Esks’ GM Ed Hervey doubles down on delayed transactions, hurting team’s and league’s image

Sometimes, a wave of criticism causes people or organizations to reevaluate their thinking. In other cases, though, it causes them to double down and take a "damn the torpedoes" approach. The Edmonton Eskimos appear to be going with the latter philosophy: following a wave of flak over the delayed public release of their cuts Sunday morning, 14 hours after the deadline for submitting them to the league (a delay that seemed even longer, as most organizations publicized their cuts before the official league deadline), general manager Ed Hervey told The Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones he plans to do the same thing next year:

“Why is everyone up in arms with the way we handled our transactions?” said the new G.M., returning my call Sunday morning.

“It's not that we're still a dysfunctional organization. It's not. I know it's not. We're nothing close to being anything like last year.

“It was my call. To me it made more sense that it all come out Sunday morning. And I'll do it again next year. ...

"We got it done. We had everything completed on time. We had it all into the league before the deadline – definitely before the deadline.”

So why not announce it before 8 p.m. like everybody else?

“I believe in releasing the full roster. Some players get cut outright. Some go on the practice roster. To do that we needed, I decided to wait until the morning to release the transactions. A couple of guys wanted more time to make a decision about going on the practice roster.”

From this corner, this seems like a silly approach. Everyone covering the CFL knows practice roster announcements usually come some time after the cuts, so it's not like the Eskimos' approach alters anything in how cuts are covered. In fact, it makes the organization look amateurish, as many players (including aspiring journalist/filmmaker Nick Cody) tweeted that they were cut before the team officially announced it. When your team can't be first to its own news, that's a problem, and it particularly looks bad when every organization but the Eskimos has their cuts posted on the CFL site long before noon Eastern Sunday. It's also befuddling that Hervey doesn't understand why this is creating a backlash of criticism. His approach is far removed from popular practice and the way everyone else does it, and it appears calculated to make things as difficult as possible for media and fans to find information on who's made the team. That's going to get you some flak.

However, as Jones points out, there don't appear to be any league rules mandating teams release their cuts to the public at a certain time, so this is an omission that should be fixed on the league's side. Every other organization seems to see the common-sense value of having centrally-posted cut lists by or before the deadline, but the Eskimos don't, and under the current system, there doesn't appear to be anything stopping them from holding the process up. It's something that makes the CFL look bush-league, though, and as such, the league should step in and tell organizations that all cuts will be posted on the league website as soon as they're submitted going forward. That's an approach that works for the NFL, and it seems to work for the CFL outside of Edmonton. Clearly, the league can't depend on all its teams to follow common-sense practices in relation to releasing cuts, so they may need to make a rule about it.

What's even more troubling than the Eskimos' delayed cuts (which, again, appear allowable under the current lacklustre league rules) is how they dealt with the local media, though. There was no heads-up given that the team wouldn't release its cuts until Sunday, an unnecessary move that forced many media members to waste time sitting around and watching Edmonton's website in the hopes they'd eventually release something. A simple "We'll announce our cuts at 10 a.m. Mountain Time Sunday" statement wouldn't have eliminated the problems with the team making these moves public so late, but it would have greatly improved the perception of the organization.

Even worse than that, though, the team called a media session for 4 p.m. local Saturday, four hours ahead of the deadline for submitting cuts to the league; that would obviously seem to be about cuts, and that would follow a pattern that most CFL teams use, but the Eskimos elected to surprisingly make that a conference where head coach Kavis Reed only spoke about Friday night's game and refused to answer questions on cuts. This move, which CHED's Dave Campbell described as a "bait and switch," was completely amateur and something that shouldn't be acceptable in a league that wants to be taken seriously. It's notable that the larger media outcry is not over the delayed release of cuts (which is very problematic from this standpoint), but over the team's lack of communication and transparency.

If the team wants to make league-wide coverage difficult and get beaten to cuts news by tweets from their own players, that's one thing (and one that can't really be remedied without the league stepping in), but calling a press conference that obviously seems about cuts and then refusing to discuss cuts is something else. When Hervey was hired, he kicked dirt all over predecessor Eric Tillman and said "We're not going to be perceived as a sideshow." Well, so far, this new administration's been even more of a sideshow than last year's was, from tampering fines to delayed cuts to false-flag press conferences. As Jones writes, "The Eskimos have to go forward with a very real focus on image. This organization simply can't afford to appear dysfunctional any longer."

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