I’m getting my football fix by way of Canada

Published 10:11 am Friday, June 30, 2017

I’m getting my football fix.

The Canadian Football League is on the air and I couldn’t be happier.

The CFL’s season began with a flurry of games last Thursday, with several of them broadcast on ESPN or streamed on Watch ESPN, and they had some good contests. The Saturday night game between Hamilton and Edmonton went down to the wire, with the Eskimos winning on a field goal in the final two seconds.

I did a column last year extolling the virtues of the game played above the U.S.’ northern border, and I still stand by the praise of the game. It provides a good way for me to get ready for college football, because the majority of the players are not much older than the guys I see every Saturday in the fall, and they play the same way — animated and energetic.

And I like the way the game is played. At one time during the start of the college season, I had a college game on TV and was streaming a Canadian game on my phone; an activity that had my wife questioning my sanity. (She doesn’t do it when I watch a college game and stream another.)

I like the large field, three downs to make a first, no fair catch (but the receiver must have a 5-yard cushion to catch the ball), the ability of players in the backfield (with the exception of the quarterback) to move toward the line before the ball is snapped, the attitudes of the players — they look like they’re having fun. As yet, I haven’t seen the mass of prima donnas I see in the NFL.

And there is a very strong connection between Canadian and our American style of football besides the shape of the ball. Canadian teams are allowed to draft a certain number of American college players, and some pros go north to continue playing.

A little trivia: at least three Canadian League quarterbacks have played for American teams — Warren Moon (the Houston Oilers and Seattle Seahawks), Joe Kapp (Minnesota Vikings) and Dieter Brock (Los Angeles Rams). Moon and Kapp had outstanding careers in the U.S. Brock, who tore up the CFL as a quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, was not as successful.

Former Ole Miss quarterback, and later offensive coordinator, Kent Austin played for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, leading them to the 1989 Grey Cup, is head coach for the Hamilton TigerCats. One of his receivers is former LSU standout Terrence Tolliver. Former SMU quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell plays for the Calgary Stampeders. The late Alex Karras, an all-star defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, once did the expert commentary for CFL broadcasts.

College football is still more than a month away and the sports websites are picking bowl match-ups and some sites are counting down the days.

But in the meantime, I’m getting in the mood. Thanks, CFL.

And as I said last year, give the CFL a try. You might enjoy it.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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