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Edmonton Eskimos Is Winning Enough?

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Edmonton Eskimos Is Winning Enough?


This past week Len Rhodes of the Edmonton Eskimos hired and introduced Brock Sunderland as the newest general manager of the Eskies. With the hiring, Rhodes doused the blaze he set earlier in April with the firing of Sunderland’s predecessor and controversial fan favourite Ed Hervey. Eskie fans have expressed a sense of relief with the hiring of highly-qualified Sunderland over other general manager retreads being bandied about in media circles.
Sunderland Builds on Foundation

Sunderland was gracious at his introduction news conference saying, “This staff is full of very good people, who have a high level of football acumen, so I feel my role coming in now is (to) simply keep the ship afloat and moving forward as opposed to coming in and making drastic changes.” Essentially this acknowledges how far the Eskimos football operations has come in the last three years. Esks fans hope that Sunderland can build off this foundation taking the Eskies to the next level annual Grey Cup contender. Only time will tell if he is the next Norm Kimball or Hugh Campbell.

The Montana native required the Eskies to pay compensation to Ottawa Redblacks necessitating the Eskies pay 2.5 times in general manager salaries for 2017 for the change. Yet, it might all be worth it as Sunderland is a highly skilled pro football talent evaluator. This skill was developed through hard work and experience during his two CFL stints and time in the NFL.

From 2004 to 2007 he ascended through the scouting organization of the Montreal Alouettes to become the director of scouting. His work with the Als set the table for five Grey Cup appearances by Montreal, winning two. Following in his fathers’ footsteps Sunderland spent 2007-12 in various scouting capacities with the New York Jets of the NFL. Then the return to the CFL in 2013 where he held the position of Ottawa assistant general manager until last week. Sunderland ran Ottawa's expansion draft, their CFL draft and helped build a quality talent base allowing Ottawa to win the Grey Cup last year.

Is Winning Enough?

Rhodes is quoted in saying, “Yes, we did win a Grey Cup, but it’s not enough …” and this has drawn the ire of Eskie fans. What Rhodes has attempted to clarify, albeit in a clumsy manner, is that he believes winning doesn’t increase the audience. Rhodes is betting that other factors will increase the audience and not just a winning on field product.

One of those other factors is media gaining insider knowledge on personnel that they can publish for the masses. The hope is drama will increase interest and result in a larger audience size either in the stadium, on the radio or watching on television. In turn, bigger audiences mean bigger sponsorship dollars. If those sponsorship dollars flow direct or pass through the TV rights holder is irrelevant. However, these dollars are directly linked to the audience size and will eventually shrink as the audience shrinks.