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Toronto mayor Rob Ford is photographed during an interview in his City Hall office on Dec, 21, 2010. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto mayor Rob Ford is photographed during an interview in his City Hall office on Dec, 21, 2010. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Ford Bros. talk up Toronto's potential as NFL destination Add to ...

After Toronto Mayor Rob Ford spoke at Monday's launch for Toronto's 100th Grey Cup festival plans, he and his brother were peppered with questions about their crusade to land an NFL team.

Both the mayor and his brother, Etobicoke North City Councillor Doug Ford, insisted they support both the CFL and the NFL, and they believe the leagues could coexist in Toronto.

"I like both. I think both leagues are great," said the mayor, disagreeing that a Toronto NFL team could hurt fan support for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. "There are a lot of football fans here. I'm here today to support the CFL."

The mayor spoke of his excitement for Toronto's 100th Grey Cup Festival and the financial boom that will result from the game in 2012 and the nine-day festival that will celebrate it.

But the Ford brothers have often made headlines by saying the are chasing an NFL team and trying to host a Super Bowl. The city councillor said earlier this month Toronto may acquire the Saints from New Orleans, which prompted the Saints to issue a press release calling the notion "completely false."

The city councillor said Monday he doesn't believe he lost face with the NFL via those comments about the Saints, for which he apologized after the Saints' statement. He now says his comments were "off the cuff."

But Monday, the councillor maintained that he's confident an NFL team will be coming to Toronto in the coming years.

"I can't answer [when] but I'll tell you one thing, before our four-year term is up, hopefully we'll have an NFL team here," said Doug Ford, whose term will be up in 2014. "We're pretty confident. How can the NFL keep ignoring the fourth-largest market in North America? They can't, five-six million people. There are small little markets in the NFL, like Jacksonville, that are struggling, that can barely crack 20,000 a game."

According to the 2010 NFL football attendance records, the Jaguars averaged 63,032 fans per home game, good for 24th in the league out of the 32 teams.

Doug Ford said he has not gotten any phone calls from the Jacksonville Jaguars regarding his public comments about their franchise.

The councillor maintained that partnerships could be formed between the CFL and NFL, suggesting double-headers or collaborative ticket sales.

"I'm a big supporter of the CFL, it's first and foremost right now. But if there's an opportunity to have a Fortune 500 company come to town to create thousands and thousands of jobs, and support the CFL, that would be great," said the councillor. "What's the No. 1 issue with the CFL? It's not fans, it's not loyalty. It always comes down to the money. What better company to come along than the NFL to help support the CFL."

The councillor added that he thinks the Bills games at Toronto's Rogers Centre haven't been better attended because that is not Toronto's team, but that there are plenty of football fans in the city to support a Toronto NFL team. He says the NFL currently views the city of Toronto as "fabulous."

"Their No. 1 choice is L.A. You take a guess who their No. 2 choice is."

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