The CFL -Official Football

Canadian Football – The CFL

When it comes to Canada and the USA, there seems to be a long-reigning motto that goes: “anything you can do, we can do better”.

Canada invented ice hockey in 1875? The USA responded with its own ice hockey league. The USA invented American football in 1892? Canada responded with its own version. 

The two countries seem to be constantly battling it out – all in good fun, of course – forcing the other to play harder and better if they want to be the true masters of their own sport. Having said this, ice hockey is indiscriminately “Canadian”, and American football is indiscriminately “American”. By which we mean, surely any Canadian hockey team would beat an American team on the day, and vice-versa? 

Well, perhaps not. In fact, there have been a fair few whispers over the last few years that Canadian Football CFL is… perhaps… just a little bit… better than the NFL.

That’s a strong statement. We even feel a little funny just saying it. But some significant regulation and rule changes in the Canadian game have certainly led to the comparisons to be made, with many starting to edge the bet in Canada’s favour. So what exactly is Canadian Football CFL, and what makes it so good? Let’s start with the 101:

Canadian Football CFL: The 101

  • The CFL began in 1956, when the WIFU and IRFU formed an umbrella organisation.
  • Two years after the organisation was formed, the CFL took control of the Grey Cup, which is the largest annual sports event in Canada.
  • The CFL is the highest level of competition in the country, with the league consisting of nine teams, a 21-week season and 18 games for each team. 
  • It runs from mid-June to early November, and at the end, there are playoffs which culminate in the Grey Cup championship game.
  • Since its inception, CFL has been steadily building its audience, with the largest audience average documented in the 2022 season – 1.6 million.
  • It is not as popular as ice hockey in Canada, but its popularity is beginning to grow on the international stage.

The Cascading History Of Canadian Football CFL

The Late 1890s

The history of Canadian Football CFL began discreetly when a student from the University of Toronto borrowed a pair of binoculars to check up on the next-door neighbours. Deep inside a bush, he watched as a collection of Americans threw a ball around and charged head-first into each other. Filled with jealousy that the Americans should form a new sport without telling them, he raced back to college, and the very first Canadian Rugby Football Union was established.

Okay… maybe that’s not exactly how it went down. But it’s how the Americans like to think it did. In reality, the Canadian Rugby Football Union was formed as a sort of merger between the game of rugby and football. In the late 1890s, the rules then began to bend a little bit, factoring in more of American football’s laws to form a sort of hybrid sport. 

The Early- To Mid-1900s

In 1907, several clubs across Ontario and Quebec established the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union, bringing things to a more serious level. Later on, in 1936, more major clubs – this time including Alberta Manitoba and Saskatchewan – formed the Western Interprovincial Football Union, and from that point on, the two unions began to evolve from amateur to professional.

By the time World War II ended, the leagues were fully professional, and it was at this moment that the WIFU and IRFU decided to combine and become the Canadian Football Council in 1956. The Grey Cup – which had been contested for over fifty years by this point – was taken possession of, with amateurs officially locked out of playing. This was a big deal in the country because the Grey Cup was a symbol of pride – a momentous achievement in the same vein as the Stanley Cup. 

The Late 1900s

With the CFL in the driver’s seat, the buzz and excitement around the Grey Cup grew, with a number of dynasties and upsets taking place throughout the years – including the incredible five-consecutive Grey Cup wins by the Edmonton Eskimos in the late 1970s – but things didn’t necessarily go swimmingly after. 

In 1993, the CFL decided to expand the league to the United States, adding a number of American teams into a so-called South Division. This was not exactly thought-through, however, as the American teams had the advantage of being inside their own rules and regulations, meaning they were not bound by the CFL’s player quotas. 

The expansion also worsened the financial issues in a number of Canadian teams, with inconsistent performances eventually prompting the CFL to turn away from the experiment and seal off the Canadian borders once again. It should be noted, however, that despite the advantage of the American teams, they only had one winner from 1993 to 1996, with the Baltimore Stallions taking the cup in 1995

The 2000s Onwards

Since the failed expansion experiment, the Grey Cup – and the CFL itself – has regained its composure and continued to entertain the masses. As mentioned before, the international appeal is also beginning to grow. Many consider it to be more entertaining than the NFL, with the playing field being longer and wider and the rules being far more conducive to creativity and open play. 

The players in the NFL tournament are, however, technically more skilled than those in the CFL. But this is why we noted the sole win of the Stallions in 1995. Sometimes it is creativity, life and heart that wins a game, and the CFL has that in spades. Today, it is one of the most popular sports in Canada and is set to continue in this light.

Canadian Football CFL: DAZN Bet’s Pop Quiz

Now that we’ve got all the details out of the way, it’s time to look at a few facts about the game itself. Below is a little pop quiz to give you an idea of the games that have taken place in the CFL and the legacies that have been created:

Q: Who Has Won The Most Grey Cup Championships?

A: The Toronto Argonauts have won the most Grey Cup championships, with 18 wins overall, followed by the Edmonton Eskimos with 14 and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with 13.

Q: Who Has  Scored The Most Touchdowns In The CFL?

A: The legend, Milt Stegall, scored the most touchdowns with a total of 147 in his illustrious career. Behind him is George Reed, with 137, and Mike Pringle, also with 137.

Q: What Is The Biggest CFL Scoreline?

A: The largest score by a single team in the CFL is 87, which was won by Edmonton in 2005.

Q: What Was The Largest Margin Of Victory?

A:  The largest margin of victory, however, was 59, with Calgary Stampeders beating Hamilton Tiger-Cats by 60 points to 1. Ouch.

Q: What Is The Biggest CFL Rivalry?

A: The highest-rated CFL rivalry has to be the Saskatchewan Roughriders against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, with the second most popular being the Stampeders versus the Eskimos.

Q: Who Is The Most Popular CFL Player Of All Time?

A: Well, there are many. But no one can deny the greatness that is Damon Allon. He was a quarterback for Edmonton, British Columbia and Toronto. He won four Grey Cup titles in his career and in 2005, he was awarded the CFL Most Outstanding Player Award.

Q: Is The CFL Really Better Than The NFL?

A: At the end of the day, the answer of whether the CFL edges the NFL is completely subjective, so it’s up to you! Some people seem to think so, but others might be sharpening their pitchforks at the very idea that this is being bandied around. The best thing you can do is tune in and see for yourself.