The firming-up of the timeline for the CFL's return to Ottawa's obviously drawn plenty of comment; here alone, we broke it down both from the stance of how people in Ottawa are reacting and what team names people are looking for. However, perhaps the weirdest reaction to the news came from Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox. Cox is a fan of the move, but rather than praising it because of how it reflects the league's success or how important it is to get the CFL back in Ottawa, he chooses to claim that it's going to inject some apparently-desired instability into the league. In Cox's opinion, it seems that the greatest days of the CFL were the ones where the whole league seemed in crisis. Here's the first part of what he had to say:
The CFL, whether you love it, make excuses for it or find it to be something that only really strikes your fancy at Grey Cup time, surely needs this. It surely needs something. At a time when the league has become more financially stable than it has been in a quarter-century or more, the CFL has also become a little stale.
And really, what else could we have expected from a league forced to get by with only eight teams since the Renegades collapsed under the weight of the Glieber guys back in 2006? Eight teams just isn't enough in 2012 to create compelling stories and generate a sufficient variety of results.
If Cox doesn't think there are enough compelling stories in this league, I'd invite him to try doing this job, where the biggest challenge is just finding enough time to write about perhaps half of the interesting things going on in the CFL. Cox is just getting started there, though, as he goes on to opine that "there hasn't been a terrific Grey Cup game since 2005" (he must have missed the 2009 edition, a game so thrilling that TSN did an entire documentary centred around its ending), that "quarterbacking seems to be at a low historical ebb" (a curious claim when the league features a still-shining star in Anthony Calvillo, pro football's all-time leading passer, reasonably-proven stars like Ricky Ray, Henry Burris and Darian Durant and rising stars like Travis Lulay.
Also, there's no way this is a "low historical ebb", as teams are infinitely better at throwing the football now than they were in the 1950s and 1960s). It's interesting as well as he asserts that there's been "hardly a tidal wave" of new stars, as players like Cameron Wake and Jerrell Freeman who have gone on to shine in the NFL would disagree, as would those like Jon Cornish, Andrew Harris, Chad Owens and S.J. Green who are currently tearing it up north of the border. By just about any metric you can envision, the CFL's doing great compared to where it's been. Still, Cox's most ridiculous claim (which is saying something) here is that the league is too well run:
Off the field, there hasn't been a boardroom assassination since Mike Lysko, and the days of Save the (insert team name here) Breakfasts seem to be over. No longer is there always an entertaining brushfire to watch, nobody's bought a team lately so their kid could be the quarterback and the Buffalo Bills have proven to be more of a threat to themselves than they are to the sustainability of three-down football in Southern Ontario. Even the awkward dual ownership of David Braley is hardly a lightning rod for controversy.
I'm sorry, but in what possible universe is a competent league a bad thing? Can we assume that Cox prefers sitting in a room somewhere, smirking at negative headlines and chanting "Fail, puppets, fail!"? Sure, bad news sells for some people, but going right out and saying that you're rooting for leagues to blunder towards their own destruction seems rather uncouth (and whatever happened to 'no cheering in the press box', something you've conveniently used to tar bloggers over the years?).
Of course, this isn't particularly unexpected from Cox, who has a long history of trolling Canadian sports fans and taking extreme stands to draw out a reaction; heck, his own Star bio admits that, saying he "loves to stir up trouble." Still, even though it's an act we've all seen, that doesn't make it less silly or tired. If there's anything that's growing stale here, I don't think it's the CFL.