Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins, Jerrell Freeman of the Indianapolis Colts and soon to be Armond Armstead are NFL Pro Bowl caliber players that were plucked from the CFL( Canadian Football League).
Now these three players are not the first to come from the CFL. Hall of Famer Warren Moon and Doug Flutie started out in the CFL also. Moon played for the Edmonton Eskimos and helped lead the Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cups from 1978-1982. During that stretch Moon won Grey Cup Offensive Player of the Game in 1980 and 1982. In 1982 Moon became the first professional football player to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, hitting 5,000 exactly. He followed up his 5,000 yard season by passing for 5,648 yards in 1983, his final year in the CFL. It took Moon six years to make it to the NFL but once he did he led Houston’s high-octane offense 10 years and spent another seven years with Minnesota, Seattle, and Kansas City. Moon amassed 49,325 yards passing in his NFL career.
Doug Flutie found a different way from the CFL to the NFL. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1985 draft, and bounced around the league a few years and become the New England Patriots starter in 1988 with little success. He signed with the BC Lions in 1990 and become a CFL legend. Flutie won Grey Cup MVP three times, and the CFL Most Outstanding Player six times. Flutie returned to the NFL in 1998 for the Buffalo Bills, finding more success than in his first stint.
Cameron Wake has been an anchor on the Dolphins defensive line since 2009. He has 43 sacks in that time period, with 15 coming this season. Wake was a linebacker in college but when he signed with BC Lions they moved his to defensive end and his career exploded.
Jerrell Freeman’s rise to 145 tackles, 2 sacks and an interception in his rookie year is different from the previous three. Jerrell doesn’t have Flutie’s hail mary pass, or Heisman trophy. He didn’t even play D1 football like Moon or Wake, he played D3 football at Mary-Harden Baylor. He went undrafted 2008 but was signed b the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent, and released shortly after. He then played three season in the CFL for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 2011 he led the CFL in tackles and drew interest from the Indianapolis Colts. In his first game he had a pick six off Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears.
Armond Armstead has went to the CFL for different reasons. He was a standout defensive tackle for USC. At 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds he has NFL size. What has slowed Armstead’s NFL dreams is he suffered a heart attack and had to prove he was healthy enough for NFL teams. Armstead says the heart attack was a result of painkillers prescribed to him and is in a lawsuit with USC over the matter. This season he played for the Toronto Argonauts and had six sacks and helped lead Toronto to a Grey Cup victory.
The CFL has become like minor league baseball, or the D-League in basketball. There is talent up there waiting to be found. It just takes NFL teams to look at what is up north to upgrade their teams without breaking the bank. These three players could be the start of a NFL gold rush in the CFL. By Steve Kish