Ottawa is a great city.
If someone were to walk up to me and look me in the eye and say that one word, "Ottawa," that would be the first thing that would enter my mind.
I've been there a few times and always enjoyed it. Maybe because it is so clean, the French influence or maybe even the political influence. Long story short, it's pretty easy to like Ottawa and it was always a road trip as players we looked forward to.
There is also a CFL history there that should be revived, and could be a foundation of success.
Within the next two years I can say with confidence that every CFL fan would like to see, no let me add some emotion, LOVE, to see Ottawa back in the league. As the capital of the country it is a must, a priority, a desire, a focus.
But will it work? They will need to generate 25,000 fans to do that and be competitive in a league that always strives for those goals year after year - whether teams are new or not.
The easy response is yes - not a problem. It's also easy to say that this time - the third time - will be different, but let's be honest, this is a challenge. It's a challenge that will be immensely gratifying and create employment opportunities for many, but it will be a challenge just the same.
The positive aspects of this incarnation of Ottawa football is that the ownership and football facility, itself will both be progressive and maybe the best in the history of football in the city.
Not to sugar coat this, but there are many negatives, with perception being one and player talent being another. A consistent, competitive team is also a must.
The bottom line is that it is not going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it.
I realize not everyone likes football, either the NFL or CFL. In Ottawa, they're going to need to not only sell the game, but sell the sport. From the outside looking in, football looks stupid - it really does. There are certain plays certain moments that it just seems like a bunch of overweight, out of shape, excessively energetic people hitting each other for no reason.
I have had conversations like this many times with people that have no background with football and through these conversations I've concluded that in order to sell the game you have understand the game.
With other sports when you watch them from afar, they make sense or perhaps are easier to understand. To enjoy football you need a curiosity. You need to ask why they did this or that, and what may happen if you do this or that. How all the positions and players are different. People also need to be taught the rules, and yes there are a lot of them.
For me, creating a good, skilled athletic team is so important to make it work in Ottawa, but you have sell the game and its unique skills. Whenever the Winter or Summer Olympics arrive, I watch with intensity and surprising passion. I watch to see how my fellow Canadians do, how other countries do and because of the work involved to experience a moment and make the most out of it.
I also watch because I see sports I have never seen, or rarely get a chance to see. I watched more volleyball than I have ever watched this summer and through the broadcasters I now have a much better understanding of the game.
If I take the time to understand a sport, it's only a matter of time before I like the sport. Last June I took the time (forced by friends, actually) to watch the Euro Cup soccer in detail and to ask questions - and in the end I liked the sport.
The key for success in Ottawa is not attracting existing fans as much as new fans and kids and having people who understand and love the game share their interest.
I don't think the issue of success in Ottawa will be the city. I think the issue in Ottawa is clarity - clarity of the game and what happens when and why. It is tough to enjoy something you don't understand, but remember the saying, 'If you build it, they will come?'
I tend to think that with football in Ottawa it's more about, 'If you help them to understand it, they will come.'