CFL wants a chance to put the kick back in CBS' Sundays

December 24, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

The Canadian Football League is interested in talking to CBS about filling the void caused by the network's loss of its NFC package, CFL commissioner Larry Smith said yesterday.

"I haven't contacted them directly myself, but I'm not going to lie to you and say we're not going to contact them," Smith said.

CBS hasn't made a decision yet on Sunday afternoon programming now that it has lost the NFC package to Fox, starting next season.

Robin Brendle, a CBS publicist, said yesterday, "I'm not aware of any contact with the CFL, and our plans for the fall have yet to be determined."

One CBS source indicated it was unlikely the network would be interested in the CFL. The network televised a few CFL games during the 1982 players strike, but abandoned them because of low ratings.

Smith said the games televised during the strike weren't a true test for the CFL. "You're in a tremendously different position broadcasting during a strike, when the fans want to know when the strike is going to end and they can get back to normal business," Smith said.

Smith also says the CFL could become more attractive to CBS now that it is expanding into the United States. The league

placed a team in Sacramento, Calif., last year and has awarded one to Las Vegas for 1994. It wants to put a team in Baltimore in 1994, and prospective owner Jim Speros wants to get a lease from the city to use Memorial Stadium. Smith said the timetable is to have eight to 10 U.S. teams by 1998, although that schedule could be moved up.

Smith said he thinks Americans could grow to like the wide-open Canadian game, which features only three downs.

The CFL has a contract with ESPN2 for 18 regular-season games next year, plus the Grey Cup, the league's championship game. This year, it had a contract with SportsChannel America, but CFL officials hope to get more exposure on ESPN2.

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