Jeffrey Orridge on taking CFL commissioner's job: "My dream job has actually happened."
New CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge has had a lot of remarkable jobs over the years, including leadership positions with the CBC, Right To Play, Mattel, Warner Brothers, Reebok and USA Basketball. However, he said at Tuesday's press conference announcing his hire that getting to run the CFL is even better.
"My dream job has actually happened," Orridge said. "This is a dream come true for me."
Orridge is originally from New York, but has lived in Canada with his family since 2007 and is about to become a Canadian citizen. He succeeded current Rogers president of Sportsnet and NHL Scott Moore as the CBC's executive director of sports in 2011, and has worked on numerous key rights deals (including securing the Olympics through 2020), brand partnerships, digital initiatives and more in that role. That's just the latest in Orridge's series of sports jobs, though, as just about every role he's held over the last 20 years has been sports-related, from working with the original Dream Team as USA Basketball's assistant executive director to serving as Reebok's director of global sports marketing to working as Right to Play International's COO and head of global business development.
"I've been living and breathing sports most of my life," he said.
Still, running the CFL will be different. It's a league that's incredibly popular in Canada and little-known anywhere else, a sharp contrast from the more international jobs Orridge has had. He said he's excited by the CFL's uniqueness and potential, though. "My international experience and background have only reinforced for me the importance of the Canadian Football League," Orridge said. "Its place in Canadian culture, on the Canadian sporting landscape, and in the hearts and minds of Canadians make this a responsibility I take very seriously and an opportunity for which I am very grateful."
He said the CFL and the Grey Cup is a key part of what unites Canada.
"The CFL is truly that connective tissue that binds communities together," Orridge said. "I love our game, i love the popular power of sport, I love this country, and I couldn't be more proud and more humble."
It's an interesting era for the CFL and for sports in general, as the value of televised sports continues to shoot up (see the league's massive TV/radio/digital deal with TSN through 2018), reinforcing that league success isn't measured just by attendance at the games. The digital side is also becoming more important than it has ever been, something Orridge knows well; CFL board of governors chair Jim Lawson pointed to Orridge's success overseeing CBC's digital Olympics coverage as a key part of what got him the job.
Orridge said the sports landscape is shifting dramatically around the world, but that presents a lot of opportunities as well as challenges.
"The landscape is constantly changing, not just domestically but internationally," he said. "I believe we are living in an age of seemingly limitless possibilities and the opportunities ahead for the Canadian Football League are second to none."