the field after a lost 2020 season. Since last hitting the field in
2019, Revenberg spent part of the time selling cars while Desjarlais, who also worked part time, used the opportunity to finish off his university degree.
While Canada struggles to contain the virus and get people vaccinated, Desjarlais believes there are better days ahead, which is why he thinks the CFL can look to the future with hope.
“I think it is realistic, seeing how things are going,” Desjarlais said. “I know we're not in good spot in Ontario and Canada right now, but vaccines are coming and things (are) looking up.”
The writing was on the wall (about cutbacks in games) . ... I figured that was going to happen the way things are.