133px-CFL Logo svg

The Canadian Football League or CFL (Ligue canadienne de football [LCF] in French) is a professional sports league located in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, a form of gridiron football closely related to American football.

Its eight teams, which are located in eight cities, are divided into two divisions of four teams each — the East Division and the West Division. The league's 19-week regular season runs from late June to early November; each team plays 18 games with one bye week. Following the regular season, the three teams with the best records in their division (except if the fourth place team in one division has a better record than the third place team in the other division, the team with the better record makes the playoffs and "crosses over" to the other division's playoff) will compete in the league's three-week divisional playoffs, which culminate in the late-November Grey Cup championship, the country's largest annual sports and television event.[1]

The CFL was officially founded in 1958. It is the highest level of play in Canadian football, the most popular football league in Canada, and the second-most popular major sports league in Canada, after the National Hockey League.[2] Although ice hockey is Canada's most popular sport, the CFL has increased the popularity of Canadian football in Quebec and Western Canada.[2] Canadian football is also played at amateur levels (i.e. youth, high school, CJFL, QJFL, CIS and senior leagues such as the Alberta Football League).

In Southern Ontario, the CFL is recovering from the bankruptcy of the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2003 season. Since that time, both teams have improved their attendance figures dramatically under new ownership.[3]

The 2010s will be a significant decade for the CFL in terms of growth, as teams have renovated, expanded stadiums, or plan to build entirely new stadiums. The Montreal Alouettes accomplished this first, adding 5,000 seats to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in time for the 2010 CFL season.[4] The Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders will also renovate their stadiums and facilities for the 2010 season.[5] During the following season the BC Lions will play under a new, retractable roof in BC Place Stadium after spending one year at Empire Field.[6] Then, the following year, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play in an entirely new stadium at the University of Manitoba, scheduled to open in time for the 2012 CFL season.[7] The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Saskatchewan Roughriders and the new Ottawa franchise will also be looking at new or extensively-renovated stadiums in the following years.[8][9][10]

History Edit

Early history Edit

Cfl logo-60s

CFL logo from 1958–1970

Rugby football began to be played in Canada in the 1860s, and many of the first Canadian football teams played under the auspices of the Canadian Rugby Football Union (CRFU), founded in 1884.[11] The CRFU was reorganized as the Canadian Rugby Union (CRU) in 1892, and served as an umbrella organization that several leagues were part of. The Grey Cup was donated by Governor General Earl Grey in 1909 to the team winning the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada. By that time, the sport as played in Canada had diverged markedly from its rugby origins. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the two senior leagues of the CRU, the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) gradually evolved from amateur to professional leagues, and amateur teams such as those in the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) were no longer competitive in their Cup challenges. The ORFU withdrew from Grey Cup competition in 1954, heralding the start of the modern era of professional Canadian football, in which the Grey Cup has been exclusively contested by professional teams (Since 1965, Canada's top amateur teams, competing in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), have competed for the Vanier Cup).

In 1956, the IRFU and WIFU formed a new umbrella organization, the Canadian Football Council (CFC), and in 1958, the CFC left the CRU, becoming the Canadian Football League (The CRU remained the governing body for amateur play in Canada, eventually adopting the name Football Canada). Initially, there was no inter-divisional play between eastern (IRFU) and western (WIFU) teams except at the Grey Cup final. Limited interlocking play was introduced in 1961 and by 1981 there was a full interlocking schedule of 16 games per season. The separate histories of the IRFU and the WIFU accounted for the fact that two teams had basically the same name: the IRFU's Ottawa Rough Riders were often called the "Eastern Riders", while the WIFU's Saskatchewan Roughriders were called the "Western Riders" or "Green Riders". Other team names had unusual yet traditional origins: with rowing a national craze in the late 19th century, the Argonaut Rowing Club of Toronto formed a rugby team for its members' off-season participation; the club name Toronto Argonauts remains to this day, and after World War II, the two teams in Hamilton—the Tigers and the Flying Wildcats—merged both their organizations and their names, forming the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

CFL logo (1970-2002)

CFL logo from 1970–2002

After the admission of the expansion BC Lions in Vancouver in 1954, the league remained stable with nine franchises: (BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Rough Riders, Montreal Alouettes) from its 1958 inception until 1982, when the Alouettes folded and were replaced the same year by a new franchise named the Concordes.

In 1986 the Concordes were renamed the Alouettes to attract more fan support, but the team folded the next year. The demise of the Alouettes, leaving only three teams in the East Division compared to five teams in the West Division, forced the League to alter its playoff structure by moving the easternmost Western team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, into the East Division, upsetting the long-standing tradition of "East vs. West", as Winnipeg is not considered part of eastern Canada.

United States expansion Edit

The CFL began eyeing an American expansion in 1992. In 1993, the league admitted its first United States-based franchise, the Sacramento Gold Miners. After modest success, the league then expanded further in the U.S. in 1994 with the Las Vegas Posse, Baltimore Stallions, and Shreveport Pirates. The Las Vegas franchise was unsuccessful and turned into a road team by the end of the season. Baltimore, however, advanced all the way to the 82nd Grey Cup and was a financial success as well.

For the 1995 campaign, the American teams were split off into their own South Division. Las Vegas was folded, while two new teams, the Birmingham Barracudas and Memphis Mad Dogs, were added. The Sacramento team moved to become the San Antonio Texans — an ironic occurrence, since a San Antonio team was to have been admitted into the CFL along with the Gold Miners for 1993 but folded before taking a single snap. 1995 saw the Stallions become the first non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup.

The success of the CFL's U.S. expansion was mixed. Baltimore and San Antonio had sustainable operations and were expected to return in 1996. Memphis and Birmingham had reasonable success in 1995 but ran into severe attendance problems during college football season; Shreveport, although it had solid attendance, did not fare well on the field and suffered from poor management. By the end of the 1995 season, Shreveport and Birmingham moved out of their cities and ultimately folded, and Memphis followed suit. When Art Modell, owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, announced he would be moving his team to Baltimore to become the Baltimore Ravens, the Stallions moved to Montreal, becoming the revived Montreal Alouettes. San Antonio decided not to continue operations as the only American team and folded shortly thereafter. By the 1996 season, the Canadian Football League was once again based entirely in Canada.

Recent history Edit

After three seasons that included American teams, the CFL American expansion experiment came to a close, as the CFL returned to an all-Canadian format in 1996 with nine teams; however, the Ottawa Rough Riders, in existence since 1876, folded after the 1996 season, due to poor ownership and fan support, in addition to an aging facility which no longer was suitable for providing a profitable location for professional football. In 2002, the league expanded back to nine teams with the creation of the Ottawa Renegades. After four seasons of financial losses, the Renegades were suspended indefinitely before the 2006 season; their players were absorbed by the remaining teams in a dispersal draft.

In 1997, the NFL provided a $3-million USD interest-free loan to the financially struggling CFL, as CFL teams were losing money after the failed US expansion. In return, the NFL was granted access to CFL players entering a defined two-month window in the option year of their contract. This was later written into the CFL's collective bargaining agreement with its players. The CFL's finances have since stabilized and they eventually repaid the loan. The CFL–NFL agreement expired in 2006. Both leagues have been attempting to reach a new agreement, however the CFL broke off negotiations after Canadian telecommunications firm Rogers Communications paid $78 million to host eight games of the NFL's Buffalo Bills in Toronto over five seasons.[12][13]

The league had struck a committee in 2003 to examine the feasibility of adding a tenth team (which has been a long-standing CFL ambition), the leading candidate cities were Quebec City and Halifax.[14] Exhibition games were held in Quebec City in 2003[15] and in Halifax in 2005. The Halifax event, dubbed Touchdown Atlantic, was scheduled to repeat in 2006 but was cancelled after the suspension of the Ottawa Renegades franchise.[16] Commissioner Tom Wright at that time had indicated that Halifax was the leading candidate for expansion.[17] Moncton is also pursuing a CFL team and has now replaced Halifax as the leading expansion candidate.[18] A newly constructed stadium for the World Junior Track and Field Championships, which opened in 2010, would need the seating and field itself expanded for a CFL team.[19] The mayor of Moncton, premier of New Brunswick, and league commissioner Mark Cohon met in February 2009 to negotiate a deal that would see the city host a regular season game annually over five years, beginning in the 2010 CFL season.[20]

Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, August 2005

Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium is the second-largest venue in the CFL and was the only one with a natural grass playing surface until it was replaced in 2010.

In 2005, the league set an all-time attendance record with a total attendance of more than 2.3 million.[21] With the absence of Ottawa in 2006, the league recorded total regular season attendance of 2,112,696, increasing the average per-game attendance to 29,343. This is the third highest per-game attendance of any North American sports league and the seventh highest per-game attendance of any sports league worldwide. A recent survey conducted at the University of Lethbridge confirmed that the CFL is the second most popular sports league in Canada, with the following of 19% of the total adult Canadian population compared to 30% for the NHL. The NFL had 13% following, with a total of 34% following at least one of the pro football leagues. This could be interpreted to mean that approximately 80% of Canadian football fans follow the CFL and about 55% follow the NFL.[2] The 2007 CFL season marked the sixth straight season of over two million attendance in regular season. Though slightly less than 2006, the 2,100,016 total attendance figure showed greater over-all strength as the average game attendance rose to 29,167, the highest since the 1983 season.[22] Leading the growth were the Roughriders with six consecutive sellouts, the Blue Bombers with five consecutive sellouts, and the Argonauts, whose average attendance of 30,931 was their highest since 1992.[23] The 2007 Grey Cup champion Roughriders were named Canada's team of the year by Canadian Press and credited with rekindling interest in football in the West.[24]

In 2008, the CFL re-awarded the former Renegades franchise to Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt, who will likely launch a new Ottawa franchise in 2013 pending reconstruction of Frank Clair Stadium.

Season structure Edit

Anthony Calvillo game action, 93rd Grey Cup

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo looks down field with the ball during the 2005 Grey Cup game against the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place

Grey Cup circa 2006

The Grey Cup

As of 2008, the CFL season includes:

  • A two-game, two-week exhibition season (or pre-season) in mid-June
  • An 18-game, 19-week regular season running from late June to early November
  • A six-team, three-week single elimination playoff tournament beginning in November and culminating in the Grey Cup championship in late November. Championship teams will play either two or three playoff games, including the Grey Cup game, depending on their standing at the end of the regular season.

Exhibition season Edit

Team training camps open in early June, with pre-season exhibition games beginning in mid-June. The pre-season schedule is two weeks long with each team playing two games against teams from its own division.

Regular season Edit

The regular season is 19 weeks long, with games beginning Canada Day weekend and finishing by early November. The CFL's eight teams are divided into two divisions: the East Division and West Division, with four teams in each division. Each team plays two games against each team in the opposite division, three games against two teams in its own division, and four games against one other team in its own division on a rotating basis. Alternating divisional bye weeks take place in weeks nine and ten, putting the focus on games within the division not resting that week. The most popular featured week in the CFL season is the Labour Day Classic, played over the course of the Labour Day weekend, where the matchups feature the first half of home-and-home series between the traditional geographic rivalries of Toronto–Hamilton (a rivalry which began in 1873[11]), Edmonton–Calgary (see Battle of Alberta), and Winnipeg–Saskatchewan. BC—Montreal, while not considered a "traditional" rivalry, rounds out the week's games.[25] The following week's rematch of these games is a popular event as well, especially in recent years, where the rematch of the Saskatchewan–Winnipeg game has been dubbed the Banjo Bowl. Other features of the regular season schedule are the Hall of Fame Game in Hamilton and the Thanksgiving Day Classic, the doubleheader held on Thanksgiving where the match ups usually do not feature traditional rivalries. Starting in 2010, a neutral site regular season game will be played in Moncton under the name Touchdown Atlantic.

The league awards points based on regular season results (two for a win, one for a tie and none for a loss). As of the 2008 season, in the event two teams in the same division finish the season with the same number of points the tie is broken based on the following criteria (in descending order):

  • Number of wins;
  • Number of wins between the tied teams;
  • Net aggregate of points scored (i.e. total points scored less total points conceded) between the tied teams;
  • Net quotient of points scored (i.e. total points scored divided by total points conceded) between the tied teams;
  • Number of wins in divisional games;
  • Net aggregate of points scored in divisional games;
  • Net quotient of points scored in divisional games;
  • Net aggregate of points scored in all games;
  • Net quotient of points scored in all games;
  • Coin toss

Playoffs Edit

The playoffs begin in November. After the regular season, the top team from each division has an automatic home berth in the division final, and a bye week during the division semifinal. The second-place team from each division hosts the third-place team in the division semifinal, unless a fourth-place team from one division finishes with a better record than a third place team in the other (this provision is known as the crossover rule, and while it implies that it is possible for two teams in the same division to play for the Grey Cup, only two crossover teams have ever won a semifinal: the Edmonton Eskimos on November 8, 2008, vs. the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and the BC Lions on November 15, 2009, vs. the Hamilton Tiger-Cats). The winners of each division's semifinal game then travel to play the first place teams in the division finals. Since 2005, the division semifinals and division finals have been sponsored by Scotiabank.[26] The two division champions then face each other in the Grey Cup game, which, since 2007, has been held on the fourth or fifth Sunday of November.

Grey Cup Edit

The Grey Cup is both the name of the championship of the CFL and the name of the trophy awarded to the victorious team. The Grey Cup is the second oldest trophy in North American professional sport after the Stanley Cup. The Grey Cup game is hosted in one of the league's member cities. In recent years, it has been hosted in a different city every year, selected two or more years in advance. The 2007 Grey Cup, held in Toronto on November 25, 2007, featured a Labour Day Classic match up for the first time ever, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders winning 23–19 over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 2008 the Grey Cup champions were the Calgary Stampeders, after defeating the Montreal Alouettes 22–14 in Montreal. In 2009, the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 28–27. The following year, in a rematch of the previous championship game, the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 21-18 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

As the country's single largest annual sporting event,[1] the Grey Cup has long served as an unofficial Canadian autumn festival generating national media coverage and a large amount of revenue for the host city. Many fans travel from across the country to attend the game and the week of festivities that lead up to it.

Awards Edit

Following the Grey Cup game, the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player and Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian are selected. A number of league individual player awards, such as the Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player, are awarded annually at a special ceremony in the host city during the week before the Grey Cup game; this ceremony is broadcast nationally on TSN. The Annis Stukus Trophy, also known as the Coach of the Year Award, is awarded separately at a banquet held during the off-season each February. While the CFL has not held an all-star game since 1988, an All-Star Team is selected and honoured at the league awards ceremony during Grey Cup week.

Broadcasting Edit

The CFL Championship game, the Grey Cup, held the record for the largest television audience in Canadian history. Television coverage on CBC, CTV and Radio-Canada of the 1983 Grey Cup attracted a viewing audience of 8,118,000 people as Toronto edged B.C. 18–17. At the time, this represented 33% of the Canadian population. This has since been surpassed by both the 2002 and 2010 Men's Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Game.

Canadian broadcasters Edit

Currently, the official television broadcasters of CFL games are cable network TSN (which began televising CFL games in 1985), while cable network and TSN partner RDS broadcasts Montreal Alouettes games in French for the Quebec television market.[27] Games are typically scheduled for Thursday to Saturday evenings during June, July and August, but switch to more Saturday and Sunday afternoon games during September and October.[28] TSN has created a tradition of at least one Friday night game each week, branded as Friday Night Football. CBC and TSN drew record television audiences for CFL broadcasts in 2005.[29] The 2006 season was the first season in which every regular season game was televised, as the league implemented an instant replay challenge system.[30] In 2006, the CFL also began offering pay-per-view webcasts of every game on CFL Broadband.[31] Until the end of the 2007 season CBC and RDS were the exclusive television broadcasters for all playoff games, including the Grey Cup, which regularly draws a Canadian viewing audience in excess of 4 million.[32]

Since 2008, TSN and RDS are the exclusive television and internet broadcasters of all CFL games, including the playoffs and Grey Cup. The five-year agreement, which includes an option for a sixth year, is worth about $16 million annually and marks the first time since 1952 that CBC will not be broadcasting any CFL games. The CFL will no longer be broadcast on Canadian terrestrial television, unless TSN chooses to air the game on its terrestrial partners, CTV or A-Channel. The move to TSN all but assures that all CFL games will be broadcast in high definition.[1] As of 2006, TSN was available in about 8.8 million of Canada's 13 million households.[1] The two play by play announcers are Chris Cuthbert and Rod Black while the colour commentators are Glen Suitor (with Cuthbert) and Duane Forde (with Black).

CFL teams have local broadcast contracts with terrestrial radio stations for regular season and playoff games, while The Fan Radio Network (Rogers Communications) owns the rights to the Grey Cup.[33] In 2006, Sirius Satellite Radio gained exclusive rights for North American CFL satellite radio broadcasts and broadcast 25 CFL games per season, including the Grey Cup, through 2008.[34]

Foreign coverage Edit

In the United States, CFL television broadcasts are available nationally on NFL Network, with the network carrying fourteen games, mostly Friday Night Football.[35] NFL Network took over coverage of games from America One, who had the rights from 2004–2009 and aired a majority of the league's games.[36] Until the 2007 season, regional sports networks like Altitude, NESN, and MASN showed games, but these were discontinued in 2008 (mainly because America One and the CFL were able to reach a deal only days before the season began, not allowing the network time to establish agreements with individual RSNs). The Grey Cup aired on Versus on November 22, 2008, with a replay the next day on America One.

From 2006 through the 2008 season, Friday Night Football was carried exclusively on World Sport HD in the United States; however, due to the January 2009 shutdown of that channel's parent company, Voom HD Networks, America One reclaimed those rights.

In Europe, games were available on NASN; however ESPN decided against renewing the rights in 2007.

The predecessor to the CFL's East Division, the IRFU, had a television contract with NBC in 1954 that provided far more coverage than the NFL's existing contract with DuMont. NBC aired games on Saturday afternoons, competing against college football broadcasts on CBS and ABC. The revenue from the contract allowed the IRFU to directly compete against the NFL for players in the late 1950s, setting up a series of CFL games in the United States beginning in 1958 and a series of interleague exhibitions beginning in 1959. Interest in the CFL in the United States faded dramatically after the debut of the American Football League in 1960.[37]

In 1982, during a players' strike in the NFL, NBC broadcast CFL games in the United States in lieu of the NFL games which were cancelled; the first week of broadcasts featured the NFL on NBC broadcast teams, before a series of blowout games on the network and the resulting low ratings resulted in NBC cutting back and eventually cancelling its CFL coverage. ESPN host Chris Berman became a fan of the game in the early days of ESPN, when the network used to air CFL games, and continues to cover the Canadian league on-air.[38] FNN-SCORE (unrelated to the Canadian "The Score") carried games in the late 1980s. Ironically, during most of the 1990s, when there were American teams in the league, there was no American television contract, which is credited with hastening the American teams' demise.

Previous broadcasting arrangements Edit

From 1962 through 1986, CBC and CTV shared CFL broadcasting rights. They split playoff games and simulcast the Grey Cup. In 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1970, CTV commentators were used for the dual network telecast, while in 1963, 1964, 1966 and 1969, CBC announcers were provided. From 1971 through 1986, one network's crew called the first half while the other called the rest of the game. After the 1986 season, CTV dropped coverage of the CFL and the Grey Cup. From 1987 through 1990, the CFL operated its own syndicated network, CFN. Like CTV, CFN split playoff games with CBC. However, CFN had completely separate coverage of the Grey Cup, utilizing its own production and commentators. From 1991 to 2007, all post-season games had been exclusively on CBC; beginning in 2008, the Grey Cup was carried on TSN, although the cable provider reserves the right to move the game to sister network CTV.

Internet Edit

On the Internet, all radio broadcasts of CFL games are available for free through each affiliate's Web site. As of 2010, ESPN3 is the only place where CFL games are broadcast on Internet television. ESPN3 (and its predecessor, ESPN360) have broadcast games since 2008; the service is only available in the United States (or its military bases) through specially negotiated cable providers and not in Canada. Video broadcasts were free in Canada at one time, but are no longer available; viewers are able to purchase previous games on the TSN website. A service known as "CFL Broadband" offered pay-per-view of CFL games in the United States and elsewhere prior to 2009, but the service ceased operations prior to the 2010 season. During America One's time broadcasting CFL games, some CFL video feeds could be found for free due to the fact that a small number of America One affiliates streamed their video on the Internet, even though the CFL discouraged this.

Players and compensation Edit

The CFL began enforcing a salary cap for the 2007 season of $4.05 million per team. The cap was raised to $4.2 million in the 2008 season and remained at that level for 2009.[39] On June 29, 2010, a new collective bargaining agreement was ratified that raised the salary cap to $4.25 million for the 2010 CFL season and would continue to increase by $50,000 each season until 2013.[40] Financial penalties for teams that breach the cap are set at $1 to $1 for the first $100,000 over, $2 to $1 for $100,000 to $300,000 over, and $3 to $1 for $300,000 and above. Penalties could also include forfeited draft picks.[41] For 2010, the minimum team salary was set at $3.9 million while the minimum player salary was set at $42,000.[40] In 2006, the active roster limit was increased from 40 to 42. The import/non-import ratio, which required teams to keep at least 20 non-import (Canadian-born or Canadian-trained) players on their active roster, was retained at 50%, and thus 21 non-import players are required on the active roster. Teams may have up to 4 players on their reserve roster, and up to 7 on their practice roster.[41] Eligible non-imports (usually from CIS football or American college football) are drafted by teams in the annual Canadian College Draft, which follows an evaluation camp similar to the NFL Combine.[42] A junior player in the locale of a team may be claimed as a territorial exemption and sign with that team before beginning collegiate play (one recent example is of when the Saskatchewan Roughriders claimed Mike Maurer[43]). Teams maintain "negotiation lists" of players they wish to sign as free agents. CFL players are represented by the Canadian Football League Players' Association (CFLPA). Each team elects two players to the CFLPA Board of Player Representatives, which meets once per year. Every two years, it elects an executive Board of Directors.[44]

CFL–NFL comparisons Edit

During the 1950s and 1960s exhibition games were played between CFL and NFL/AFL teams using a mixture of each league's rules. The last such exhibition game was on August 8, 1961, when the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the AFL's Buffalo Bills. This was the only time in which a Canadian team defeated an American team in the series.

In the days when sports teams were financed almost entirely by ticket sales, the CFL and NFL were, financially speaking, on relatively equal footing.[45] In the 1970s, CFL teams signed top U.S. college football players such as Johnny Rodgers, Joe Theismann, and Tom Cousineau. As late as the 1970s and early 1980s, when high-capacity stadiums were built in Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto, people such as Montreal Alouettes owner Nelson Skalbania continued to believe that relative parity could be sustained so long as the CFL could get larger stadiums built in its other cities and sell them out.

However, by the 1980s it became clear that financial parity between the two leagues would not be maintained, not so much because of the disparity in attendance figures, but because of the NFL's increasingly lucrative television contracts that now bring in a majority of the NFL's revenue. The CFL could not hope to negotiate similar contracts with Canadian networks because the U.S. television market is more than ten times the size of Canada's (whereas, at the time, the NFL only had 3 times as many teams as the CFL). A notable exception to this trend occurred in 1991 when the deep-pocketed owners of the Toronto Argonauts (tycoon Bruce McNall, actor John Candy, and hockey star Wayne Gretzky) signed U.S. college star Raghib "Rocket" Ismail to the then-unheard of sum of $18.2 million spread over four years. This proved unsustainable and Ismail left for the NFL after two seasons. Currently, the difference in average salaries between the CFL and NFL is significant, with only a handful of CFL players making more than the NFL minimum.

There is a significant difference in talent between the two leagues due to style of play, CFL teams often recruit skilled players who would be considered undersized by NFL standards. For this reason, there are few players who have played in both leagues, and even fewer who have achieved success in both leagues. Only two people have been elected to both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame: quarterback Warren Moon and coach Bud Grant. There are many cases of CFLers going to the NFL and having success, such as Pro Bowlers Joe Horn, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Doug Flutie. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy and Jeff Garcia are also good examples. On the other hand, there have also been cases of NFL stars coming to the CFL and failing to excel, such as the 2006 signing of Ricky Williams.[46] According to Williams and Jarrett Payton, who has also played in both leagues, since running backs in the CFL get fewer rushing touches they are expected to be more versatile.[47][48]

League commissioners Edit

G. Sydney Halter 1958–1966
Keith Davey 1966
Ted Workman (interim) 1967
Allan McEachern 1967–1968
Jake Gaudaur 1968–1984
Douglas Mitchell 1984–1988
Bill Baker 1989
Roy McMurtry (interim) 1990
J.Donald Crump 1990–1991
Phil Kershaw (interim) 1992
Larry Smith 1992–1996
John Tory 1996–2000
Michael Lysko 2000–2002
David Braley (interim) 2002
Tom Wright 2002–2006
Mark Cohon 2007–present

Teams Edit

Active teams Edit

Expansion (2012 and beyond) Edit

On March 25, 2008, the CFL granted an expansion franchise for the 2010 CFL season to a group of people in Ottawa led by Jeff Hunt, the owner of Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League on the condition of getting a lease agreement of Frank Clair Stadium.[49] The CFL had previously stated that this team would be a resurrection of the "Ottawa Renegades", but their announcement did not make this clear. Stadium issues have delayed the start of play for the Ottawa franchise until 2013 at the earliest.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Moncton, New Brunswick, Quebec City, London, Ontario, and Windsor, Ontario also have been lobbying for Canadian Football League franchises in recent years.[50][51] However, there is not yet a permanently suitable CFL stadium, which was the main problem that kept a previous attempt at a Halifax franchise (the Atlantic Schooners) off the field. Until 2010, the largest fields in Atlantic Canada were Huskies Stadium in Halifax and Canada Games Stadium in Saint John, both of which only seat 11,000, even with temporary seating. As of 2010, the new largest stadium in the Atlantic region is the 10,000 seat Stade Moncton Stadium which is expandable to 20,000 seats, making a CFL franchise possible.[52] A pre-season game, dubbed Touchdown Atlantic, was held in Halifax in the 2005 CFL season and a regular season game was played in Moncton, September 26, 2010.[53] All 20,000 seats for the Moncton game sold out in 32 hours.[54]

While Quebec City has not gotten as much attention as have Moncton and Halifax, there has been expressed interest to add a team there. In 2003, an exhibition game was held at PEPS Le Stade Extérieur between the Montreal Alouettes and Ottawa Renegades where Montreal won 54–23.[15] In May 2009, Christina Saint Marche, a British businesswoman, announced her interest in operating a team in Quebec City—stating that there would be a natural rivalry with the Montreal Alouettes.[55] However, Commissioner Mark Cohon noted that he has not been approached by Saint Marche, and that she would still need to secure a suitable stadium of a capacity of at least 25,000. It has been suggested that this would be a good location based on the support that the Laval Rouge et Or football team receives.[citation needed]

Windsor, as part of the Detroit-Windsor metropolitan area, has been suggested by the potential owner Oronde Gadsden as a prospective market for a team he is pursuing (though Gadsden indicated the team, if he were to own it, would possibly be based in the U.S. suburbs of Detroit, Michigan) at the Pontiac Silverdome indoor stadium.[56]

Western New York has also been mentioned as a potential expansion site; Gadsden mentioned Rochester, New York, as another potential market for his team,[56] while there have been suggestions, both serious and non-serious, that the teams from Southern Ontario play some games in Buffalo, New York, as a response to the Buffalo Bills' playing some home football games in Toronto.[57] Buffalo's UB Stadium (29,000) and Coca-Cola Field (19,500, with potential for expansion) are at or near CFL-capacity; though Ralph Wilson Stadium and its over 70,000 seats has enough capacity, its playing surface is far too small to accommodate a CFL-sized field. Since the demolition of Holleder Memorial Stadium in 1985, Rochester, New York, lacks a stadium with a sufficient seating capacity. Both Frontier Field and Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester seat fewer than 14,000. The only other stadium in the region that could possibly support a CFL team would be the 50,000-seat Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Defunct and inactive teams Edit


Locations of defunct CFL teams

Team City Stadium Years in CFL
Baltimore Stallions
Transformed into the revived Montreal Alouettes in 1996
Baltimore, Maryland Memorial Stadium 19941995
Birmingham Barracudas Birmingham, Alabama Legion Field 1995
Las Vegas Posse Las Vegas, Nevada Sam Boyd Stadium 1994
Memphis Mad Dogs Memphis, Tennessee Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 1995
Ottawa Renegades Ottawa, Ontario Frank Clair Stadium 20022005
Ottawa Rough Riders Ottawa, Ontario Frank Clair Stadium 18761996
Sacramento Gold Miners Sacramento, California Hornet Stadium 19931994
San Antonio Texans (1995) San Antonio, Texas Alamodome 1995[9]
Shreveport Pirates Shreveport, Louisiana Independence Stadium 19941995.
  1. ^ The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were created in 1950 as a merger of the Hamilton Tigers (founded 1869 as the Hamilton Foot Ball Club,[11] and merged with the Hamilton Alerts in 1914) and the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.
  2. ^ The Alouettes' main home field is Molson Stadium. In recent years, they also play their final regular season home game and any home playoff games at Olympic Stadium.
  3. ^ The CFL considers the current Montreal Alouettes franchise (founded in 1994 as the Baltimore Stallions, moved to Montreal and renamed the Montreal Alouettes in 1996) to be a continuation of the original Montreal Alouettes (founded 1946, played in the CFL 19581981) and Montreal Concordes (founded 1982, renamed the Montreal Alouettes in 1986, folded just before the 1987 season).[58]
  4. ^ Created by a merger of the Winnipegs (whose roots go back to 1879) and the St. John's team, and become known as the "Winnipeg Pegs" before changing to the current name, Blue Bombers, in 1936.
  5. ^ Not related to the Vancouver Grizzlies, who played one season in 1941.
  6. ^ Roots go back to the Calgary Rugby Foot-ball Club, which formed in 1909.[59]
  7. ^ While football in Edmonton was first played in 1890,[60] the Edmonton Eskimos recognize their first season in 1949.[61] This was further evidenced by the "60 seasons" decals worn on their helmets during the 2008 season.
  8. ^ Became Saskatchewan Roughriders officially in 1950, after the team became the only pro football team left in the province in 1948.
  9. ^ Another team named the San Antonio Texans was formed in 1993, but folded before playing a game. The Texans team listed here were the Sacramento Gold Miners, who moved to Texas in 1995.
  10. ^ Percival Molson Memorial Stadium Phase II construction was completed in 2010, adding an additional 5,000 seats, in the northwest corner and east grandstand.
  11. ^ The Miami Manatees were a proposed team that was abandoned before the 1996 season, after an exhibition game between Birmingham and Baltimore in Miami was poorly attended.

Cheerleading Edit

Each football team is also teamed up with a cheerleading squad.

See also Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 William Houston (2006-12-20). "Grey Cup moves to TSN in new deal". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Canadian Press (2006-06-08). "Survey: Canadian interest in pro football is on the rise". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2006-06-08.
  3. CFL Stadium Attendance
  4. Expansion project approved
  5. Eskimos digging their new digs
  6. Demise of famous roof begins BC Place renewal
  7. Bombers accelerate stadium plan
  8. Pan Ams will leave lasting legacy
  9. Update on plans for downtown Regina domed stadium coming: Enterprise Minister Ken Cheveldayoff
  10. New Lansdowne designs unveiled
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Canadian Football Timelines (1860–present)". Football Canada. Archived from the original on 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
  12. "CFL ends working agreement with NFL". 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  13. "Bills’ plan exposes NFL-CFL relationship". 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  14. "CFL considering Quebec or Halifax expansion". CBC Sports Online. 2003-11-14. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Calvillo, Alouettes hammer Renegades". CBC Sports Online. 2003-06-09. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  16. Canadian Press (2006-04-09). "CFL suspends operations of Renegades". Archived from the original on 2007-03-18. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  17. Adam Richardson (2006-01-27). "CFL returning to Halifax". Halifax Daily News. Archived from the original on 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  18. "Moncton is CFL's best bet for a 10th team".
  19. Crase, Dave. New stadium puts hopes for a CFL franchise on high. CanWestNews Service. 23 April 2008.
  20. Huras, Adam (2009-02-10). "Officials keen on CFL games in Moncton". Telegraph-Journal. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  21. "CFL Sees Numbers Rise At The Gates". Sports Business Daily. 2005-11-17. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  22. "Sold-out stadiums and strong attendance across the board lead to highest average since 1983". 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  23. "CFL scores high in attendance". CBC. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  24. "Roughriders named Canadian Press team of the year". CBC. 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
  25. "CFL Game Schedule Announced". 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
  26. "Partnership of champions". 2005-08-08. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  27. "Broadcast". Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  28. "Schedule". Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  29. "CFL announces updated schedule". 2006-04-17. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  30. "CFL to introduce instant replay for 2006". 2006-06-13. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  31. "CFL debuts live webcast for entire schedule". 2006-06-22. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  32. William Houston (2006-11-20). "Minor rise in Grey Cup ratings good for CBC". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  33. CFL broadcasters page. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  34. "CFL Gets Sirius". 2006-04-24. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  35. "CFL moves to a new home in the US". 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
  36. "CFL available in all U.S. markets". 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  38. Naylor, David (22 November 2008). "Berman still shows loyalty to CFL". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  39. Canadian Press (2009-01-14). "CFL salary cap won't change". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
  40. 40.0 40.1 "New CFL-CFLPA CBA at a glance". Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  41. 41.0 41.1 "Salary Management System". Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  42. "TransGlobe Evaluation Camp". Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  43. "Mike Maurer #19". Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  44. "Organization of the CFLPA". Archived from the original on 2006-11-02. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  45. Brunt, Stephen (26 November 2010). "Americans excel at Canadian football". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  46. Jim Bender (2006-08-22). "NFL experience doesn't translate". Winnipeg Sun. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
  47. Living in the moment, Williams enjoying his time in Canada USA Today 6 November 2006. "Up here... I can block, play tight end, running back, receiver — even play the line. The NFL is so structured — 'You do this.'"
  48. NFL vs. CFL with former University of Miami Tailback Jarrett Payton and Pete McMurray at YouTube Uploaded 22 July 2008. "You have to be able to block, catch, and run the ball [in the CFL]"</span> </li>
  49. "CFL grants conditional team to Ottawa". 2008-03-18. </li>
  50. Walling: The CFL will be coming east </li>
  51. Windsor 'ready and willing' for CFL expansion team </li>
  52. "Cohon has Moncton on his mind". National Post. Retrieved 2008-12-08.[<i>dead link</i>] </li>
  53. "CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE | CFL's Touchdown Atlantic". 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-07-01. </li>
  54. "CFL game in Moncton a sellout". 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2010-10-05. </li>
  55. . Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2009-07-09.[<i>dead link</i>] </li>
  56. 56.0 56.1 Naylor, David."Ex-NFLer wants CFL to expand to U.S.". Globe and Mail. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2009-02-05. </li>
  57. Examples include this April Fool's Day joke played by the Tiger-Cats: TICATS TO HOLD TWO GAMES SOUTH OF THE BORDER. Hamilton Tiger-Cats press release. 1 April 2008. </li>
  58. "History of the Montreal Alouettes". Retrieved 2006-12-04. </li>
  59. </li>
  60. 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.282 </li>
  61. History </li></ol>

External linksEdit

Historical Stats and Information
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