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In February unexpected news was made when an American group, led by ex-NFL receiver Oronde Gadsden, announced their intentions to pursue a franchise in the CFL. Citing the suspension of the 2009 season of the Arena Football League and the demise of NFL Europe as a potential opportunity for growth the US market, Gadsen's group highlighted either Detroit-Windsor or Rochester, New York as possible locations for a new team. Reaction from the CFL with respect to Gadsen's intentions was mixed, however, with league head office iterating a reluctance to return to US expansion while Montreal Alouettes owner, Robert Wetenhall, welcoming the concept of bids involving border regions (Wetenhall's Alouettes spent two years in Baltimore in the 1990s, though under American ownership; Wetenhall purchased the team after it moved to Montreal).
Several main rule changes were proposed for 2009 by fans at the request of CFL commissioner Mark Cohon. The following changes were implemented:
The elimination of the option for the scored-upon team to scrimmage from its 35-yard line after field goals, which was first enacted in 1975. This was said to add excitement by preventing a team up by six points to scrimmage and take a knee three times to effectively end the game with one minute to go. Although it had good intentions, the results for this rule change was not as expected, and for the 2010 CFL season, the league reinstated the option again.
Kickoffs being from the 25-yard line rather than the 35-yard line following a safety: the average kickoff in 2008 went 60 yards downfield, while the average kickoff return was 21 yards, making the option between scrimmaging and receiving kickoffs a wash.
Video replays for coaches challenges will now ordinarily be reviewed at a command centre in the CFL's office in Toronto rather than in the video replay booth on the field. As well, if a team is successful in its two replay challenges, they will be awarded a third one.
Other rule changes considered included moving the kickoff back 10 yards for all kicks (not just following safeties), and moving the ball back during conversions.
Hall of Fame induction weekend
For only the second time in its 39-year history, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction weekend events did not take place in Hamilton, Ontario, the home of the museum. It took place in Winnipeg from September 24 to 26, finishing with the tribute game between the Blue Bombers and Argonauts on September 26.
Byes in the two weeks preceding the Labour Day Classic games were retained, however the byes were changed so as to ensure that each pair of Labour Day Classic opponents will have equal rest as opposed to splitting the byes by division.
West Division Retro Jerseys
East Division Retro Jerseys
As the league approaches the 100th Grey Cup, the CFL celebrated the 1960s with all eight teams wearing retro-themed uniforms from that era at different points in the season. All teams wore their retro uniforms in Week 3. The Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Calgary Stampeders were the only teams to wear both home and away retro uniforms, while the remaining teams wore one set of uniforms. The BC Lions wore their black alternate jerseys in combination with their retro pants and helmets for a "retro look," but did not introduce new home retro jerseys.