This spring and summer no fewer than 13 Buffalo Bulls will be trying their hands at the NFL. From Khalil Mack as a 5th overall pick to Jasen Carlson who is taking a rookie tryout with the Bear,. it's going to be the most entertaining NFL pre-season that a Buffalo Bulls fan has ever had. It's also going to be stupid easy to get NFL content on the pages of Bull Run #TrafficAddict.
While the NFL offers football players the most money, the most pomp, and the biggest stage in the world there is a league to our north with considerably more history.
The Canadian Football league was founded in 1959 but its championship game, the Grey Cup, goes all the way back to 1909 when the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club squared off.
The trophy was designed for Canada's Hockey championship but was not selected for the honor. The Earl Grey, who commissioned the cup, then awarded it to the Canadian football champion. It has survived two wars, a fire, and a kidnapping. (None of that is satire, the trophy was stolen and held for ransom in the 40's).
Its history includes the "Mud Bowl," in which a player reportedly came close to drowning in a puddle, the 1962 "Fog Bowl," when the final nine minutes of the game had to be postponed to the following day due to a heavy fog, and the 1977 "Ice Bowl," contested on the frozen-over artificial turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
During a brief southward expansion the CFL added American teams and one of those teams, the Baltimore Stallions, won the Cup in 1995.
I have had a love/hate relationship with Canadian football. On one hand they poached UB coach Frank Claire back during the Golden Era of UB Football; on the other, guys like Ramon Guzmon and Drew Willy have hoisted the Grey Cup.
This year there are four Buffalo Bulls suiting up for the CFL games, which begin in June. They are:
Drew Willy (QB - 2008) and Willie Moseley (LB - 2012) who are suiting up for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Willy was one of the quarterbacks for last years Grey Cup champions in Saskatchewan. He was the backup but started, and won, multiple games when the team needed him.
You'll all remember EJ, Ernest Jackson (WR - 2010). The Buffalo wide receiver played in the shadow of Naaman Roosevelt but now he is playing for British Columbia. A second UB receiver - Natey Adjei (WR - 2013) - was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts.
I suspect if some of the seven UB Bulls trying out in NFL camps don't make the 53 man roster this year that they will end up playing in Canada. Many guys in the CFL are players who just miss out on the NFL. They can go north and have a nice career playing the game they love. Warren Moon and Doug Flutie are two of the bigger names you might recognize.
Ok so now you're interested and you want to watch the games! So what is different about Canadian Football?
The dimensions of the fields vary between the two leagues. The field size in the NFL from the goal line to goal line is 100 yards. The midfield line is considered to be at the 50 yard line. On the other hand, from goal line to goal line in the CFL, the 55 yard line is midfield. Also the CFL end zone is a bit deeper.
In the CFL the offense has 12 and the defense has 12 players respectively on the field at one time. In the CFL, the offense has 3 downs to make a first down, score a touchdown or kick a field goal.
The CFL has Rouge: a 1 point play related to the kicking game.
- Kicking team misses a field goal or punts the football and the receiving team catches the football and decides not to run out of their own end zone. The kicking team will receive 1 point.
- Kicking team misses a field goal or punts the football and the ball goes out of bounds in the end zone. The kicking team will receive 1 point.
There are a lot of other subtle difference but those are the ones that most Americans will notice.
Over the next few days Bull Run will be profiling of Buffalo's Alumni in the CFL. Plan on checking into Bull Run for updates and watching some CFL football this summer.