When news broke last week regarding the XFL and the CFL talking about potential collaborations, minds started to wonder for many XFL fans. Questions surrounded what it could mean for the future of the league and the effects of the potential 2022 season. Some wondered what the CFL could bring to the table to help the XFL.
Most American football fans are aware of the CFL, but have probably never seen a game since it’s hard to find in the United States. Fans may not be aware that the league has been around at some compacity for over 100 years. Teams have come and go through the CFL, but fans may not know enough about the league.
Let’s take a glimpse into the past and learn more about its history as well as the teams that make up the league our neighbors up north are passionate about.
History Behind the CFL
From the 1860’s until 1909, Canada was playing their football more to the rugby style and played under the name Canadian Football Union. It wasn’t until 1909 where the league started to take shape with Governor General the Earl Grey donated the Grey Cup trophy to the team that won the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada.
Canadian rugby-football teams spent the next half-decade playing to win the Grey Cup until 1956 where everything changed. The Interprovincial Rugby Football Union and Western Interprovincial Football Union merged together to become the Canadian Football Council and two years later, the Canadian Football League was born from the CFC.
The CFL currently has nine teams but has seen 11 of their teams fold since the league started. At one time, the CFL made a move to expand to the United States between 1993 and 1995. U.S. teams were located in Baltimore, Birmingham, Las Vegas, Memphis, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Shreveport.
The Baltimore Stallions are the only non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup when they won it back in 1995. After poor performances on the field and a lack of fan interest, the CFL moved away from the U.S. and has never returned since.
Notable Former CFL Head Coaches and Players
Some notable players who have played in the league includes big name quarterbacks. Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Doug Flutie, and Jeff Garcia headline the quarterbacks. Other players that played in the CFL and NFL are Joe Horn, Andre Rison, Mike Vanderjagt, and Cameron Wake.
Former XFL coaches June Jones and Bart Andrus were some of the notable former coaches of the CFL. Pro Football Hall of Fame and former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant won four Grey Cups coaching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Other notable former CFL coaches include former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman and former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
Current CFL Teams
There are currently nine CFL teams that are divided between two divisions. The East Division has four teams while the West Division has five teams. Each team has their own owner running the team.
The East Division is made up of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Redblacks, and the Toronto Argonauts. Representing the West Division is the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Football Team, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Toronto Argonauts are the oldest team in the league as they formed back in 1873 while the Ottawa Redblacks are the newest team after becoming a franchise in 2014. The most recent Grey Cup champion was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12.
The Redblacks are hoping for a strong 2021 season after finishing the 2019 season with the worst record in the league at 3-15. Ottawa is seeking their second Grey Cup in team history as they will be led by first year head coach Paul LaPolice. Matt Nichols and Dominique Davis are the top two quarterbacks on the roster with Nichols going to be the favorite to start game one.
Toronto also finds themselves looking for major improvement from 2019 after finishing 4-14. The Argonauts also have a new head coach leading them with Ryan Dinwiddie earning his first head coaching job. Their quarterback situation will come down to Nick Arbuckle and former Clemson/Missouri standout Kelly Bryant.
The Lions only won 5 games in 2019 and can be added to the list of teams with new head coaches. This time, a familiar name in CFL coaches them with long time Ottawa Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell taking over the squad.
Future Canadian Football Hall of Fame quarterback Mike Reilly enters his 11th season in the league and his second as the BC quarterback after returning to the team he started his career with.
Edmonton Football Team
After finishing the 2019 season with an 8-10 record, Edmonton is looking for a new name for the team after retiring their previous name “Eskimos”. Former Ottawa Redblacks offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo is about to serve his first season at head coach for Edmonton.
Trevor Harris is expected to be the starting quarterback for the team. XFL fans will look out for former Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius to compete for the job or play the role of backup.
The Alouettes are coming off a 10-8 record that saw them make the playoffs. Khari Jones enters his second season as the head coach looking to build off his momentum from 2019.
Versatile quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is back for his second full season as the starting quarterback after throwing for 24 touchdowns and running for an additional 12 touchdowns in 2019.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Despite finishing third in the Western Division, Winnipeg is coming off a convincing Grey Cup win in 2019. Mike O’Shea returns for his seventh season at head coach after leading the Blue Bombers to the playoffs four seasons in a row.
Playoff hero Zach Collaros returns for his second season as Winnipeg’s quarterback after going 4-0 as the starting quarterback at the end of the 2019 season including the Grey Cup win.
The Stampeders have been the standard of being a winning team in the CFL. Calgary has made the playoffs every season since 2005 winning three Grey Cups in six appearances. Dave Dickinson has had one of the most successful runs at head coach in league history compiling a 53-17-2 record in four seasons.
Dickinson made the Grey Cup his first three seasons at head coaching winning one in 2018. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell returns for his ninth season at quarterback putting together a career that should lead to a Canadian Football Hall of Fame appearance.
West Division champions Saskatchewan returns with high expectations after finishing 2019 at 13-5 and being one of the top offenses in the league. Dave Dickerson’s brother Craig enters his second season as the Roughriders’ head coach. 2019 CFL leading passer Cody Fajardo returns at quarterback after signing a contract extension back in January.
The top regular-season team Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a ton of momentum going into 2021 after finishing 15-3 and losing in the Grey Cup. Head coach Orlando Steinauer is back for his second season after taking the job over from former Houston Roughnecks head coach June Jones.
The team has a quarterback controversy with Dane Evans and Jeremiah Masoli battling for the job with both might be playing this season.
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