Ricky Williams once said of his Canadian Football League (CFL) experience that "People accepted me more, people didn't think I was weird, people thought I was actually normal while I was playing football and that's something that I never really experienced before."
Will somebody please get Michael Vick on the line.
Sure, Williams was rather subpar during his short stint with the Toronto Argonauts while under suspension for drug abuse in the National Football League (NFL), but the experiment cannot be labelled as a failure by any means.
Williams's star presence provided the Argos marketing with a golden opportunity to sell more tickets and memorabilia than ever before. On the flip side, the Miami Dolphins, the NFL team which Williams had been under contract with, benefited from the situation as well, as they got back an active, seemingly clean football player in 2008 as oppose to what he may have become had he not signed in Toronto.
How quickly things change.
Former CFL commissioner Tom Wright, in his final state of the league address, introduced a new rule, which was to be implemented at the start of the 2007 CFL season and prevents a player under suspension in the NFL from signing with a CFL club.
"The Ricky Williams Rule" as it has come to be informally known as.
Granted, Vick was caught up in a much more serious crime than Williams, one that he served prison time for, but just imagine the kind of media field day that would follow if he signed in Canada.
Front page, nationwide.
Obviously, Canadians aren't stupid, they're fully aware of Vick's notoriety factor, and some kind of protest would be sure to follow, if in fact he was somehow able to sign with a CFL team. But the pressures of playing in, oh, let's say, Vancouver, as opposed to really anywhere in the United States, would undoubtedly be dramatically less.
Then, after a year, Vick could return to the NFL, pending if they allowed him to get reinstated, and sign with a team there, in shape and out of trouble, while the CFL can be happy with the truckloads of they money made off his star caliber.
But unfortunately, it's time to burst this hypothetical bubble, because as long as "The Ricky Williams Rule" stands, it doesn't seem as though Vick, or any other troubled NFL stars for that matter, will be heading up to the Great White North to play football anytime soon.
It's a shame really, these two leagues should be working with each other and even if that means setting up an NFL refugee camp in Canada, so be it. Because everyday that the NFL gets closer to expanding north is everyday that the CFL comes one step closer to dying.
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