The ALSternative: On to the next decade

It’s been a while, let’s see if I remember how this is done…

As I enter my first complete decade of the blog life, I find myself at a bit of a crossroads with this particular blog. When I started this in 2011, the football landscape was vastly different and I was a mere fan, dizzied by the Montreal Alouettes’ back to back Grey Cup championships.

I was given the opportunity to write this blog, not fully understanding what could possibly come of it. I did see a lack of online presence for this football team and wanted to see if I could change that with a positive yet objective tone.

This was never meant to be a cheerleader column and I like to think that as each post was published, I crafted and created the type of stories that everyone curious about the Alouettes would want to read.

I’ve definitely made mistakes with this blog. I’ve certainly written things that have ruffled some feathers, so to speak. But I have also grown and been given the opportunity to become more than just a “fan” of the team; rather, a voice for the voiceless.

The loss of the 2020 CFL season put a major damper on this blog. After all, it’s hard to write about a football team when they don’t play any football games. And as the weeks and months have gone by, there still remains a lot of uncertainty as to whether we’ll see this league of ours back on the field.

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Let’s be clear, all nine teams are currently operating with the assumption that there will football played come June 2021. Lots of progress has been made in how to operate a sports league in light of this global pandemic we are still waist-deep in.

All of the major sports leagues have gone through the trials and tribulations in order to get their seasons in. It’s been far from perfect and everyone seems to have to adapt on the fly, but sports are being played.

Fans aren’t always able to participate in these sporting events like they are used to, but they will still support their teams as before. One has to wonder if these fans will be able to do likewise for the CFL, a league that lives and dies by the number of butts in the seats.

When the CFL shuttered their doors last August, the head honchos declared that they would need support from the federal government in order to continue operating. I wonder if that has changed or if all nine teams have been able to incorporate a new business model that will ensure success for years to come.

By and large, there has not been much talk from the league itself, other than the hope that a COVID-19 vaccine will be readily available and allow for fans to be able to attend CFL games in 2021.

Well, there is a vaccine available and currently, the rollout of said vaccine has been spotty at best. If being vaccinated is a requirement to play for a CFL team or attend a CFL game, then the prospects of a 2021 season aren’t looking so great.

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Which makes it a little tough to get excited about the off-season things that I am normally stoked about, such as CFL Free Agency, slated to kick off tomorrow at noon ET.

Considering we haven’t even seen the 2020 free agent signings actually play a game in their new uniforms, how can one properly evaluate their teams’ needs in 2021 and speculate on who may be coming or going?

The best example of that is last year’s free agent quarterback signings for the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks. The QBs they signed were essentially released when they wouldn’t renegotiate their contracts and both QBs wound up signing with the opposite team!

While I like to think that I am one to appreciate some of the quirky idiosyncrasies that the CFL has to offer, this particular instance has me shaking my head in total disbelief.

But it’s got people talking about the CFL even though the NFL typically dominates the headlines in early February. A case where any publicity is good publicity.

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The other off-season event that gets my juices flowing is the CFL draft, which will have a very different feel to it this spring.

There was no USports football played last year, so the majority of the Canadian-born players eligible to be drafted will come from the NCAA. There was some very talented players who were able to showcase their talents and put together some great film.

But where this will likely impede the CFL is that these players will be evaluated and scouted more with NFL aspirations in mind. The secret is out: Canada produces some top tier talent and the NFL will have first crack at it.

Realistically, any top NCAA prospect is now thinking of a career south of the border much more than “coming home” to play in the CFL. And any USports prospects will have to have the pro day of their lives to go along with the 2 year old film they already have.

And let’s not forget that any player drafted in 2020 still has not had a chance to compete in a CFL training camp yet. So this makes for a very saturated marketplace for a prospective young player. Lots of workers competing for a scant few jobs.

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So this is what this blog is up against as far as being that voice in the CFL landscape. And yet, I am ready and even a little excited for whatever this potential season will bring.

Things are not going to be the way they used to be. We as a people are changing and evolving and this blog will do likewise.

I won’t do my usual CFL Free Agency columns like I have done before, but I still plan to inform you all about the changes that the Alouettes will make, good bad or other.

My Draft Preview will be a bit different this year, but I am still intrigued by what will be out there and I still want you all to get excited for the future like I will.

But mostly, I am sincerely hoping to do an honest to goodness season preview like in years before. I was denied that opportunity in 2020 and I hope this league will have its ducks in a row in order for me to do so.

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So this is where I stand right now with this little piece of the Internet. I think I’ve come a long way from that fan in 2011 who started this blog for sh*ts and giggles, not expecting it to become anything major or worthwhile on the CFL media scene.

I haven’t written anything in months, but I do feel that the fire is still burning in me, even if it’s just some very hot embers at this moment. I find myself looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this team with you all once again.

This first decade of blog life is in the books. I’m ready for the second decade to get underway.

To quote Seinfeld’s George Costanza, “I’m back, baby!”

As always, thanks for reading. And for the first time (and hopefully not the last!) in 2021,

GO ALS GO!!!