Fun Facts About the Canadian Football League

The NFL season is underway. And so is the CFL season. It's more or less the same as American football, but for a few subtle differences. Here are some facts to get you up to speed on Canada's favorite sport, if you don't count hockey, curling, and lacrosse.


Unlike the open, rectangular field used in American football play, the Canadian football field is round, and encased entirely in glass and wire. 


Because too many balls got caught in the overhead wires, the CFL did away with post-score kickoffs in 1947 in favor of a jump-ball.


Teams are selected by the local fan-base, in much the same way as Canadian parliamentary elections. The annual Grey Cup champion is also the result of a vote.


Many CFL standouts have gone on to big careers in the NFL, including Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, and Rocket Ishmael. In 1997, the CFL put an end to the possibility of any more defections with the introduction of a 54-week season. 


All huddle conversations and nonverbals are required by Canadian law to be delivered in English and French. 


Beloved Canadian comic actor John Candy was a co-owner of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, and was the public face of the team, attending most home games and appearing in TV commercials. Candy inspired his castmates from SCTV to buy teams, too. During the 1982-83 season, all eight CFL teams were owned by an SCTV cast member, with the exception of the Edmonton Eskimos, owned jointly by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, because those guys did everything together.


Despite an ill-fated attempt to expand into American cities in the 1994-95 season, the CFL expanded into Mexico the following season, introducing two teams in the Mexico City are. Their whereabouts are unknown.


You've probably heard of the quirky fact that at one point there were two teams called the Rough Riders. That's not exactly true: the teams were called the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa Rough Riders. Both are relics of an ill-fated 1975 league-wide sponsorship by a condom manufacturer that required all CFL teams to be called the Roughriders (Anglophone Canada) or Rough Riders (Francophone Canada). 


In the NFL, there are three ways for a team to score: a touchdown, field goal, or safety. In the CFL, there are thousands of permutations possible. Points, and fractions thereof, are awarded for what may appear to be the same play, although with extra points added and subtracted based on the weather, overall health of the Canadian stock market, the scoring player's opinion about the "purity of the play," and, of course, the everchanging whims of the Great Canadian Oracle.


The post-score "extra point" is worth 65 points, and it is awarded if the team's coach can toss the game ball into an apple crate (formerly a peach basket) from midfield.


The highest-scoring game in Canadian history: A September 1964 became between the Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes happened during a bullish Canadian economy and an Oracle well-rested from a much needed vacation, and both team's defensive lines participating in a charity car wash to celebrate the Canadian centennial. Final score: Montreal, 431-5/8 to Calgary, 398-4/7.