I have said in a previous post how much respect I have for the Globe's Dave Naylor. Here is a piece from his blog today about what cutdown day is like in the CFL. Read on.....
With today and Thursday being cutdown days in the CFL, it’s worth reflecting a little bit on what just might be one of the most difficult processes in professional sports – both for players and management.
For there is nothing as ruthless in sports as cutting a pro football player.
There is no minor-league team to be assigned to, no guaranteed contract to be paid out. Players hit the street, plain and simple.
Here’s how players are cut during training camp. The coaches will tell a member of the team’s staff to book plane flights home in the names of all the players who are on the bubble. Then after the coaches meet and decide who stays and who goes, they cancel the tickets of those who are staying and confirm the ones of those who’ve been cut.
Then in the middle of the night, the staff member will go to the player's locker and collect everything, usually in a green garbage bag, so the player does not even have to go back into the locker room.
Then the player gets a knock on his door at about 5 a.m. and is told “coach wants to see you.”
After a short exit meeting with the coach, players are handed the bags that contain the items from their lockers, their plane tickets home and are shuttled to the airport where they take early morning flights out of town.
Most are gone before their former teammates hit the field for morning practice.
The final cutdown usually happens not so drastically.
But the process of players being handed green garbage bags and sent out on the street still stands. I can remember in 1995, while covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders, watching players come out of the locker room carrying those green bags, heads down, some of them knowing this was the end for good, that they would never strap on the cleats again.
There was a linebacker that year named Gord Webber, a Canadian guy who had played at the University of Ottawa and for a while with the Rough Riders. He came out of the locker room, smiled at the gathered media and then just kept walking. I watched him disappear down the road that led from Taylor Field to Albert Street in Regina, green garbage bag in hand, never to be heard from in CFL circles again.
I thought to myself, “Wow, for ever football player who says goodbye with a press conference, congratulations all-around and handshakes from every direction, there are a couple of hundred that go out like Gord Webber did that day.”