NFL Recruiting North of the Border

Recently, the NFL has turned to another source when it comes to recruiting players: the Canadian Football League.

The Canadian Football League (CFL), which has been dubbed by some NFL fans as "the league of the leftovers" or "the place where NFL rejects go," has slowly begun to garner respect.

Through a number of recent recruits from the CFL that have had success in the NFL, the CFL has shown that it does boast a lot of talented players.

One of the latest examples of a player from the Canadian Football League heading south of the border is defensive end Cameron Wake. The Miami Dolphins outbid a couple of other NFL squads and signed Wake to a four-year contract worth close to $5 million dollars with $1 million guaranteed. It sounds like the Dolphins hope to convert the defensive end into an outside linebacker who would start opposite of Joey Porter.

What fans of the NFL might not know is just how successful Cameron Wake was in the CFL. The talented lineman, who can run the 40-yard dash in around 4.55 seconds with a 46-inch vertical leap, dominated opposing offenses in the CFL.

The former Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year recipient in the CFL earned 16 sacks in his rookie season and followed it up with an unbelievable 23 sacks the next season.

Such a successful player coming out of the CFL should not be that surprising anymore, especially to the NFL, who have witnessed some great players in the past and present.

Just look at some of the former CFL players who have and are playing in the NFL right now and have had success in the past:

Stefan Logan: Signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Since he signed on with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Logan has already been impressive. The running back, who was brought in to be primarily a kick and punt returner, has impressed the coaches and fellow veterans enough that they have considered him as a third down running back.

Logan's early success doesn't come as a surprise to fans of the CFL. Not even playing a full season last year, Logan rushed for nearly 900 yards and caught 3 passes for a touchdown with the British Columbia Lions. Logan's fast acceleration and amazing open field ability made him tough to stop.

But just how valuable a player was Logan?

The Lions traded away the previous season's rushing leader, Joe Smith, because they had so much faith in Logan.

Kenton Keith: Signed with the Indianapolis Colts

Colts fans will likely remember Keith for the one season when he was somewhat of a star for the Colts. Keith rushed for 533 yards with the Colts in 2007 with 4 touchdowns and a 4.4 yards per carry average.

What fans of the NFL might not realize is that Keith was a big-time player in the Canadian Football League. After spending a number of seasons on the practice roster of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Keith emerged as a perennial 1,000-yard threat. Keith dominated teams with his breakaway speed and single-handedly help the Riders win a few playoff games.

What helped Keith's success in the NFL was the fact that he bulked up, which added to his speed made him an asset for the Colts.

It is interesting to see a player who spent time on a CFL practice roster have success in the NFL.

Jeff Garcia: Signed originally by the San Francisco 49ers

Garcia has had success ever since coming from the CFL to the NFL.

Playing with Doug Flutie in Calgary, Garcia led the Stampeders to a Grey Cup victory and has been one of the most successful Stampeders in history. Garcia was also a multiple award winner in the Canadian Football League.

Garcia signed on with the 49ers and fought for a job behind Steve Young. After young retired, Garcia took over and found success. With help from his favorite target (but not favorite person) Terrell Owens, Garcia helped the 49ers make consecutive playoff appearances. His highlight came in the 2002-2003 playoff game against the Giants, where he was part of the second largest comeback in NFL playoff history.

Since playing for the 49ers, Garcia has bounced around to a number of teams, most recently the Oakland Raiders. But, with a 173 touchdown passes and a career rating of 87.5, it is safe to say this former CFL stay has had an amazing career in both leagues.

Doug Flutie: Signed originally by the Buffalo Bills

Famous for his Hail Mary throw, Flutie has been another example of a player coming from the CFL to the NFL to have success.

Playing in the CFL, Flutie had a record of 99-27, and threw for a record 6,619 yards one season. Three Grey Cup victories, six Most Outstanding Player awards, and a number of personal accolades later and Flutie has been considered to be one of the best quarterbacks to play in the CFL.

Flutie signed on with the Buffalo Bills, where he made the Pro Bowl once and helped the Bills make the playoffs twice. Flutie spent time with the San Diego Chargers and the New England Patriots, where he made his famous drop kick.

Warren Moon: Signed originally by the Houston Oilers

Moon has been regarded as the best player to play in both the NFL and CFL.

With the Edmonton Eskimos, Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups to help form the Eskimos dynasty.

Once heading to the NFL, Moon continued his success. Moon was a nine-time Pro Bowler in the NFL, the fourth all-time leader in passing yards. In fact, if you combine his CFL and NFL stats together, Moon would shatter a lot of NFL records.

Moon will always be remembered by fans of the CFL and NFL.

So, regardless of your feelings towards the CFL, it is undeniable that the CFL has produced many talented players. From players of the past Like Warren Moon and Doug Flutie, or potential stars like Cameron Wake, is just goes to show the CFL is full of talent.

While the CFL may never be as big as the NFL or have the same level of talent, the CFL has become a valuable outlet of recruiting for NFL teams.

Comments and Conversation

July 21, 2009

Brian Lambier:

Great to see this piece on recruiting talent from the CFL to have success in the NFL. A few more names to add to the list that started their careers in Canada; Joe Kapp, Joe Theisman,Erik Kramer, Mike Nelms, Mach Herron, Vick Washington, Vernon Perry, Rocket Ismial, Tom Cousineau,Mervin Fernandez,Kerry Joseph,Harold Hassalbach,Mike Sellers,Cookie Gilchrist,Ed George, Marc Boerectter, Two greta head coaches that achieved a gret deal of success in both leagues that started their careers as head coaches in Canada were Bud Grant(winnipeg) and Marv Levy(Montreal). As for Doug Flutie, 6 time CFL MVP. To watch him in his prime excel in a game of big men in the CFL was truly amazing. Jeff Garcia was Fluties back up in Calgary and learned how to be a great pro which has translated into success in the NFL.. The fact is that the two leagues are both very different in their rules , style of play, field dimensions and the type of athlete they need to have to be produce exciting football. The Athletes in the CFL are in general smaller than their NFL counterparts but still world class athletes that can play with the best. Ask Ricky Williams, Andre Rison and Vince Ferragamo how difficult it is to have success in the cfl. We are very proud of our league the CFL.Thanks for your piece on the CFL

August 2, 2009

Jonathan Hamelin:

No problem Biran, the CFL is a great league. Glad you enjoyed the article.

December 23, 2011

lois Faris:

are ou the one offering a retirement program at the library in the spring of 2012?

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