CFL Has Another Crisis

The league has taken over the Montréal franchise.

The Canadian Football League is facing yet another crisis. The business has taken over the day-to-day operations of the Montréal Alouettes franchise. The Montréal Alouettes business is up for sale and the league is hoping that it can keep its Montréal business going. The CFL seems to be in a year-to-year survival mode. In 2020, the CFL did not play because of the COVID-19 pandemic and there was some question whether the league would continue. In the past two years, there were talks between the CFL and the people who bought Vince McMahon’s XFL in a bankruptcy court about some sort of alliance. The two sides could not figure out a way to work together. The Canadian Football League has nine franchises and at one time, the National Football League needed the CFL to be in business as a buffer against antitrust claims for operating as a monopoly.

The CFL in the mid-1950s competed for players with the NFL. The CFL paid better salaries. In 1953, the NFL would set an attendance record and by 1954 most of the NFL teams had local TV contracts. No matter, the NFL was a step above semi-pro football and another league had set its sights on a war with the NFL. The Canadian Football League. The CFL signed the 1952 Heisman Trophy Winner Billy Vessels, along with Eddie LeBaron and Gene Brito. In 1955, LeBaron, Brito, Norb Heckler, Alex Webster and Tom Dublinski left the CFL for NFL teams after representatives from the two competing leagues failed to work out a no raiding treaty. The bidding war ended by 1956. The CFL has survived but barely.  Between 1993 and 1995, the league had teams in the United States but only the Baltimore franchise was able to gain some fan support. In 1999, Vince McMahon thought about buying the CFL. The league now has a Montréal problem.

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Chad Johnson once played for the Montreal Alouettes