|Most recent season or competition:
2013 CFL season
|Founded||January 17, 1958
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Motto||This Is Our League
Notre ligue. Notre football.
|No. of teams||8, in two four-team divisions|
|Most recent champion(s)||Toronto Argonauts (6th title)|
|Most titles||Edmonton Eskimos (10 titles)|
NBC Sports Network
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 current teams, which are located in eight separate 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, when the team with the better record makes the playoffs and "crosses over" to the other division's playoff) 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.
The CFL was officially founded on January 19, 1958, making it the second oldest gridiron football league in North America still in operation, although all its teams long predate the modern formation of the league. 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. Although ice hockey is Canada's most popular sport, the CFL has increased the popularity of Canadian football in Quebec and Western Canada. 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).
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. The Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders also renovated their respective stadiums and facilities for the 2010 season. In 2011, the BC Lions played under a new, retractable roof in BC Place after spending one and a half seasons at Empire Field. Then the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play in an entirely new stadium at the University of Manitoba, scheduled to open in time for the 2013 season. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Saskatchewan Roughriders and the new Ottawa franchise are also looking at new or extensively-renovated stadiums in the following years. There are also hopes of expanding the league to Atlantic Canada (ideally basing a team in either the more populated Halifax, or the more centralized Moncton), as 2010 and 2011 had regular season games hosted in Moncton.
According to sports historian Douglas Brei, the Canadian Football League holds the distinction of being the only professional sports league in North America, major or minor league, in which each existing franchise has won at least one league title while in their current location.
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. 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, and had become very similar to the American game. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the two senior leagues of the CRU, the eastern Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU or Big Four) 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 after the 1954 season, 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, the two unions remained autonomous, and there was no intersectional play between eastern (IRFU) and western (WIFU) teams except at the Grey Cup final. This situation was roughly analogous to how the American baseball leagues operated for years. The IRFU was renamed the Eastern Football Conference in 1960, while the WIFU was renamed the Western Football Conference in 1961. Also in 1961, limited interlocking play was introduced. It was not until 1981 that the two conferences agreed to a full merger, with 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 into the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The league remained stable with nine franchises—the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Rough Riders and Montreal Alouettes—from its 1958 inception until 1981. After the 1981 season, 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, Winnipeg, into the East Division. This upset the long-standing tradition of "East vs. West", as Winnipeg is not considered part of eastern Canada.
United States expansion
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. Baltimore advanced all the way to the 82nd Grey Cup—the first non-Canadian team to do so—and was a financial success as well. At the other end of the spectrum, the Posse were a complete failure on and off the field and folded after the season.
For the 1995 campaign, the American teams were split off into their own South Division. Two new teams, the Birmingham Barracudas and Memphis Mad Dogs, were added. The Gold Miners moved to become the San Antonio Texans and, in doing so, became the first franchise to relocate to another market in league history. (Another 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.) In 1995 the Stallions became the first (and to date, only) 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 the 1996 season. Memphis and Birmingham had reasonable success in 1995 but ran into severe attendance problems during college football season. The CFL has long played on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays—the same days on which college football games are played. 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 had announced plans to move elsewhere, but the CFL opted instead to shutter them along with Memphis. 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 realized they could not hope to go head-to-head with an NFL team. After sounding out other locations in the United States, they moved to Montreal, becoming the revived Montreal Alouettes. Facing the prospect of being 1,500 miles from their nearest opponent, the Texans opted not to continue as the sole American team in the league, ending the CFL's American experiment.
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 2008, the CFL re-awarded the former Renegades franchise to Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt, who was supposed to launch a new Ottawa franchise in 2010; issues with Frank Clair Stadium and numerous legal delays in the reconstruction of the stadium have left the team on hold until at least 2014.
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, but 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.
The league had set up 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. Exhibition games were held in Quebec City in 2003 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. Commissioner Tom Wright at that time had indicated that Halifax was the leading candidate for expansion. Moncton is also pursuing a CFL team and has now replaced Halifax as the leading expansion candidate. 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. 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.
In 2005, the league set an all-time attendance record with a total attendance of more than 2.3 million. With the absence of Ottawa from 2006 onwards, league attendance has hovered around the 2 million mark. It stood at 2,029,875 in 2012 for a single game average of 28,193. The 2007 season was a recent high point with average game attendance of 29,167, the best since 1983.  The 2012 season was another significant milestone for the league, marking the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup award. With Toronto defeating Calgary, the league was rewarded with the highest ever television ratings for a championship game in English Canada.
The CFL has 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 24% 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.
Currently, 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. The division leader at the end of the regular season receives a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Team training camps open 28 days prior to the first regular season game of the season, a camp solely devoted to first year players is allowed the 3 days before the main camp opens. The pre-season exhibition schedule is two weeks long with each team playing two games against teams from its own division.
The regular season is 19 weeks long, with games beginning Canada Day weekend and finishing by early November. The CFL's eight current 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), Edmonton–Calgary (see Battle of Alberta), and Winnipeg–Saskatchewan. BC—Montreal, while not considered a "traditional" rivalry, rounds out the week's games. 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 2011 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
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. 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.
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. In 2011 the B.C. Lions defeated the Blue Bombers 34–23; it was the first time a team won the cup on home field since the 1994 B.C. Lions. In 2012, the game was held in Toronto at the Rogers Centre, and for the second year in row the cup was won on a team's home field, Toronto beating Calgary 35–22.
As the country's single largest annual sporting event, 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.
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.
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, ending a 31-year championship drought for the Argonauts. 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.
Currently, the official television broadcasters of CFL games are cable network TSN (which began televising CFL games in 1985), while TSN's French-language network RDS broadcasts Montreal Alouettes games for the Quebec television market. 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. 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. The 2006 season was the first season in which every regular-season game was televised, as the league implemented an instant replay challenge system. In 2006, the CFL also began offering pay-per-view webcasts of every game on CFL Broadband. 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.
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 CTV Two (formerly A-Channel); as of 2011, TSN has not transferred any CFL games to broadcast TV. The move to TSN all but assures that all CFL games will be broadcast in high definition. As of 2006[update], TSN was available in about 8.8 million of Canada's 13 million households. 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). Instead of merely exercising the option on the contract, TSN opted to renew the contract with the CFL (and thus extend the terrestrial blackout) through 2018 in an agreement announced in March 2013.
The CFL, as of immediately prior to the 2012 season, had not secured a television partner in the United States. By default, the rights rested with the ESPN Networks, through their part-ownership of TSN, but they did not schedule the league for air on any of its traditional television networks. In late July 2012, NBC Sports Network acquired rights to the CFL for the remainder of the 2012 season. The NBCSN deal included nine regular season games starting August 27 (including both Labour Day Classic games) and all the playoffs.
In June 2012, UK broadcaster ESPN America began to show CFL matches. They stated that their intention was to show the entire season, through to the Grey Cup. Some weekly matches were shown live and others recorded.
Previous broadcasting arrangements
CBC Television, which held a monopoly on Canadian television until 1961, held Canadian professional football broadcast rights beginning the year of its debut, 1952. CTV was born in 1961 part because Toronto businessman Spence Caldwell had won the television rights to the Eastern Conference, and needed a network to air the games. 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.
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.
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. FNN-SCORE (unrelated to the Canadian The Score) carried games in the late 1980s. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, SportsChannel America carried games, using CBC Television, CFN and TSN feeds. Beginning in 1994, with now four US-based teams in the league, ESPN reached a deal with the league to produce and air two games per week and all post-season games on its fledgling ESPN2. They also put some games on the main network to fill broadcast time vacated by the 1994 Major League Baseball strike. The 1994 and 1995 Grey Cups were shown live on ESPN2 and then re-aired on ESPN the following day, leading into the network's Monday Night Countdown show. ESPN's on-air talent included a mix of the network's American football broadcasters and established CFL broadcasters from Canada. Most of the US-based teams also had deals with local carriers to show games that were not covered in the national package. Though there were no US teams in the league after 1995, ESPN2 continued showing games until 1997.
America One held CFL broadcast rights in the United States from 2004 to 2009 and aired a majority of the league's games. Until the 2007 season, America One syndicated CFL games to regional sports networks like Altitude, NESN, and MASN; 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.
NFL Network took over the league broadcast contract in 2010. For the 2010 season, the network carried 14 games, no more than one each week. For 2011, the network increased its output to two games each week.
NBC Sports Network began to air 2012 CFL games on August 27. NBC Sports, like the NFL Network, used the TSN Network feed to air the CFL games. Unlike the NFL Network, NBC Sports decided to air the CFL on TSN pre-game and half-time shows. The NBC Sports Network aired various games for the remainder of the 2012 season, including all CFL play-off games and the 100th Grey Cup Game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on November 25.
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.
In Canada, Bell Mobility provides streaming of CFL games to its mobile devices.
CFL teams have local broadcast contracts with terrestrial radio stations for regular season and playoff games, while Bell Media's sports networks (TSN Radio and The Team) own the rights to the Grey Cup. 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.
Players and compensation
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. 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. 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. For 2010, the minimum team salary was set at $3.9 million while the minimum player salary was set at $42,000. 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 ("A player who was physically resident in Canada for an aggregate of 7 years prior to turning 15 or if he’s a Canadian Citizen, was physically resident in Canada for an aggregate period of 5 years prior to turning 18") players on their active roster, was retained at 50%, and thus 21 non-import players are allowed on the active roster. Teams may have up to 4 players on their reserve roster, and up to 7 on their practice roster. 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. The average salary per player in 2011 was $82,500.
Eligible non-imports (usually from CIS football or American college football) are drafted by teams in the annual Canadian College Draft. The CFL Draft usually takes place in May and consists of six rounds. The first two rounds of the draft are usually shown live on TSN. An evaluation camp similar to the NFL Combine, follows the draft. 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 when the BC Lions claimed Andrew Harris). Teams maintain "negotiation lists" of players they wish to sign as free agents.
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.
Also on September 14, 1958 a regular season CFL game was played in the United States, at Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders by a score of 24–18.
In the days when sports teams were financed almost entirely by ticket sales, the CFL and NFL were, financially speaking, on relatively equal footing. 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, Joe Theismann, Cameron Wake, Doug Flutie, Brandon Browner, and Jeff Garcia. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy is also a good example. On the other hand, there have also been cases of NFL stars coming to the CFL and failing to excel, such as Vince Ferragamo, Onterrio Smith and Ricky Williams. 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.
|Ted Workman (interim)||1967|
|Roy McMurtry (interim)||1990|
|J. Donald Crump||1990–1991|
|Phil Kershaw (interim)||1992|
|David Braley (interim)||2002|
1. The Tiger-Cats' previous stadium, Ivor Wynne Stadium, closed October 27, 2012. Its replacement, New Hamilton Stadium, is not set to be completed until 2014. On November 20, 2012, the Tiger Cats announced they will play at a renovated Alumni Stadium at the University of Guelph until their new stadium is complete.
2. The Alouettes play their regular season games at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium and playoff games at Olympic Stadium.
Expansion (2014 and beyond)
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. 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 and legal delays have delayed the start of play for the Ottawa franchise until 2014 at the earliest.
Halifax, Moncton, Quebec City, London, and Windsor also have been lobbying for Canadian Football League franchises in recent years. With Atlantic Canada, 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 the maritime provinces were Huskies Stadium in Halifax and Canada Games Stadium in Saint John, both of which only seat 11,000, even with temporary seating. (King George V Park in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, has a similar capacity, even without temporary stands, but the province has never hosted gridiron football at any level.) As of 2010, the new largest stadium in the Maritimes is the 10,000-seat Moncton Stadium which is expandable to 20,000 seats, making a CFL franchise possible. A pre-season game, dubbed Touchdown Atlantic, was held in Halifax in the 2005 CFL season and regular season games were played in Moncton in 2010 and 2011. All 20,000 seats for the 2010 Moncton game sold out in 32 hours.
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. 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. Saint Marche entered a joint venture agreement with Quebec City Lawyer Marc Bellemare, a star candidate with the Liberal Party in the Quebec election of 2003, with Saint Marche escrowing the first $20 million. 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. Bellemare had tried to expand PEPS Stadium, but the Université Laval did not want to expand the stadium due to fear that fans would stop attending CIS games in favour of professional games. During the 2010 Grey Cup state of the league news conference, Cohon noted that the Alouettes hold the rights for the entire province of Quebec and that any expansion would have to be negotiated with them first. Cohon also said that he has not yet had any conversations with Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall regarding said expansion.
London hosted a 2002 exhibition game between Hamilton and Toronto; the game was held at TD Waterhouse Stadium, which expands to 16,000 seats, slightly below what the CFL would demand for a full-time team.
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. However, Gadsden indicated the team, if he were to own it, would possibly be based at the Silverdome indoor stadium in Pontiac, Michigan; on the American side of the area.
Western New York has also been mentioned as a potential expansion site; Gadsden mentioned Rochester as another potential market for his team, 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. Buffalo's UB Stadium (29,000) and Coca-Cola Field (19,500, with potential for expansion although the stadium is currently strictly used for the Buffalo Bisons baseball team) 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 lacks a stadium with a sufficient seating capacity. Both Frontier Field and Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester (the former a baseball stadium, the latter a soccer stadium) seat fewer than 14,000. The only other stadiums in the region that could possibly support a CFL team would be the 46,000-seat Carrier Dome in Syracuse and the 25,000-seat Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca.
In early 2012, management at Credit Union Centre publicly expressed its desire to bring a CFL team to the city of Saskatoon. However, the Regina-based Saskatchewan Roughriders have long branded themselves as a province-wide team, and claimed that Saskatchewan is too small to support two teams. In any event, Saskatoon also lacks a suitable outdoor stadium (the largest, Griffiths Stadium, seats only 6,171 spectators).
Defunct and inactive teams
|Team||City||Stadium||Years in CFL|
|Atlantic Schooners||Halifax, Nova Scotia||proposed for 1984||none|
|Baltimore Stallions||Baltimore, Maryland||Memorial Stadium||1994–1995|
|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|
|Miami Manatees||Miami, Florida||proposed for 1996||none|
|Ottawa Renegades||Ottawa, Ontario||Frank Clair Stadium||2002–2005|
|Ottawa Rough Riders||Ottawa, Ontario||Frank Clair Stadium||1876–1996|
|Sacramento Gold Miners||Sacramento, California||Hornet Stadium||1993–1994|
|San Antonio Texans||San Antonio, Texas||Alamodome||1995|
|Shreveport Pirates||Shreveport, Louisiana||Independence Stadium||1994–1995|
- ^ The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were created in 1950 as a merger of the Hamilton Tigers (founded 1869 as the Hamilton Foot Ball Club, and merged with the Hamilton Alerts in 1914) and the Hamilton Flying Wildcats. Ivor Wynne Stadium is slated for closure in 2012, to be replaced by New Hamilton Stadium in 2014; the Tiger-Cats have not made plans for the 2013 season.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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 1958–1981) and Montreal Concordes (founded 1982, renamed the Montreal Alouettes in 1986, folded just before the 1987 season). However this does not include the Montreal Football Club that was formed in 1872, and joined the IRFU in 1907–1915, and the Montreal AAA Winged Wheelers, who played in the IRFU during the 1930s and 40's, winning the Grey Cup in 1931.
- ^ Created by a merger of the Winnipegs (whose roots go back to 1879) and the St. John's team on June 10, 1930, and become known as the "Winnipeg Pegs" before changing to the current name, Blue Bombers, in 1936.
- ^ Not related to the Vancouver Grizzlies, who played one season in 1941.
- ^ Roots go back to the Calgary Rugby Foot-ball Club, which formed in 1909.
- ^ While football in Edmonton was first played in 1890, the Edmonton Eskimos recognize their first season in 1949. This was further evidenced by the "60 seasons" decals worn on their helmets during the 2008 season.
- ^ Became Saskatchewan Roughriders officially in 1950, after the team became the only pro football team left in the province in 1948.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Percival Molson Memorial Stadium Phase II construction was completed in 2010, adding an additional 5,000 seats, in the northwest corner and east grandstand.
- ^ 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.
- Canadian football
- Canadian Football Act
- Canadian Football Hall of Fame
- Canadian Junior Football League
- Football Canada
- Canadian Football League attendance
- Comparison of American and Canadian football
- List of Canadian Football League records
- List of Canadian Football League seasons
- List of Canadian Football League stadiums
- Canadian Football League attendance
- Sports in Canada
- Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada
- List of professional sports teams in the United States and Canada
- List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues
- TSN Top 50 CFL Players
- 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.281
- William Houston (December 20, 2006). "Grey Cup moves to TSN in new deal". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved December 23, 2006.
- Canadian Press (June 8, 2006). "Survey: Canadian interest in pro football is on the rise". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Archived from the original on February 1, 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2006.
- "Expansion project approved". En.montrealalouettes.com. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- "Eskimos digging their new digs". Cfl.ca. May 27, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Canada (May 4, 2010). "Demise of famous roof begins BC Place renewal". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- "Pan Ams will leave lasting legacy". Thespec.com. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Update on plans for downtown Regina domed stadium coming: Enterprise Minister Ken Cheveldayoff[dead link]
- "New Lansdowne designs unveiled". Cfl.ca. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
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- "CFL ends working agreement with NFL". National Post. Canada. November 25, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- "Bills’ plan exposes NFL-CFL relationship". Sportsnet.ca. October 20, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- "CFL considering Quebec or Halifax expansion". CBC Sports Online. November 14, 2003. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- "Calvillo, Alouettes hammer Renegades". CBC Sports Online. June 9, 2003. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- Canadian Press (April 9, 2006). "CFL suspends operations of Renegades". TSN.ca. Archived from the original on March 18, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- Adam Richardson (January 27, 2006). "CFL returning to Halifax". Halifax Daily News. Archived from the original on March 22, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "Moncton is CFL's best bet for a 10th team".
- Crase, Dave. New stadium puts hopes for a CFL franchise on high. CanWestNews Service. April 23, 2008.
- Huras, Adam (February 10, 2009). "Officials keen on CFL games in Moncton". Telegraph-Journal. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
- "CFL Sees Numbers Rise At The Gates". Sports Business Daily. November 17, 2005. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "2012 CFL Attendance". Canadian Football Statistics Database. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Sold-out stadiums and strong attendance across the board lead to highest average since 1983". CFL.ca. November 8, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
- url=http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/story/?id=410346%7Ctitle=100th Grey Cup Game Sets Viewership Records for TSN|accessdate=May 31, 2013|publisher=TSN.ca
- "CFL Game Schedule Announced". CFL.ca. February 14, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2007.
- "Partnership of champions". CFL.ca. August 8, 2005. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- Kelly, Malcolm. "Argonauts corral Stampeders for Grey Cup on home turf". CBC. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- "Broadcast". CFL.ca. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "Schedule". CFL.ca. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "CFL announces updated schedule". CFL.ca. April 17, 2006. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "CFL to introduce instant replay for 2006". CFL.ca. June 13, 2006. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "CFL debuts live webcast for entire schedule". CFL.ca. June 22, 2006. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- William Houston (November 20, 2006). "Minor rise in Grey Cup ratings good for CBC". Globe and Mail. Canada. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- McMillan, Ken (May 25, 2012). No CFL on NFLN, eh?. HudsonValley.com. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- 100th Grey Cup Game to air live in US on NBC Sports Network.
- "54, 40 or Fight" (PDF). Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Naylor, David (November 22, 2008). "Berman still shows loyalty to CFL". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved November 23, 2008.
- "CFL available in all U.S. markets". CFL.ca. June 13, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2007.
- "CFL moves to a new home in the US". CFL.ca. June 13, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
- "Canadian Football League back on NFL Network". Retrieved June 25, 2011.
- CFL broadcasters page. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
- "CFL Gets Sirius". CFL.ca. April 24, 2006. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- Canadian Press (January 14, 2009). "CFL salary cap won't change". Globe and Mail (Canada). Retrieved January 14, 2009.
- "New CFL-CFLPA CBA at a glance". CFL.ca. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
- "Salary Management System". CFL.ca. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- CFL.ca – Official Site of the Canadian Football League CFL – Import/Non-Import Classification
- "Organization of the CFLPA". CFLPA.ca. Archived from the original on November 2, 2006. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "TransGlobe Evaluation Camp". CFL.ca. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
- "Harris completes journey from bleachers to Grey Cup glory". TSN.ca. November 28, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- Brunt, Stephen (November 26, 2010). "Americans excel at Canadian football". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved November 27, 2010.
- Jim Bender (August 22, 2006). "NFL experience doesn't translate". Winnipeg Sun. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
- Living in the moment, Williams enjoying his time in Canada USA Today November 6, 2006. "Up here... I can block, play tight end, running back, receiver—even play the line. The NFL is so structured—'You do this.'"
- NFL vs. CFL with former University of Miami Tailback Jarrett Payton and Pete McMurray on YouTube Uploaded July 22, 2008. "You have to be able to block, catch, and run the ball [in the CFL]"
- "Ticats to play 2013 Season at University of Guelph". TSN.ca. November 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "CFL grants conditional team to Ottawa". TSN.ca. March 18, 2008.
- "Walling: The CFL will be coming east". The Sports Network. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Windsor 'ready and willing' for CFL expansion team
- "Cohon has Moncton on his mind". National Post. Canada. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
- "CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE | CFL's Touchdown Atlantic". Newswire.ca. May 28, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- "CFL game in Moncton a sellout". Canada: CBC. March 25, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "Calvillo, Alouettes hammer Renegades". CBC Sports Online. June 9, 2003. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- . Montreal Gazette http://web.archive.org/web/20090511135932/http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/British+woman+wants+football+franchise+Quebec+City/1574258/story.html. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009. Missing or empty
- Globe and Mail (Canada) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080903.wcflfeds0903/BNStory/Front
|url=missing title (help).[dead link]
- "CFL road to Quebec City goes via Montreal: Cohon". CBC Sports Online. November 26, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
- . TSN. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Naylor, David."Ex-NFLer wants CFL to expand to U.S.". Globe and Mail (Toronto). February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.[dead link]
- 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. April 1, 2008.
- No Name."Saskatoon CFL team under discussion". Ottawa: CBC l. February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
- Became the Montreal Alouettes in 1996; the league considers the current franchise a revival of the previous incarnation.
- "History of the Montreal Alouettes". CFL.ca. Retrieved December 4, 2006.
- "History". Bluebombers.com. September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "Calgary Stampeders — Team — Tradition". Stampeders.com. October 27, 1945. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.282
- "History". Esks.com. August 23, 1978. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- O'Brien, Steve (2005), The Canadian Football League: The Phoenix of Professional Sports Leagues, Lulu Press, ISBN 978-1-4116-5860-8
- Maher, Tod (2012), The Canadian Pro Football Encyclopedia: Every Player, Coach and Game, ISBN 978-0-9835136-3-6
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