Best Canadian-Born NFL Players Of All-Time

The NFL is typically thought of as an American sports league but there is no denying that Canada has had its share of influence on the league as a whole. From influencing rule changes in the league to adding some talented players into the league’s overall talent pool, there is no doubt that Canada has put its fingerprints on the National Football League. One of the ways it has done so is by introducing the NFL to the very best it has to offer.

Eddie Murray

Apart from introducing the challenge rule for penalties that the NFL has since implemented, Canada has brought some elite special team players into the league. Perhaps none moreso than Eddie Murray, whose longevity in the league was without compare for Canadian-born players. Murray spent two decades in the NFL, kicking 352 field goals successfully in 250 career games. He spent the bulk of his career with the Detroit Lions, but bounced around the NFC East in the late stages of his time in the league.

Austin Collie

The story of Austin Collie is an interesting one, in that the diminutive wide receiver flew under the radar in the explosive Peyton Manning-led Colts offenses of the early 2010s. But while Collie wasn’t as highly regarded as Reggie Wayne in the Colts’ receiving corps, he was effective during his five years in the league. Collie averaged over 10 yards per catch for his career, securing 16 touchdown catches before concussions interfered with his career.

Nate Burleson

Nate Burleson was a player who was highly regarded wherever he went, as evidenced by the fact that he managed to spend at least three years with every team he joined during his NFL career. Burleson spent a decade in the league, splitting that time between the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Detroit Lions. He caught over 450 balls for his career, 39 of which went for touchdowns. Today, Burleson is a very successful broadcaster as he continues to represent Canada in his coverage of the game.

Bronko Nagurski

Born in Ontario, Bronko Nagurski was a player from a different era of the game of football. He was a fullback who routinely carried the football, averaging around four yards per carry and scoring 25 touchdowns on the ground during a career that lasted from 1930 to 1943. With versatility being a requirement of that era, Nagurski had to do a little bit of everything. He even threw seven passing touchdowns in his career. It was that versatility that helped him get into the Hall of Fame, where he will forever be remembered as one of the greats to hail from Canada.

Mike Vanderjagt

Also starring on special teams and hailing from Canada was former Indianapolis Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt. He didn’t have as long a career as Eddie Murray, but his accuracy was the stuff of legends. Vanderjagt made over 85% of his career field goal attempts, and missed just two extra points in his entire career. It took a decade after his career was done for another kicker to break his record for consecutive field goals made.

The kicker to break that record, by the way, was Adam Vinateiri, who is entering his 24th season in the league this year. Vinatieri had to kick 43 straight made field goals in order to break the record, an achievement that may never be reached again given how difficult it is to find consistency in the kicking game. Thanks in large part to his accurate kicking, his Indianapolis Colts sit at +1200 odds to win Super Bowl LIV as of August 16, according to the Betway sports betting.

Looking Toward the Future

When looking ahead to the future of Canadian football, the future looks unquestionably bright as current players try to take the title of the best Canadian players ever from the members of this list. Players like guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff could be among the all-time greats. And, given that the sport has grown in Canada as a whole over the years, there is the potential for a new crop of players to develop and join him as the next generation of great Canadian footballers.


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