Five CFL players who affected the NFL
By Sajan Jabbal, Staff Writer
With Super Bowl Sunday now behind us, we reflect on players who played their careers north of the border with news of Calgary Stampeders superstar and three time Grey Cup Champion Alex Singleton making the jump into the big leagues, signing a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL.
Once known as the rising star of the CFL, Singleton, 25, is coming off a career season with the Stamps, who led the league in defensive tackles with 129.
Although there are many CFL players that make the jump to the NFL after success in Canada, most players are not very successful. Playing in a higher intensity league, with players of the highest skill is not easy, but here are some of the best players to play in both the CFL and the NFL.
5. Joe Horn: 1995 – 2007
During the 1994-1995 season, the CFL made an attempt to expand into the United States, bringing local teams into the league.
The Memphis Mad Dogs were one of the experiments, where wide receiver Joe Horn began his professional career. He played a great rookie season with the Mad Dogs with 71 catches and 1,415 yards that year.
Catching the attention of many NFL teams, he decided to enter the 1996 NFL draft where he went to the Kansas City chiefs in the fifth round.
The bulk of Horn’s career was played for the New Orleans Saints, where he picked up 1,340 yards in his first season with the team.
When Hurricane Katrina swept through the city of New Orleans, Horn was one of the first players to help with the relief effort. This made him a celebrity in the city that he loved, and never wanted to leave again.
He finished his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, were he finished with a total of 8,744 yards spanning 11 seasons in the NFL.
He will be known as the best receiver in Saints history.
4. Mike Vanderjagt: 1993 – 2008
Canadian Mike Vanderjagt is the most amazing place kicker the world has ever seen.
He started his career in the CFL in 1993, where he played four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Toronto Argonauts.
He logged nine seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Indianapolis Colts.
In the NFL, he completed 230 field goals out of 266, the most in NFL history. He ended his career back home with the Argos in 2008.
3. Joe Theismann: 1971 – 1985
Big bad Joe Theismann is one of the most recognized names in football history. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1971 NFL draft, but opted to start his career with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. In his 1971 rookie season as quarterback, the Argos finished first in the league with a 10 – 4 record, and took Theismann led the team to the Grey Cup final, where they lost in the final minute. He played two more seasons with the Argos, where he recieved two All-star team selections, and was arguably the best player to ever play in the CFL. He picked up an astounding 6,093 passing yards in just three seasons with the Argos.
He then made his move back to the NFL where he played for the Washington Redskins for 11 seasons. In those 11 seasons, he won a Superbowl, the NFL MVP award, was selected to the Pro Bowl twice, best offensive player of the year award, while also racking up many more accolades.
He will be known as the best player in the team’s history and finished his career with a total of 31,299 passing yards.
He is in both the CFL and NFL Hall of Fame.
2. Warren Moon: 1978 – 2000
Warren Moon is another successful quarterback on this list.
Moon went undrafted in the 1977 NFL draft, and decided to make his move to the CFL to find success. He started his career in 1978 with the Edmonton Eskimos and made an immediate impact to the teams success. With the help of Moon as quarterback, the Eskimos won five consecutive Grey Cups between 1978-82.
Moon won Grey Cup MVP in 1980/82 and won the CFL’s most outstanding player in 1983, his last season in the CFL. In 1984, Moon accepted an offer from the Houston Oilers, and he picked up where he left off in the CFL.
He played a total of 17 seasons in the NFL and although he did not win a Super Bowl, he’ll be known as one of the best passing quarterbacks in history.
Moon retired in 2000, where he recorded a total of 49,325 in the NFL.
1. Doug Flutie: 1985 – 2005
Quarterback Doug Flutie started his professional football career in the NFL in 1986, but after sitting on the bench for five years, he made the move to the CFL’s B.C. Lions, but the bulk of his career was in Calgary where he spent four years.
Flutie played eight seasons in the CFL and tallied 41,355 passing yards, threw for 270 touchdowns, averaging 306 yards per game, the most in CFL history.
Flutie made the move back to the NFL in 1998, where he played for the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and the New England Patriots.
His most significant NFL season was in 2001, where he started in all 16 games for the Chargers, and threw a passing percentage of 56.4. Although Flutie’s NFL career is nothing spectacular, he made a name for himself in the CFL as one of the best quarterbacks in its history.