Author Archives: John Kryk

Mississauga’s Brandon Bridge takes another step closer to NFL dream

Brandon

(Brandon Bridge of Mississauga, Ont., before his pro-day workout
in front of a dozen or NFL [and at least two CFL] talent evaluators. My photos, included)

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MOBILE, Ala. — By continuing to refine his footwork, Brandon Bridge keeps inching closer to his NFL dream.

He took another good step in that direction at his pro day on Monday at the University of South Alabama.

In front of about a dozen NFL scouts, and at least two CFL talent evaluators, the 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., showed he’s more than an over-his-head, bazooka-armed, spread-system quarterback.

Feedback gathered by Sun Media indicates NFL observers thought Bridge showed yet more improvement, even from his scouting-combine workout in Indianapolis last month.

“I’m hearing the same thing,” Bridge told Sun Media in a phone interview six hours after his pro-day workout concluded. “My footwork was better, they said. It was faster. I think that was mainly what they wanted to see.”

BrandonThe knocks on Bridge include these: that while he has an arm so strong as to make any scout drool, he lacks touch; that his completion percentage (especially in the pocket) was worrisomely low in college, owing to inconsistent footwork problems; that while tall (6-foot-4½) he has a lean basketball player’s body, which raises long-term injury concerns; that he took almost every college snap from the shotgun and is only familiarizing himself now with 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-step drops; and that he didn’t play much in college, either at South Alabama or before that in two years at Alcorn State in Mississippi.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock in February said Bridge has “a whip” for an arm but is “a project. He’s very raw. He has no clue what he’s doing.”

Before the combine, NFLdraftscout.com’s senior analyst Rob Rang rated Bridge as the No. 12 QB in this year’s class who likely wouldn’t be drafted.

But Rang said Bridge passed himself into the draft with his combine performance. Indeed, Rang now rates Bridge as the No. 7 passer, with a sixth-round grade.

Bridge probably helped his draft stock even more on Monday.

On a gusty, uncommonly hot day for late March in Mobile — my rental car’s dashboard thermometer said it was 30C (86F) right after the workout ended — Bridge said he completed 50-of-59 throws, with four drops.

Drops actually explain, in part, Bridge’s unacceptably low completion percentage of 52.1% in 2014. Word in Mobile is that Jaguars receivers dropped as many as eight passes in a game more than once last fall. Eesh.

Bridge’s other five incompletions on Monday were on him. They weren’t pretty misfires either; three were ankle-hitters.

The wind was a legit factor, as was the fact that late in the quickly run workout his receivers — including one of the draft’s top tight ends, Wes Saxton — appeared completely gassed. That appeared to mess up their timing.

Early on, though, Bridge badly missed on a 22-yard out to the left to Saxton, and threw poorly on three medium-range incompletions. Bridge similarly had missed on two easy, medium-range throws to the left at the combine.

“I just had to put more air under it,” Bridge said of Monday’s 22-yard misfire. “Same with the (incomplete) right-side comeback. I just needed to put more air under it, rather than throw it like a line drive. I threw it like that because the wind was blowing a lot, and I didn’t want the wind to take it.”

BrandonBridge immediately afterward appeared frustrated with his misses. But at about that time, one scout came up to him to assure him he did a “great job” and showed yet more improvement.

Bridge displayed his usual impressive accuracy on deep throws, even while rolling out to the right. And he looked better for the most part on short throws, sometimes displaying the nice touch that tape shows he didn’t possess as a collegian.

Since leading the South Alabama Jaguars to their first bowl game in the program’s six-year existence last season, Bridge played in January’s NFLPA Bowl (a college all-star game). Then he worked out under noted QB guru Steve Calhoun in California.

Since then David Morris, of Alabama-based QB Country, has been coaching up Bridge on all his fundamentals.

“He’s become a more consistent thrower, and a guy that can take some velocity off when he wants to, and add some umph to it when he needs to, too,” said Morris, who scripted Bridge’s pro-day workout.

“We’re really working a lot on mastering each ball speed, too. There are (so many) different ball speeds that you have to be really comfortable with — the firm ball, the touch ball, the in-between ball, the two-ball, the deep ball, the flat ball, the arching ball … The more you get accustomed to it, the better you get at it.”

The tutoring is paying off, Bridge said.

“I really wanted to emphasize my footwork here today. I thought we showcased that pretty well. I thought I had a good base under all my throws. I thought I threw it pretty accurately, for the most part.”

NFL teams that sent talent evaluators to watch him Monday included the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.

At least two CFL teams were represented as well: the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos.

The Colts are the only NFL team so far to have worked out Bridge privately. QBs coach Clyde Christensen came to Mobile a couple weeks ago.

“It went pretty well,” Bridge said. “He put me through some drills I’d never done, and put me in some unorthodox positions. I thought it went pretty well.”

Bridge said he has neither additional workouts (which would be in Mobile, not in Toronto) nor any team visits lined up as yet.

The NFL draft is April 30 to May 2 in Chicago. Bridge aims to become the first born-and-raised Canadian quarterback to be drafted since Jesse Palmer of Nepean, Ont., in 2001.

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Brandon

Brandon

Brandon

 

Bills ‘comfortable’ with re-signing ‘more professional’ Dareus, GM Whaley says

BILLS

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The prospect of signing star Marcell Dareus to a long-term deal looms in the Buffalo Bills’ short-term future.

GM Doug Whaley told Sun Media during the NFL’s annual meeting that the team believes the star defensive tackle’s personal troubles of a year ago are behind him.

From December 2013 through last July, Dareus:

  •     was benched twice for his serial tardiness;
  •     had two behind-the-wheel run-ins with the law in May: one in his home state of Alabama, the other for street racing near Buffalo in which he was lucky to survive after crashing his Jaguar.
  •     appeared overweight during OTAs and June mini-camp, and showed up for training camp out of shape, unable to take part in team activities.

But Dareus went on to have his most impactful season in four years as a pro, racking up 10 sacks as one of the league’s best interior defensive linemen. He was named to the Pro Bowl.

The 25-year-old got his act together, and Whaley said he expects that to continue.

“I think the maturity we saw this (past) year has us feeling that unless he has a relapse soon, that we’re pretty comfortable that he’s taking that step for him, as a professional, to be more professional,” Whaley said in an interview with Sun Media and ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

“He has taken those steps now.”

But the Bills are going to have to pay Dareus a mint if they want to keep him past this, the last (option) year of his rookie contract.

Does Ndamukong Suh’s new six-year, $114-million deal with the Miami Dolphins scare Whaley?

“Phew. Yes it does. It does. It definitely does,” Whaley said. “Hopefully we don’t have to go to that level.”

With Mario Williams still due to earn about half of the six-year, $96-million contract he signed in 2012, how can the Bills possibly afford to have a pair of near $100-million men on their D-line?

“I know. It’s scary,” Whaley said.

Stay tuned.

Whaley touched on a number of issues, including the one big question mark on the Bills roster — quarterback.

Here’s a partial transcript of the Q&A:

 

Is there as big a dropoff after the top two quarterback draft prospects, as everyone says? And might there be a surprise run on quarterbacks in the second, third and fourth rounds?

“I would say that there is a dropoff. I don’t think it’s as steep as a lot of people are saying. And the way the system is, with the new CBA and everything, and that position being so important, guys are going to get drafted higher. Because you might as well try to hit on a guy, and it’s not that big of a financial commitment, as in years past. So I think there will be a run on some guys maybe in the second and third round that (should be) a little lower.”

 

Seattle took an approach three years ago of landing the best free-agent QB in Matt Flynn, re-signing Tarvaris Jackson then drafting a QB in Russell Wilson. One of them worked out. Was that behind signing (ex-Raven backup) Tyrod Taylor, and if you should draft a fourth QB?
“Absolutely. Everybody knows it’s a quarterback-driven league. And until you can hit on a franchise guy, you might as well do your due diligence, (look under) any rock, and if you see a guy, bring him in. And competition raises the level of play of everybody, and also depth.

“So let’s say EJ (Manuel) comes through and you also have (Matt) Cassel and Tyrod. Then you have depth, and then you have some assets that you can maybe trade away later.”

 

Did the Bills make any attempt to acquire Drew Brees from the Saints?:
“We were not contacted by New Orleans or San Diego, about Brees or (Phil) Rivers.”

 

But did you contact them about those two quarterbacks?:
“No, we did not.”

 

Is it safe to say that you’ll probably pick up that fifth-year option on CB Stephon Gilmore in May and then try to figure out something after that?

“Yes. You can say that. … We talked about it.”

 

Salary-cap wise, I think you’re at $7 million in space. Is there room to sign anybody else?

“If we do, it would be like non-issue guys. Minimum guys. Just because we got to have room for our draft choices and then we also have to have some room for some injury replacements during the season. So we’re pretty much tapped out of the free-agent market.”

 

Have you pretty much moved on from Brandon Spikes?

“No, we’re going to reach out to him and I’m going to call him when I get back. Does it fit what we’re offering and where he is in his career? It would be good to have him back but again it’s got to be a fit on both parts. So we’re going to see where he is. I’d love to have him back.”

 

On not hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers (as originally planned) but rather the Cleveland Browns for a couple of practices at training camp, before playing a preseason game at Cleveland:

“The proximity and everything worked out. With the Steelers doing the Hall of Fame Game, they just couldn’t work it out in their schedule.”

Toronto’s NFL dream is not dead. It’s just not imminent. Or remotely easy. 3 power owners tell Sun Media why

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The NFL-in-Toronto dream is not dead. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for the “We’re coming to Canada!” news conference.

That’s the maple-flavoured takeaway from the league’s annual meeting, which wrapped here Wednesday morning.

We all thought, for all the world, that new Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula would fiercely fight any attempt to ever again bring an NFL franchise to Canada’s largest city.

What with having dropped $1.4 billion on the nearby Bills. And what with Ontarians now accounting for 22% of the crowd at Bills home games, a number that continues to rise.

But we thought wrong.

“I don’t think I would have a problem with it if they could support the team,” Terry Pegula told me exclusively on Tuesday, on Day 2 of the annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore resort.

“I believe I was asked that question when I was approved as an owner, and it was an affirmative answer to the league. I said I would support it if Toronto had a franchise.”

That was no less a bombshell takeaway: that the league wanted to ensure Toronto remains a new-market possibility, for down the road.

But how far down the road? And how can all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles ever be cleared to make it happen?

I asked commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday at his meeting-closing news conference to comment on Pegula’s surprise statement, and where Hogtown might stand on the NFL’s list of future market priorities.

“Terry is exactly right,” Goodell said. “He was asked (about Toronto) during the (sale) process, when he met with the finance committee, and he had the exact answer he told you. He doesn’t see that as an issue for him. His focus is on Buffalo … And he is incredibly focused on that and not concerned about Toronto.

“We continue our international development. We spend a great deal of time talking about our global opportunities here at this meeting. Toronto is an important market, but all of Canada is. And Mexico and the globe. So we’re aggressively marketing ourselves on a global basis.”

To delve deeper into the NFL’s thinking on Toronto, I interviewed three of the most prominent owners on Wednesday, all of whom are on the power-broker committee overseeing which team, or teams, relocate to Los Angeles.

All three said it’s not whether the league would like to have a team in Toronto. Rather, it’s how.

“I know everybody is interested in that market — the Toronto market,” said Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who’s also chair of the NFL’s finance committee.

“But at the same time, we’re not inclined to move from markets that really support their team. That’s the question. If a market gets a little tired and just can’t do it, then you have to look at other opportunities.”

Indeed, down the road — once LA is figured out, and all the dominos from that fall into place — it would be a matter of which owner of which bottom-tier franchise wants a greener pasture?

Because expansion is not a possibility in the short-term, and perhaps not even in the league’s long-term future. Every owner of note underscored that again this week, as did league executives. They think 32 teams is the perfect size. It works on the field and off — mathematically, financially, competitively.

“We haven’t had any discussion about expansion at this point,” New York Giants owner John Mara told me. “Whether that could happen in the future? Who knows.”

Just don’t count on it.

So Toronto would have to acquire a team via relocation.

The biggest obstacle — of many obstacles — is the same one Los Angeles experienced over the past 20 years in its quest to reacquire an NFL team, after the Rams and Raiders bolted in 1995.

That is, no one’s going to build a new stadium unless they’re sure the NFL will come, but the NFL won’t come unless they’re sure they’ll be a new stadium.

It’s a circular conundrum, about which the NFL’s decision-making owners are fully aware.

“It is circular,” McNair said. “(You) wouldn’t have to go out and build a stadium, and then try to get a team. But you’d have to be assured that the opportunity exists. And that’s just like Los Angeles, you know. You’ve got to be sure, No. 1, that you’re going to have a stadium.

“It’s fine to talk about it, but when it’s time to put the money up, will it really be there?”

Toronto’s Rogers Centre — where the Bills played their disastrous once-a-year games from 2008-13 — wouldn’t suffice. It becomes a baseball-only stadium when grass goes in by 2018, and in any event doesn’t meet NFL stadium criteria.

Further complicating the stadium matter is that the NFL no longer approves of third-party stadium builders — the first party being the team owner, the second being the public sector.

So if, for example, the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted to relocate to Toronto, owner Shad Khan would have to partner with governments in Canada — and no one else — to build the new stadium. Well, other than the NFL can kick in a loan for up to a couple hundred mil.

Rogers, nor MLSE, nor any other private company could build the new NFL stadium, unless the league makes a big exception.

Or maybe Khan, in the above example, could sell the team to Toronto billionaires and they’d buy the team and build the stadium all at once. For, oh, about three-billion. Yeah.

Could federal, provincial and municipal governments be convinced it would make economic sense for them to commit to devoting hundreds of millions to an NFL stadium? I’m told that argument can be made — but I doubt successfully.

Hell, the Toronto Argos — a Canadian sports institution founded in the mid 19th century — can’t claw even $10 million from the feds to help pay for a meagre-by-comparison expansion of Toronto’s MLS stadium to give them a place to play.

Among other hurdles:

  • What would happen to the CFL and the Argos, currently the three-down league’s wobblingest franchise?
  • The strength of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. greenback at the time of a potential move could prove onerous.
  • And, as Mara pointed out, the league insists that numerous other relocation guidelines be met.

“It’s a long road, to be sure,” Mara said.

So why are we even addressing this?

Well, first there’s this. Toronto’s NFL owner actually could recoup 100% of his lion’s-share portion of a new stadium entirely through seat licences. I’m told that’s what Jon Bon Jovi’s “Toronto group” — which also included Canadian billionaires Edward Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum — planned to do if they’d got the Bills.

Secondly, consider what Clark Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, told me.

“The Canadian market is very important to us,” he said. “With the Buffalo series ending in Toronto, it gives us an opportunity to step back and really re-think what the NFL should be doing in Canada. And perhaps long-term maybe (Canada should get a team). Toronto obviously would be the obvious one based on its size, but I really think we have a blank slate, and can approach it from whatever angle we think is best, both for the city and the NFL.

“It’s like a lot of things. Sometimes you just need patience. Toronto is a dynamic sports market — a big market that can certainly support an NFL team. So you never say never. Maybe down the road something can happen.”

Added Mara: “I don’t think it’s impossible. Or out of the question.”

It’s just not imminent. Or remotely easy.

 

Statue of Ralph Wilson coming to
stadium that bears his name

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Exactly one year after Ralph Wilson’s death, the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday announced that a statue of the NFL team’s devoted founder has been commissioned.

And it will be placed outside the stadium in Orchard Park that bears his name.

Wilson died on March 25 of last year at age 95. He had been the team’s only owner over its first 54 years.

“Mr. Wilson was an icon in both the professional football world and in the Western New York community,” current Bills co-owner Kim Pegula said. “This is our opportunity to honour his legacy and to allow our fans to share the game-day experience with the man who brought professional football to Buffalo.”

The statue will be displayed in the new Founder’s Plaza, northwest of The Bills Store at Ralph Wilson Stadium.​

Exclusive: Bills owner Terry Pegula not opposed to NFL franchise in Toronto

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula told Sun Media on Tuesday he would not oppose an NFL franchise in Toronto.

And the NFL not only knows it, but asked him about it when he bought the club.

Pegula and wife Kim purchased the Bills in October for $1.4 billion, far outbidding rocker Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto group, as well as billionaire celebrity mogul Donald Trump.

In so doing, the Pegulas scotched decades of worry in Western New York that the small-market franchise might be moved away — worst of all, to Toronto — by some carpet-bagging owner upon the death of franchise founder Ralph Wilson.

Wilson died last March 25.

PegulaPegula, a multi-billionaire, emphatically stated last fall that he and his family will see to it that the Bills remain in Buffalo for good.

That appeared to kill the dream of Torontonians who crave their own NFL team. Because, surely, Pegula would fight tooth-and-nail to block it, right?

Not so.

“I don’t think I would have a problem with it if they could support the team,” Pegula said after Tuesday morning’s sessions on Day 2 of the league’s annual meeting, at the Arizona Biltmore resort.

“It’s a big enough market. I don’t know how that works with the CFL, though.”

Really? Pegula does not possess a mindset of, ‘Hey, I’ve just paid all this money for the Bills, so the Toronto market’s out?’”

“No, no,” he said. “And I believe I was asked that question when I was approved as an owner, and it was an affirmative answer to the league. I said I would support it if Toronto had a franchise … There are a lot of people there.”

Indeed, six million people live in the Greater Toronto Area. About 8.5 million reside in the “Golden Horseshoe” that stretches from the eastern Toronto suburbs, around the western end of Lake Ontario, and through the Niagara region.

Only the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are more populous on this continent.

About 3 million alone live between Toronto-proper and Buffalo. That’s a population larger than the metropolitan centres of nearly half the NFL’s teams.

Pegula’s comment that the NFL sought his opinion on a co-existing Toronto franchise seems to jibe with what a high-placed source told Sun Media not long ago: that the NFL has not stroked Toronto off the list of potential new markets down the road.

Prospects of a future Toronto franchise aside, Pegula said the number of fans at Bills games who drive in from Central Ontario continues to rise, echoing what Bills president Russ Brandon told Sun Media on Monday.

“Yeah, 12% of our season-ticket holders and 22% of our receipts are from Ontario,” Pegula said. “We’re big into embracing Southern Ontario even more.”

Brandon said two years ago that the percentage of ticket-buying Bills fans from Ontario had grown to 18%, from 15% a couple of years before that — and that for the first time, Ontario fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium outnumbered those who drive in from Rochester, the club’s other major nearby support market.

Pegula agreed that more corporate boxes perhaps could be sold to Toronto corporations if a new stadium were built in downtown Buffalo, a half-hour’s drive closer to Toronto than the team’s current venue: “the Ralph” in the southern suburb of Orchard Park.

“Yeah, sure,” he said. “And (Central Ontario) is such a big part of our market area, because as you know, a big part of our market area is water. You draw a circle around Buffalo and you hit a lot of water (Lakes Erie and Ontario).”

NFL Canada conducted a survey four years ago that found the NFL is the second most popular sport, after NHL hockey of course, in all major Canadian cities, including Toronto.

I mentioned to Pegula that, unlike the Bills’ heavy fan following in Ontario’s Niagara Region, in Toronto-proper there probably now are as many fans of high-profile other teams — such as the Cowboys, Packers, Steelers and Patriots — as there are that root for the Bills. NFL Canada’s empirical research bears that out.

It’s a big reason the Bills-in-Toronto series failed, in my opinion, as I’ve argued.

Pegula cited what he sees at home games of the other pro-sports franchise he owns, the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.

“The Sabres have hockey fans in Ontario also, but there’s also that brand of Toronto fan that comes to Sabres-Maple Leaf games and roots for the Maple Leafs, so they can take over (First Niagara Center) at times.

“But in football, all of our Canadian supporters support the Bills. The people that come to the game are Bills fans, so it’s a little different breed than we see at the hockey games.”

To be clear, the NFL has no plans to expand. Executive vice-president Eric Grubman and powerful owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots both reaffirmed that to Sun Media on Monday. Three clubs — the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders — are vying to relocate to North America’s second largest market, L.A.

The league has made no secret that it covets international brand extension, and one day would like to have a franchise in Europe — probably London, England, where three regular-season NFL games a year are now played annually.

 

Owners Terry and Kim Pegula
deeply involved in Bills decisions
in ‘management by committee’ model

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Terry and Kim Pegula have been deeply involved with every move the Buffalo Bills have made this off-season.

So said Terry on Tuesday at the NFL annual meeting, in a rare interview.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rex Ryan pointed to the team’s husband-and-wife co-owners as the primary reason he chose to become the Bills’ head coach.

BILLSThe couple, who have generously spearheaded both a business and cultural renaissance in downtown Buffalo, not only come across in public as polite and humble, but, well, almost too kindly.

Don’t be fooled, Ryan said. They’re fiery competitors who want to win. Badly.

“They’re way more polished than I am,” Ryan said. “But there’s that burning desire, and they want it not just for themselves but they want it for their community. It’s just great to see and witness.

“But believe me, it’s there. That fire is there.”

Pegula explained to Sun Media how he and his wife funnel that passion as NFL owners.

“Yeah, we got involved in the free-agency stuff and the trades,” said Pegula, and oil-and-gas multi-billionaire. “We sat with the whole football department — coach (Ryan), GM (Doug Whaley), (president) Russ Brandon and (VP) Jim Overdorf.

“I’m one of these guys whose management style is ‘management by committee.’ We’re all stronger together than alone. It seemed to have worked in my life. It works well in sports too, if you have the right people.”

So if they are that involved, who ultimately is making final decisions on roster moves?
“Obviously, as the owner I guess I make the final decision,” Pegula said. “But if somebody feels real strong about something, we all sit and talk about it. That person can win, and it’s his call. That’s how we like to operate.

“We’re big on positive energy. Nobody’s thinking about the past. It’s all about the future. I know we’re excited, the coaches are working very well together, even though they sorta came from two different directions. The players seem to be genuinely excited too, so that’s a good thing.

“Now we’ve got to play.”

 

CFL’s defensive-pass interference rule wrongly portrayed at NFL meeting

PHOENIX, Ariz. – St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher on Monday mischaracterized the both status of CFL’s defensive pass-interference video reviews, and the number of successful overturns.

Fisher, the de facto co-chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, told a news conference at the NFL’s annual meeting that only 49 of 55 reviews last season in the CFL were initiated by coaches, that only six were overturned (11%), and that it was just a one-year experiment.

Not so.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning the CFL’s vice-president of officiating, Glen Johnson, said 17 of 55 reviews were overturned (31%). That’s what Sun Media colleague Kirk Penton reported months ago.

It broke down like this, Johnson said.

All 55 were coaches’ challenges. Forty-nine were to appeal for a flag when one was not thrown, and 15 of those non-calls were overturned into DPI calls. The other six challenges disputed the called DPI, and after review two of those flags were picked up.

Johnson furthermore said the CFL’s new rule last year expanding replay to include DPI calls and non-calls “wasn’t experimental in nature. We passed it as a firm rule.

“What I think Jeff meant — not to put words in his mouth — but it was just the first time that we did this … But our rules committee did not pass it as a one-year trial. They’d have to vote it out now.”

Johnson said the CFL rules committee meets Thursday to nail down this year’s rules, and there is no proposal to repeal the DPI replay rule. It’s staying.

It’s even possible the rule might even be expanded in 2015 to include offensive pass-interference calls and non-calls as well, Johnson said.

“It’s a possibility, yes.”

Johnson said coaches and teams were happy with the first-year result.

“We declared it a modest success. When you’re inventing something new there are always bumps in the road along the way. One of the things we struggled a bit with was getting to a consistent standard.

“You did one, so you had a standard. You did two, so now you’ve got two standards. Ultimately it took some time to get to a spot where it was becoming more predictable for coaches what our decision would be. It took some time to get there, but we’re in a good spot.”

CFL reviews are decided at the league’s centralized video-replay centre in Toronto, much like the NHL’s.

In the NFL, reviews ultimately are decided by the on-field referee, with help from the league’s centralized video operation in New York City. So in that regard, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

“We working pretty closely with those guys (in the NFL),” Johnson said. “We’ve been sharing our data. I’ve spent a fair bit of time with (NFL VP of officiating) Dean Blandino, talking about this and just being completely cooperative and transparent with our data.”