CFL vs. NFL
‘The CFL is a league of real men’
When it comes to the great superiority debate between the Canadian Football League and National Football League, a lot of people – many Canadians included – are quick to write off the CFL as an inferior league with inferior players. Those people suck, and here’s why:
The CFL, on the whole, is a much more exciting game. Three-down football is where boys become men. Who needs four downs to move the ball 10 yards? Americans, that’s who. The Canadian rules make for a throw-the-ball offense, which is what draws my attention to the game more than anything. There’s nothing sweeter than seeing that Hail Mary bomb sent downfield for a huge reception.
Another Canada-only rule that allows for such big plays is the running start. In the NFL, receivers can’t be running towards the line of scrimmage when the ball is hiked –not so in the CFL. This means players are already headed downfield looking for the pass when the quarterback gets the ball. Our wider field and deeper end zones don’t hurt the throwing game either.
Another reason the CFL is a better and more exciting product is the variation on time-stoppage rules, especially in terms of late-game comebacks. In the NFL, coming back in the final minutes is virtually impossible because once a team has the ball they can effectively kill two whole minutes off the clock without gaining a first down. In the CFL, the ball goes back and forth until about the last 30 seconds, and late-game comebacks are not only common, they’re expected.
Also, we play with 12 players to the NFL’s 11, because common sense dictates that more is better than less.
Except, of course, if you’re talking about the size of the league itself. The NFL, with its 32 teams, means many teams rarely, if ever, get to play each other. Up here in Canada, every game is a rivalry. Also, six out of eight teams in the CFL make the playoffs, because we like to give as many teams a chance as possible.
In keeping with the general warmness that comes with equal opportunity, we also share players. In your average 10-year CFL career, a player will likely play in all eight cities, because sharing is what being a Canadian is all about.
The NFL is like the CFL’s bloated, rich, flashy cousin – much like the USA is to Canada. Of the nearly 1,700 active players in the NFL, the average salary is almost $2 million. Rookies in the NFL make a minimum of $325,000. Compare that to the average CFL salary of around $60,000, and it’s easy to see why the NFL is full of egotistical, gun-toting, self-congratulatory pricks.
The CFL is a league of real men, playing football for the love of the game. It’s a league where, in the off-season, you can buy real estate from your quarterback, have your placekicker clean your carpets or vote your fullback into city council. And in the end, isn’t that what football is all about?
‘The NFL holds an undisputed advantage over the CFL’
Every time write an article arguing against the CFL or the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I feel like I am one step closer to being lynched in a back alley once readers learn what my face looks like. With that said, I’m doing it again.
Call me a traitor, but I think that the NFL’s football product eclipses the CFL in terms of overall quality. I honestly believe that much of the popularity of the CFL can be attributed to the fact that it is Canadian. Americans get a bad wrap for being overly patriotic, but Canadians are just as nationalistic when it comes to sports.
I want to get some quick things out of the way before I get into the meat of this argument. The NFL holds an undisputed advantage over the CFL in terms of player talent and fan accessibility. NFL players are the pinnacle of football talent, capable of accomplishing feats that are beyond the abilities of most players in the CFL, and when you pit these players against each other, the result is the best football entertainment on the planet.
None of those points are in dispute. What often sparks debate between pundits of both leagues are the rule differences between the Canadian and American games. The most obvious is the number of downs.
The NFL is often criticized for the “slow” game that comes as a result of four downs that bring about more running plays. In the CFL, three downs forces teams to throw the ball more often and stretch the field. For people with short attention spans, or modest understanding of football, I can see how moving up and down the field in big chunks would be entertaining. However, this actually hinders the dynamics of the game.
With four downs, teams can run the ball more often if they choose. This is a good thing. There is nothing intrinsically boring about watching the running game for the more educated football fan. Running plays still offer the same highlight-reel moves and bone-rattling hits that are synonymous with football. Additionally, an effective running attack also forces defensive coordinators to continuously expand and contract the spread of their defensive formations to accommodate for the varied assault. Four downs increase the potential for diverse strategies because the penalty for a short gain is not as severe.
Yes, CFL games are said to be higher-scoring – although, as far as I know, no one has actually substantiated that yet – but points are simply numbers on a board. The real excitement of a football game is watching the chess match unfold and change as the game moves on.
Another facet of the CFL that I feel disrupts the authenticity of the game is the way Canadian football handles overtime. Yeah, that’s right, I am one of the few people on the planet who like the NFL’s overtime rules better. If the point of overtime is to briefly extend the game until a winner is declared, the NFL overtime does its job. Many people have argued that it is unfair for a team to win with an opening drive field goal without giving the other team a chance to have the ball. Changes to the rules this year have solved this problem. Frankly, the defensive team does have a chance to stop the other team from scoring a touchdown and winning the game, and if they can’t do that, they should rightfully lose.
CFL overtime is a watered down version of the game that starts each team at the 35-yard line, and lets them repeatedly take pot-shots at the end zone until someone wins.
Ultimately, the NFL maintains the authenticity of how football should be played in the first place, while the CFL just removes parts of what they had.