Some of the NFL’s greatest got their start in the CFL
NFL is the most dominant professional sports league on the planet, but now and then, it relies on stealing away the best talent of the CFL. While many CFL talents burn out quickly and end up home soon (Weston Dressler, Henry Burris, Andy Fantuz), a small number manage to stick around for a while, and make an impact on the game. With a couple Canadians, and CFL stars playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d give you my top five CFL-to-NFL players.
- Doug Flutie (NFL: 1986-1989, 1998-2005 CFL: 1990-1997)
Flutie is legendary at just about every level he played at, including college football, and the defunct USFL. Flutie’s career was hectic, starting in the NFL, moving to the CFL to incredible success, and back to the NFL to end his career. Flutie made the most out his small stature (5’9, 180 lb.), and is known as one of the games great gunslingers. Flutie’s accomplishments include: Six time CFL MOP, three time Grey Cup Champion, three time Grey Cup MVP, a Pro-Bowler in the NFL, and the 1998 Comeback Player of the Year award winner. Pretty good for a guy kicked to the curb numerous times.
- Bud Grant (CFL: 1957-1966 NFL: 1967-1983, 1985)
I might be cheating, but I’d be remised if I didn’t add one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Bud Grant coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four straight Grey Cups in the 50s and 60s, and then jumped to the NFL where he became the only football coach to win a Grey Cup and Super Bowl, after winning with the Minnesota Vikings where he would coach for 16 years. He ranks 16th all-time in NFL wins, and is a Pro-Football Hall of Famer, class of 1994.
- Joe Theismann (CFL: 1971-‘73, NFL: 1974-1985)
Arguably one of the biggest CFL steals of all-time, Theismann signed with the Argos in 1971 after he ended negotiations with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Theismann enjoyed ok success in the CFL, but really hit his stride when he jumped back to the NFL and the Washington professional football team. Theismann won the Super Bowl in 1983 in Washington, and took home two MVP awards in 1982 and 1983. Unfortunately, Theismann also has arguably the most gruesome sports injury of all-time when he was sacked by NFL legend Lawrence Taylor, and snapped his leg in half. His best season in the NFL was a 29 TD to 11 INT performance, and 3,714 yards, huge numbers for the time.
- Cameron Wake (CFL: 2007-08 NFL: 2009-Present)
Our only active player, Cameron Wake was the most dominant player in the CFL for two years, compiling a mind blowing 39 sacks in those two short years. Wake won the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie award in 2007 and Most Outstanding Defensive Player award in 2007 and 2008, before he jumped to the Miami Dolphins in 2009. Relatively unknown in NFL circles, Wake really hit his stride in 2010 with a 14-sack season. Wake has 63 sacks in just six seasons in the NFL, and is considered one of the very best pass rushers in the NFL, even Tom Brady makes a point to fear him.
- Warren Moon (CFL: 1978-1983 NFL: 1984-2000)
This one was a no brainer. Warren Moon went undrafted due to biases against black quarterbacks, and made everyone regret it by dominating in the CFL with five straight Grey Cups, an MVP, and a CFL Hall of Famer. Moon continued that success in the NFL, becoming a franchise quarterback for the Houston Oilers. Moon even retired as the NFL’s all-time leading passer, despite spending five years in the CFL. Moon won numerous NFL awards, and while he never won a Super Bowl, he entered the Hall of Fame in 2006.