At the REDBLACKS home opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I was granted the opportunity to interview CFL Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie. Ambrosie, who was an offensive lineman when he played was the second overall pick in the 1985 CFL draft. During his time in the CFL, he was lucky enough to play with Damon Allen in Edmonton and was granted a grey cup ring in 1993, when Edmonton beat Winnipeg 33-23. In 2017, Randy was given the job as the CFL commissioner.
Q and A
During the off-season, you and the CFL had started the installation of the “CFL 2.0”, are you surprised with how well the global players have done this early in their CFL careers?
“We were all curious of how well they’d perform, having no way to benchmark the league in their home countries . I am pleased with all the feedback I’ve received from CFL coaches and general managers about how well the guys have competed and I am more than excited to see what they have in store for the future of our league.”
What do you expect out of these guys once the season gets in full swing?
“It does take time for them to adjust to the league, when I played it was the same, fast pace football, the more they practice, the better they will get. I expect them to grow as players in this league, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of the guys become a star before the end of this season.“
Do you think that the rule book gave them difficulty when the players first came down to play?
“This sport, football, is much different than other sports, all the skills are the same. Tackling, blocking, catching its all the same no matter what league you’re in. The only thing is the rule book, but I believe the coaches of each team had done a good job assessing that into their game.”
During last year’s grey cup festivities in Edmonton, it had been announced that the CFL would return to the Maritimes, how exciting is this news for not just the CFL, but the fans too?
“Its been a life long dream for many of us, as a Winnipeger, I’ve lived in the middle of not just the country, but the league. The CFL is a coast to coast league being the Pacific to the Atlantic, and if we get this 10th team, it would complete the league as the said coast to coast league. The possible 10th team will be exciting for not only the CFL fans, but all of Canada.”
At what stage of the expansion process are we at as of now?
“Well, right now we are leaning on the stadium being building process, the owners and guys in charge of the project are few of the most remarkable people you’ll meet, they are very keen on the opportunity they were given, right now Anthony LaBlanc, Gary Drummond, and Bruce Bowser are all in talks with Halifax and once they get done with the stadium, we should get the 10th team we’ve all dreamt about.”
Through the past few years, the talent we’ve seen out of Canadians has grown enormously, is there a chance we’ll see any changes regarding the CFL’s National/International ratio?
“This year when we met with the CFLPA regarding the CBA, we revisted talks regarding the ratio about the 7 national starters and 21 nationals on the roster. There shouldnt be much changes regarding the ratio, although one change we have in mind is when an international athlete plays USports here in Canada, once they graduate, they’d become a national in the CFL, therefore teams would be able to keep an extra few guys on their rosters.”
Are you at all surprised with the growth of talent?
“Not suprised at all, I’ve always been a big fan of the Canadian’s junior sports and University athletics, and they have grown some great CFL players and also world class athletes. In the last few years, we’ve seen Canadians and CFL players head down south to play football in the NFL, and the junior leagues deserve more credit for the opportunities they’ve given these athletes.”
You mentioned Canadians going to the NFL, but CFL players going too, how well do you think former REDBLACKS wide receiver Diontae Spencer will perform with the Steelers?
“Spencer is a very good player and a very talented person. The thing I know about sports in the next level is the fact that it is all about hard work and a lot of luck. When he goes into camp this year, the discussion will be who stayed healthy and who had a good day, I wish him and all guys down south all the best, and if Spencer is able to stay healthy during camp, he’ll find a way to use his skills with the Steelers.”
This season marks the 6th season in existence for Ottawa and the REDBLACKS, what do you have to say regarding the success they’ve had along with the great fan base they built during their success?
“Having spent an hour walking arount the stands, I realize there is an atmosphere, and culture within the REDBLACKS community, what they’ve built here at OSEG, is truly special. OSEG has done a very good job and what they’ve done is good for the CFL to role model other CFL franchises on how to build a CFL franchise to perfection.”