Why The CFL Is A Pleasant Diversion With No NFL Until September

The more I watch the CFL, the more I enjoy the game up North…

I will not lie, I enjoy the CFL. I enjoy the CFL game with two 50-yard lines. It’s just fun! It does not matter if it’s in Montreal, Edmonton or Saskatchewan. I’d never see that phenomenon in the NFL or NCAA football. Because there are two visible 50-yard lines, of course the field has to be more than 100 yards in length — in fact, it’s 110 yards in length, again 10 yards longer than the NFL.

Montreal 2014 201The end zones are 20 yards long, 10 yards longer than the NFL. From my couch perspective, the game established in Canada appears to be a more wide-open game by increasing the length and width of the field and widening the end zones.

The game was founded in 1958 and it’s interesting to ponder if the three down rule was always in existence. Indeed, it really opens up the game and most CFL teams rely more on passing and draw plays to pick up 10 yards in essentially two downs. I’ve not yet gotten accustomed seeing the Argonauts or Stampeders punt the football on 3rd down but typically they don’t have many other options unless they are close to the opponent’s goal line and perhaps attempt a field goal or take a chance on their 3rd down.

Like the NFL, the referees do have flags and they do use them. I have not done a sampling with the amount of calls in a CFL game versus an NFL, it appears there may be slightly fewer in the CFL. However, the red flags used in Canada take some getting used to. I don’t know what I prefer, red or yellow although I must say, red indicates that whatever the player was flagged for, the red appears to be more dramatic. The yellow color sometimes in my mind is cautionary although they’re penalized just the same.

I watched a CFL game the other night between the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders and during a coach’s challenge, the network did not go to commercial. I was flabbergasted, as that would never happen today in the NFL. Broadcasters for the NFL game will quickly go to commercial before viewers know the result of the challenge. The efficiency that the referees made quickly to adjudicate the challenge kept the game moving and my interest remained in tack.

Montreal 2014 224Beside the extra point, there are several ways a team can earn 1 point on a play. When a kick (which includes a field goal, punt or kick off) is kicked in the end zone and the receiving team is unsuccessful in bringing the ball into the field of play, one point or rouge is awarded to the kicking team. Of course, bringing the ball into the field of play after a made field goal would not apply.

The NFL has tried to reduce the number of serious injuries on the field so the kickoff was moved from the 30 to the 35 yard line which means most kickoffs are not returned as often the ball sails out of the end zone or the ball is kicked deep into the end zone and the receiver does a quick cost-benefit equation and often will error on the side of caution. However, having the one point rule in the NFL would entice certain teams to gamble trying to earn that extra point by escaping the end zone. Some opponents would say it would add unnecessary injuries to the NFL game but my counter point would be why even have the kickoff if you want to keep the number of injuries during that type of play at a minimum — start on the 25 yard line. Either way, the current kickoff approach by the NFL needs more evaluation.

The other night while catching parts of a CFL game, the announcer mentioned that offensive players could move at any time in any direction provided they remain behind the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. In fact, you’ll often see wide receivers 5-10 yards behind the line of scrimmage sprint forward a second before the ball is snapped. It’s certainly more fun and a different dimension than the professional sport down under.

Montreal 2014 207In the NFL, you often hear about the illegal procedure call. This penalty encompasses several other penalties including the illegal shift, illegal motion, and illegal formation. Most of these penalties are eliminated in the CFL by allowing the offensive player to move forward or side by side before the ball is snapped. Implementing the CFL rule about having the offensive players move in either direction would add more excitement to the NFL game and reduce the amount of penalties. Any takers?

As I was researching this article, I stumble upon a challenging trivia question about the CFL. Which CFL franchise has the most titles? The Edmonton Eskimos, 11. If you think it’s quite an accomplishment for the Green Bay Packers to have the most NFL titles (13) in their franchise history, realize they’ve been a franchise since around 1919. The Eskimos have two less titles in over 35 fewer years of existence. Perhaps Edmonton should also be considered Titletown.

According to Wikipedia, the leagues has a 20-week regular season. However, each team has two byes though so they play 18 regular season games from June to early November. Following the regular season, six teams will complete in the league’s playoff during a three-week period. The Grey Cup championship is the country’s largest annual sports and TV event.

Montreal 2014 199After being exposed to the game up north, I will no longer complain about not enjoying pro football in the summer. Their game is fun, a little more open and interesting than the NFL or as some would say, No Fun League. Perhaps this league would capture more viewers if it did not occur in the summer months where less TV viewing occurs. One might argue viewers watch more NFL than the CFL, not because it’s better or more entertaining, but with bad weather beginning in early November for a large part of the country, viewers spend more time inside watching the NFL. On the other hand, perhaps the NFL is much more popular because of gambling, not necessarily because the brand of football is that much more entertaining than the game up north.


  1. Glad you have enjoyed Canada’s version of football. Note that the creation of the CFL in 1954 merely started the “modern era” of Canadian style football. The game was played by various amateur and professional leagues in the country for the best part of the preceding 75 years. During WWII a Royal Canadian Navy team, and a Royal Canadian Air Force team, both won a national championship (the Grey Cup).
    Yes the Canadian game has always had 3 downs. In fact, so did the U.S. game until the early 20th century.
    I enjoyed your viewpoint!

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