Mark Steven Cohon, OOnt is the 12th and current commissioner of the Canadian Football League. The son of McDonald's Canada founder George Cohon, he was appointed in 2007 succeeding Tom Wright. Cohon was born in Chicago, Illinois, and moved to Toronto, Ontario when he was two years old. He is a graduate of Upper Canada College and Northwestern University with a Bachelors of Science majoring in communication studies and worked at the NBA as head of international marketing and Major League Baseball International as head of corporate development. before becoming President and chief executive officer of AudienceView Ticketing, a company which sells ticketing systems and services to sports, arts and entertainment events. In 2002, Cohon married Suzanne Elizabeth Lucido. In 2003, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Ontario Science Centre and then named Chair in 2006. In 2013, he was made a Member of the Order of Ontario.
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Hi CFL fans, it's Commissioner Mark Cohon. I am happy to join you today to answer your questions as the 102nd Grey Cup inches closer and closer. So feel free to ask me almost anything. I will be here for an hour starting at 6 PM ET.
FYI: I've only got 8 minutes left to answer questions!
That's it for me everyone! I hope to see you all at my Fan State of the League on Friday at 11am PT at the Fairmont Waterfront ballroom. Enjoy Grey Cup week!
Any plans for a CFL video game? Or partnering with the Madden franchise?
Over the years, we've had discussions with EA, and the business case thus far has never supported a CFL console game. But we are committed to adding new mobile games and apps over the years to come for our fans.
To most outside of Canada, the NFL is the be-all and end-all of professional football.
Given the plethora of sports channels across the world, could us UK viewers maybe see some CFL at some point?
What strategies do you have for growing international awareness of the brand?
Our focus is on the US with our partnership with ESPN. One way or another, we'll get the game to our UK fans next season.
Mr. Cohon, first a big hello from everyone over at /r/CFL!! Thank you for your years of unwavering service and unfathomable belief in our little league.
My question for you today is in regard to one of the most pressing issues that the CFL faces today and that is Toronto. I personally believe that Toronto could once again a thriving hub for CFL football. What are the current steps the CFL is taking to ensure that the Toronto market will weather its current storm and survive? Much of what we have seen in the media is finger pointing at particular parties and conjecture of how "CFL football CAN'T work in Toronto".
As a REDBLACKS fan I've seen how amazing ownership can help a team thrive in a market where it seems to be a failure.
Thank you for coming to talk to us over here at Reddit :D!
Bonus Question: When can we expect the Atlantic Schooners to set sail!?
There are ongoing conversations about moving the Argos to BMO Field. If we can change the in-stadium experience for the Argos, I think it can be wildly successful. We did it in Hamilton and Ottawa...we can do it in Toronto. Thanks for your support!
Do you think there will ever be a CFL team in Moncton or is Halifax Atlantic Canada's best shot at getting a franchise?
Halifax probably has the best shot. But a stadium has to be built, and an ownership group has to step forward and express real interest. I know we have great fans in Atlantic Canada, and we hope to return to the region for future Touchdown Atlantics.
Hi Mr. Cohon,
What are some reasons that an American football fan (NFL and NCAA) should watch the CFL more regularly and how does someone in the Southeast US get access to do this?
Every game is on ESPN3, and the Grey Cup is on ESPN2 this Sunday! Watching the game should turn you into a fan.
I understand that due to the physical nature of the sport and the threat of injury, international competition would be difficult, but has there been any talks between your office and the NFL on the possibility of a game between the CFL and the NFL?
How likely is something like this to happen within the next 5 years?
We haven't had any conversations about matchups between CFL and NFL teams.
After you step down as Commissioner, will you continue to watch/attend CFL games?
ABSOLUTELY. I might even have a pint or two!
In a world where you have to make a choice, which would you choose:
...fight 100 duck sized Jon Cornish's, or one Nik Lewis sized Jon Cornish?
I think I'd rather fight 1000 cornish hens!
Hi Mr. Cohon,
I have a couple questions for you today:
1) What is your favourite grey cup match-up that took place in your tenure as Commissioner
2) Who is your all time favourite player in the CFL? Past or present.
1) The most memorable Grey Cup was clearly the '09 matchup in Calgary between the Riders and the Als.
2) He knows it, I've always said Tony Gabriel.
When I'm no longer Commissioner, ask me who my present favourite is!
There have been other great commissioners in professional sports but I don't believe there has ever been a stronger advocate for equal rights than you. Under your leadership, the CFL became one of the first leagues to support the the YCP Project and the Huddle Up Prevention Program. The CFL also continues their efforts on the field through fines and objectionable conduct penalties to ensure everyone is
treated with safety and respect. A couple questions:
1. Why was it important for you to make these social issues a
priority? Does it make you proud that your legacy as commissioner will extend beyond football?
2. Do you ever think about how many lives (most you won't ever hear about) that you saved and/or helped because of your words and actions? Or how many amateur athletes that continue to play football because of your ability to get other great guys like Jon Cornish to become positive role models?
3. If you had the chance, what would you say to the first openly gay CFL player?
Many will remember you for bringing the Redblacks a franchise or Hamilton a stadium but I believe your biggest accomplishment was to let fans know that it is okay to be who they are. I can't express in words how much of a positive impact you made for fans like me. Thank you for being my favourite commissioner of all time.
Thanks for your great support. I want to answer Question #3. It would be one word: Welcome to our league.
Mr. Commissioner, please give me an advantage in my bet with a friend:
What are the odds you'll wear a red tie during the Grey Cup trophy presentation ceremony on Sunday?
What did you bet? And what did you predict?!
I've got two cartons of chocolate milk riding on you wearing a red tie.
Not trying to bribe you, but I would gladly give you one if I win.
Sorry, it's gray.
Hello Mr. Commissioner! Thank you so much for doing this!
1) Where do you see the CFL in 5 years?
2) Reflecting on your time as CFL boss, what is one thing you would've done differently?
3) Got any hidden talents?
1) Stronger than ever with new stadiums and millions of people watching on TV, iPads and whatever the new device is!
2) I don't have a lot of regrets.
3) I'm not a bad dancer!
What was the highest level of football you have played? High school? College? NFL or CFL?
I captained my high school team, was recruited to play in university but I blew out my knee.
What piece of advice would you give a budding sports journalism student?
Follow your passion, and if you love the CFL...start blogging.
According to the excellent cfldb.ca, the average player salary is closer to $80,000.
Actually, with the new CBA it's closer to $100,000.
Do you remember when Douglas Mitchell did "Ask the Commissioner" in the mid-80's? (I still have my CFL '86 Stats book from when I sent in my question as a youngster.) If so, how cool do you think it is that history repeats itself like this?
Didn't know about that...very cool!
What are your thoughts of having a fixed CFL schedule for example Fridays 7ET 10ET and Saturdays at 4ET and 7ET?
If we could create appointment viewing, that would be great. We love our Friday Night games.
Hey Mark, what's the status on the Argos' search for a new home? Is it actively ongoing or are they taking a wait and see approach?
Ongoing discussions with MLSE to determine whether we can move the Argos into BMO Field.
But can you breakdance Mr Commissioner?
I can break something dancing...
Hello Commissioner, this AMAA has been so prolific that I hope my question hasn't been answered already. Barring active players, who do you think was the best QB to play in the CFL?
In the modern era, it has to be AC.
What do you think about the state of the CFL today?
We are in a strong stable place now and the new Commissioner will have a long runway to be innovative and engage with millions of fans.
What movie should I watch tonight?
If you could pick ANYONE (alive/dead, real/fictitious) to replace you as Commissioner, who would you pick?
Tough question...let me get back to you!
Thank you for the excellent work you've done for the CFL during your tenure, and I truly believe the CFL will be poorer with your absence.
My questions are:
Do you view the pass interference replay challenge as a success? I liked the idea when it was first proposed, but after of watching challenges being upheld or overturned I'm more befuddled than ever as to what constitutes pass interference.
Secondly, as an Esks season ticket holder I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about the persistent rumours that there was CFL pressure placed on the Esks to trade Ricky Ray to Toronto. Since you're on the way out the door there's no harm spilling the beans now :)
As I said the first time, we only approve the trades, we don't initiate the trades.
Who is your favourite Canadian pop music star? Or what is your favourite band?
New band: Sheepdogs.
Old band: RUSH!!!!!
Does the CFL have any plans to work closer with the CIS to help develop amateur Canadian football talent?
There are ongoing conversations with the CIS to figure out how we can collaborate. Whether it's officiating or testing new rules...it makes sense to work closely.
To follow up on this question, what are your thoughts on concussion sensors? Any new technology that will be used next season to ensure the safety of all players?
We're focused on the Safe Contact program to teach kids how to tackle properly. I would absolutely allow my daughter and my nephew to play the game if they wanted to. http://safecontact.footballcanada.com/
Commissioner Cohon, there must be some aspects of the job that are fun, but don't always get the most publicity compared to your more public announcements and interactions with fans.
What's a part of your job that you really, really love, but the media or fans wouldn't know about?
I really enjoy thinking about how we market and position our brand.
Did you know your surname is pronounced almost like the spanish word for "testicle" (cojón)?
No offense intended, seriously. ♥
Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Growing up as a kid in Toronto, because my mom was from Buffalo, I was more of a Bills fan.
Is the CFL going to keep pass interference calls as reviewable next year?
In the off-season, we're going to evaluate it with the GMs, Presidents and Board of Governors. The important question to answer is: did it help us get it right more often.
What's one thing that CFL fans might not know about the job of Commissioner?
How diverse the job is. I can be a media spokesperson, to disciplinarian, to negotiating business deals. There are so many different aspects to this job.
Are there any major regrets you have?
I won't have the cool "Commish" title when I'm done!
Who's going to win the Vanier Cup this weekend?
The team that scores the most points!
What would you like your legacy as Commissioner to be?
That I left the league in a much better place and that I really connected with the fans.
How often do you get told that you resemble a (slightly) older Mark Wahlberg?
Not Mark Wahlberg, but people tell me I look like Michael C. Hall (Dexter)...that's a little creepy.
When can we expect the CFL to lose the East / West divisions?
I don't see that happening any time soon. But it's something for the governors to contemplate.
Proudest moment as commissioner?
Favorite thing either of your parents ever cooked?
Favorite vacation spot?
Favorite TV show?
Thing your looking forward to most with stepping down as commissioner?
1: 100th Grey Cup celebrations.
2: Mom's meatloaf.
3: South Africa.
5: Time with my family.
Thank you for doing this Mr Cohon!
A few questions for you:
Forgive my ignorance from here on in
Do you watch other leagues/sports? If so:
Any favourite players? Why?
Do you watch and see if you can incorporate anything into the CFL?
There is a large debate over the expansion of the NFL (starting with the London games).
Do you see the CFL expanding overseas, whether through broadcasting of domestic games or even playing games abroad?
What are the pros/cons from your point of view?
1: I watch the NBA, I used to work there, so I love watching the Raptors. I really like Lowry, because he's all about hustle. Always looking at other leagues in North America and around the world for ideas, just like they look at us.
2: I can see more broadcasting internationally, and maybe in the future an exhibition game to expand our reach. Our focus is to continue to build in Canada.