A busy start to Jeffrey Orridge's tenure as CFL commissioner

TORONTO (AP) -- Jeffrey Orridge hasn't had long to settle into his job as the CFL's 13th commissioner.

Since taking office April 29, he has overseen the extension of the league's Canadian network TV deal with TSN through 2021; announced Shaw Communications as the presenting sponsor of this year's Grey Cup; oversaw the sale of the Toronto Argonauts; and severed the CFL's partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports to administrate its drug policy.

With the CFL season opening this week, Orridge's focus now turns to football - and his plans to take in the home opener of all nine league teams.

''It has exceeded my expectations,'' Orridge said. ''There were many things set in place before I came in and all I had to do was give a bit of direction and blessing and contribute where I could.

''I wouldn't have it any other way.''

The 54-year-old New York native left his position as executive director of sports and general manager of Olympics at CBC to become the CFL's first black commissioner. The only real question Orridge faced on the job was Toronto's future, which was secured last month when the Argonauts were sold.

Toronto plays at Rogers Centre this season before moving into a refurbished BMO Field in 2016.

''In years past there've been periods in our history where we've been lurching from crisis to crisis,'' Orridge said. ''Now, there's an opportunity to grow and build and particularly shore up our existing franchises.

''Toronto is particularly important to the league because Toronto ... is the hub of commercial flow, media activity and has the greatest number of potential audience in southern Ontario.''

A top priority for Orridge is attracting younger fans to the CFL. Last month, the league unveiled a partnership with Whistle Sports, a multi-channel digital network with millions of subscribers on various platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.

Orridge joined the CFL with an extensive sports background. At CBC, he oversaw rights acquisitions, including the Olympics and the upcoming Pan Am Games.

He also was chief operating officer at the Right To Play charity and also worked at Mattel Inc., Reebok and USA Basketball.

''I think there's a lot I've learned in the course of my last 20-something years of sports-related experience that I can readily apply here,'' he said. ''Obviously I want to expand our reach and bring this game to as many people as possible.

''We're obviously looking to engage a younger demographic and attracting new fans but keeping the ones we already have, those hardcore, die-hard CFL fans who've grown up with it for generations . . . meeting their expectations and exceeding their expectations while also attracting a younger demographic and getting the casual fans involved as well.''

The CFL adopted rule changes this offseason to boost offense and scoring.

Extra point kicks moved back 20 yards to the 32, while 2-point conversions moved up 2 yards to the 3. Also, defensive backs can't contact receivers more than 5 yards downfield, and on punts the five interior linemen on the kicking team can't leave the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

The CFL season opens Thursday night with the Ottawa Redblacks visiting the Montreal Alouettes. Calgary begins its title defense Friday, hosting Hamilton in a Grey Cup rematch. The Stampeders edged the Tiger-Cats 20-16 in the championship game in November.

Since 1996-97, Toronto and Montreal are the only teams to win consecutive Grey Cups.