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Inside the CFL: Winners off the field

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Clearly, it was the furthest thing from their minds.

The Toronto Argonauts recently unveiled a new ad campaign in Toronto.

The posters, placed in subway stations and in street cars, featured the slogan "Home is where the heart is. It's also where we hurt people."

The intent, of course, was to show that the Argos would play a rough style of football, making the Rogers Center an uncomfortable place for visiting teams.

However, not everyone saw it that way.

Mike Layton, a Toronto city councilor, sent a letter to the Argos, stating he felt the ad insinuated that domestic violence was OK.

In his letter to the Argos, Layton wrote, "In the context of domestic violence, the ad insinuates that domestic violence in the home is acceptable or normal. The ad may also trigger traumatic responses in the many survivors of domestic violence who are courageously moving forward with their lives."

For his part, the chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, Norm Kelly, said he had no problem with the ad.

The Argos claimed they received fewer than 10 complaints, but nevertheless, have decided to suspend the campaign.

In a touch of irony, the Argos are more active in the community than any other Toronto sports franchise, thanks in part to their anti-violence campaign. They've visited dozens of schools, talking to students about bullying and its repercussions.

Good for them for trying something new.

Shame on Layton for ending it.

The BC Lions also deserve a lot of credit for their anti-violence campaign.

The "Be More than a Bystander" initiative was unveiled last week. The program focuses on ending physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse against women.

Wally Buono, the Lions' general manager and head coach, plays a prominent role in the campaign.

And, he can speak from experience.

At the news conference, Buono recounted his own personal story as a boy growing up in Montreal.

The family moved to Montreal from Italy, when Buono was 3 years old.

His father died when he was eight. He and his brother were sent away as wards of the state for two years, until his mother, who spoke little English, could support them.

"The more I think about this whole program, the more emotional you can get about this. We (the Lions) were excited when this was brought to our attention, because this is something that has been going on for years and years. I know, in my own case, there was a time that an incident occurred in my own house that I had to deal with. Fortunately, I was old enough that I could deal with it on my mother's behalf."

Buono then broke down.

After a few seconds, he continued.

"I spoke to our team about this today. One thing I emphasized to them is that these women who are being abused are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives. Sometimes, we forget that it's good that we're part of this."

Even if the Argos and Lions don't win another game this season, they?re already winners.

Notes:

Week 1 of CFL games on the NFL Network has been a big success.

In 2010, NFL Network carried 14 CFL games.

This season, 10 games will be shown in the first five weeks of the regular season, with more games to be announced later.

"Last year's schedule of CFL games on NFL Network was well received by our fans," Lawrence Randall, NFL Network's director of programming told Inside the CFL. "Viewership for CFL games in July 2010 resulted in a 27-percent viewership increase over the comparable time period a year earlier."

The exposure for the CFL and its players can't be overemphasized. "Many of the players in the CFL played college football in the U.S., so our telecasts provide players' families and fans from their college days the opportunity to see them take the next step as professional football players," Randall noted.

And, the on-air hosts at the NFL Network have raved about the games as well.

"As former players, NFL Network's team of analysts have a great deal of respect for the competition in the CFL, which is where NFL Network analyst Joe Theismann began his career" Randall said. "Recent Hall of Fame inductee Warren Moon also got his start in the CFL, as did current Miami Dolphins star Cameron Wake."

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? ted@900chml.com.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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