Godfrey ready to leave Jays?

By Perry Lefko, Sportsnet.ca

Rumours are circulating that Paul Godfrey could be stepping down as president of the Toronto Blue Jays to devote his full-time attention towards a bid to bring a National Football League franchise to Toronto.

In fact, one source told Sportsnet.ca an announcement could happen on Nov. 2, coinciding with the end of the World Series should it go the full seven games.

Godfrey is vacationing out of the country and could not be reached for comment. He is not scheduled to return to work until after October 29th.

Bob McCown, the drive-show host of Toronto all-sports radio station The Fan 590, reported on Monday there is a search firm that is already canvassing for candidates to replace Godfrey.

Godfrey joined the Blue Jays as president when Ted Rogers, chairman of Rogers Communications, bought the team in November, 2000. At the time of the purchase Rogers indicated a desire to buy a Canadian Football League franchise and potentially an NFL team. He has not attempted to buy a CFL team, but is part of a consortium actively seeking to buy an NFL team or acquire one somehow. Godfrey is the frontman for the group which also includes: builder Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of the board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.; fellow MLSE board member Dale Lastman, who is a lawyer; and some members of the group that were part of the now-defunct Toronto Phantoms in the Arena League in 2001 and 2002.

Rogers Communications had a 51% ownership in the Phantoms. The team had Godfrey’s son, Rob, as president. Rob Godfrey joined the Blue Jays operation thereafter and had worked his way up to senior vice-president, business operations, before departing at the start of this year. Paul Godfrey took over his son’s duties after he left.

Paul Godfrey would be the president and chief executive officer of a Toronto-based NFL team or initiative designed to bring a team here in some capacity.

Godfrey has personally led the drive for a Toronto-based NFL franchise for almost 30 years. What seemed like a far-fetched thought is now moving closer towards a possible reality — and the key word is possible — with the news that the Buffalo Bills want to play a pre-season game and regular-season game in Toronto beginning in 2008 and for the remainder of their current lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It ends in 2012.

The games would be played at the Rogers Centre. There have been active discussions between members of the Godfrey group and Ralph Wilson, the Bills’ 89-year-old owner, earlier this month, triggering the Bills’ surprising announcement last week of their intent to play games in Toronto.

Concurrent with that news, the Bills’ games are now available on the Fan 590.

The Bills’ proposal will be discussed but not voted on today at the NFL fall meeting in Philadelphia.

There is speculation the Bills may eventually be relocated to Toronto for possibly two years if the franchise receives approval and funding in Buffalo to build a new stadium, which would include a retractable roof. The theory is that after the stadium is built, the team would move back to Buffalo and Toronto would be considered for a future expansion franchise.

It is well-known that the Godfrey group will make a bid to buy the Bills following the death of Wilson, who has said the team will be sold to the highest bidder as part of his estate planning.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.