The Canadian Football League Players Association (“C.F.L.P.A.”) was established in 1965 and has since that time represented the professional football players in the Canadian Football League (“C.F.L.”) with the objective of establishing fair and reasonable working conditions for the players. Much of what players take for granted today has been earned through hard-fought negotiations with the C.F.L.
Prior to the C.F.L.P.A. forming in 1965, professional football players in Canada had little protection or benefits. Injured players were often released while under contract, medical benefits were poor, there was no pension plan, player contracts were not standard across the C.F.L. and pre-season and post-season compensation was non-existent. Coaches and management could, in effect, do what they wanted, when they wanted, any time they wanted. Only the “star” players had any power.
Things began to change in 1965 when 9 player representatives from all nine C.F.L. teams flew to Toronto to meet with John Agro, Q.C. who became the first Legal Counsel for the C.F.L.P.A.. They discussed their concerns about playing conditions, the one-sided Standard Player’s Contract, and the lack of player’s rights. John Agro continued as Legal Counsel for the C.F.L.P.A. until 1974 when Edward Molstad, Q.C. assumed the role, however, John continued to act as General Counsel and Special Advisor until his death in 1998. The C.F.L.P.A. through negotiations with the C.F.L. has established the John Agro Special Teams Player Award which was first presented in memory of John Agro at the Grey Cup Awards Ceremony in 1999.
Prior to this inaugural meeting, a letter had been sent to all active players in the C.F.L. The letter outlined the formation of the C.F.L.P.A. which would attempt to negotiate on behalf of all players in the areas of pension plan, pre-season and post-season pay, and the contents of the Standard Player‟s Contract. In response to this letter 251 players in the C.F.L., representing 80% of the active players, stated they would join the C.F.L.P.A.
At this meeting, Gary Schreider, of the Ottawa Rough Riders, was elected as the first President of the C.F.L.P.A. The current President of the C.F.L.P.A. is Solomon Elimimian.
(Subsequent Presidents of the C.F.L.P.A. include Mike Wadsworth, Greg Finlay, George Reed, Ed Chalupka, George Reed, Dan Ferrone, Stu Laird, Mike Morreale, Scott Flory and Jeff Keeping)