CFL's new commissioner must find a way to get David Braley out as Argos owner
Argos owner David Braley (QMI Agency file)
The CFL appoints a new commissioner, but the same dark, ominous clouds continue to hover over the Toronto Argonauts, questions and uncertainty that can only be remedied with a new owner.
In the absence of a new, vibrant Argos owner who is willing to put a face on this franchise, the CFL is going to lose the momentum it has developed the past few years.
Players have done their part by agreeing to a new collective agreement that ensures labour peace, perhaps giving too much to the league’s owners.
There are new venues, a bigger TV audience and bigger revenue streams, which are good.
And then there’s the bad, better known as the Toronto Argonauts.
David Braley cannot check his ego and nor can he ever overlook profit, but it must stop or the Double Blue can’t go forward.
Jeffrey Orridge comes across as a decent guy, well polished with a solid resume, but it’s clear he’ll never meet a personality such as Braley.
Give credit to Braley for stepping in when the David Cynamon/Howard Sokolowski ownership tandem was bleeding money.
Give Braley credit for cutting the cheques and ensuring no player has missed his game salary.
When something needs to be aired in public, Braley has enough well-heeled media members who have no shame that any agenda gets thrown out.
In truth, the biggest issue surrounding the Argos is Braley, who needs to get out of town, by far the No 1 priority for the incoming CFL commissioner.
How Orridge handles Braley will go a long way in determining his legacy and impact on the league.
An Argos ownership structure that is tied to Toronto, that is engaged, willing to spend beyond the minimum, willing to hire competent front-office executives is a must.
Cynamon, according to those in the know, has been kicking the tires, helped in part by Michael (Pinball) Clemons, whom Braley isn’t exactly a fan of, which is all you need to know about the man.
There is a model that will make the Argos profitable, but it involves the team playing out of BMO Field.
Those close to the scene believe a lease deal is getting closer, but until it’s finalized the Argos will remain that nomadic franchise heading into the abyss.
“This city is vitally important to the health of the league, it is a priority,” said Orridge at his unveiling when asked about BMO.
“Obviously, it’s been discussed for some time and discussions are ongoing but certainly that’s going to be one of the lynch pins, I think, in ensuring that this league continues to grow and prosper.”
The league and its then perpetually smiling commissioner missed the boat, no pun intended, when MLSE began to look at the Boatmen, a team that would have played at BMO and not risk further embarrassment by playing at Rogers Centre.
Braley wanted too much money, roughly $20 million, and a percentage of future Grey Cup games in Toronto, one shot at wiping out the millions he’s lost running the team.
At least Braley is consistent, but he must go, the sooner the better.
Cynamon, it’s hoped, has learned from his ownership foray and he makes the ideal candidate to take over.
By having Clemons on board, there’s credibility and a face to draw fans and corporate sponsors.
BMO will provide a much-needed home, suitable dates to appeal to fans and control over revenue.
As of today, there’s virtually nothing because of Braley.
Jim Barker is as good a football person and man as there is in the CFL, but Braley nearly decided to cast Barker adrift in 2012.
Had the Argos not won the 100th Grey Cup, there’s a good chance Barker wouldn’t be in Toronto.
If Barker had left, head coach Scott Milanovich would soon follow, then Ricky Ray and almost certainly Chad Owens.
Barker, Milanovich and Ray don’t have contracts beyond this season and there’s no future for the Scullers unless Braley is out of the picture.
Orridge can’t force a sale to the likes of a Cynamon, but he can broker a deal if he has the fortitude to deal with Braley, something Mark Cohon couldn’t summon.
This is make or break time for the Toronto Argonauts and the biggest impediment to position the franchise forward is by finding a new owner.
David Braley must go, plain and simple.
DALEY DECIDED NOT TO RETURN
There were many issues plaguing the Argonauts last season, areas of deficiency that couldn’t get addressed, crushing injuries that couldn’t be avoided.
Jim Daley wasn’t among them. The well-respected coach who has done just about everything there is to do in football, both professionally and at the amateur level, steered the Argos’ special teams during his first and only year in Double Blue.
As the year unfolded, the team’s cover units improved. With no definitive returner, the Argos couldn’t find a suitable body to handle kickoffs and punts.
Way back in the season opener played in Winnipeg, some big plays in the return game were made, but the Bombers were simply the better overall team.
The Argos were so enamoured with Daley that, according to a league source, head coach Scott Milanovich extended an contract offer to Daley.
According the source, Daley declined because of personal reasons.
The CFL is a better game with Daley involved, a high-character individual who is the ultimate pro and competitor.
No matter which team he has coached, regardless of job description, Daley always brought an air of integrity and respect. It was no different last year.