Buffalo Could End Up In The CFL

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIIAugust 2, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 28: Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots falls forward for a first down ahead of Ko Simpson #30, Paul Posluszny #51 and Terrence McGee #24 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium December 28, 2008 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

"Ladies, and gentleman, I would like to present the winner of the Grey Cup, this year... Buffalo!"

Although the idea of a CFL commissioner making such a statement in the future seems far fetched, if not impossible to imagine, the ground work is now being laid for such a thing to actually happen.  Here's the scenario that could lead to such an event.

Currently, Los Angeles (if it survives the court challenges) wants to build an ultra-luxurious 75,000 seat stadium like the new Yankee Stadium or the one opening in Dallas

The builders have publicly stated they don't want an expansion franchise but want to steal an established team.

Many potential franchises have already been targeted: Jacksonville, San Diego, Minnesota, San Francisco, Oakland, and...Buffalo.

The NFL has been dying to get back into Los Angeles ever since it was ignominiously sent packing fifteen years ago; the league would prefer two teams, like all the other "big four" American sports.

There has been no talk of expansion and many readers on Bleacher Report have pointed out that the NFL would prefer to keep its symmetrical quota of 32 teams.

(I think it will move inevitably to another symmetrical point of 40.)

Assuming that the NFL doesn't want to expand and wants to get back into Los Angeles at almost any cost, it is prepared to let one of its franchises move from its existing city, preferably the least glamorous one.

Which franchise is that?  You got it, the Buffalo Bills.

The NFL has already shown that they don't care much for Buffalo by allowing its owner, Ralph Wilson to play games in Toronto.

"But," say the mindless, NFL-worshiping, Toronto fans, "That means that it is only a matter of time before the Bills come here!"

Sorry, chumps.  The NFL won't be coming any time in the near future, certainly not the Bills.

The NFL has consistently shown how it regards foreigners everywhere it plays outside the United States:

Price gouging (particularly in the current Toronto deal), minor league status (NFL Europe), and unglamorous games (San Francisco vs Arizona in Mexico when both teams were bad, the previously cellar dwelling Miami Dolphins last year in Toronto, and the New York Jets this year instead of Indianapolis).

The NFL despises foreigners.  It considers it a "privilege" for them to watch NFL games in their own cities.

All the NFL wants in Toronto is to play exhibitions and one or two regular season games with monopolistic ticket prices, and to peddle merchandise.

The last thing the NFL wants is another Blue Jays, a "foreign" team whose TV audience can't be counted by American networks in the ratings and who are the worst draw in baseball because they are not an American city.

On the other hand, if the NFL is prepared to allow Los Angeles to "steal" one of its existing franchises, Buffalo is that city.

If I was betting on who would be the first to offer themselves to Los Angeles, once all the hurdles to building that new stadium are cleared, I'd bet on either Ralph Wilson or Al Davis.

Unlike Houston and Cleveland, whose public tears persuaded the NFL to grant a consoling expansion franchise, Buffalo and Oakland are likely to be treated like St. Louis and Baltimore—who got nothing when the Cardinals and Colts left.  The NFL won't shed any tears for Buffalo and Oakland's fans.

Let's assume the worst happens and Buffalo is left without a franchise.  That leaves the entire north of New York State without a team.

Enter the CFL.  There has already been talk by ex-NFL players about returning to the United States now that NFL Europe is no more.  Rochester and Detroit were specifically mentioned.

But a better scenario is for the CFL to start a northern New York State division. Buffalo and Rochester have populations of over one million.  The Syracuse area has over 700,000 and the Albany area has 850,000. 

Unlike the CFL's previous American invasion, all these cities are close to the Canadian border, which makes travel easy to do and being close to the border; thus, they have more natural ties to Canada.

They would also be natural rivals for each other and draw fans on that basis.  These four cities, plus potential expansion into New England in Hartford and Providence, could be a possible future path for the CFL.

The NFL doesn't want such unglamourous cities.  The CFL might as well have them.


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