CFL could make room for Canadian QBs

Written by Winnipeg Blue Bomber Doug Brown

Every off-season, usually following the CFL Canadian draft, the debate about making a mandatory spot on every roster for a Canadian quarterback resurfaces in earnest.

To update the progress of this annual idea, I can tell you this much. Though I can’t disclose many details of the current CBA negotiation, I can tell you that during my conference call with all of the player reps in the CFL and our union executives mere hours ago, a Canadian QB roster spot was not mentioned. I think in my six years as a player rep the only place I have ever heard of this idea being floated around is in public forums. But maybe now is the time to finally advance it.

Read More: [URL]http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/league-could-make-room-for-canadian-qbs-93393079.html

As initiated by Paul Hoogkamp on TSN.ca, the argument is as follows. In the Canadian Football League, where 20 players on every roster have to be Canadian and seven starters have to be Canadian, there has not been a starting Canadian quarterback since 1996 in B.C. with my fellow SFU alumnist Giulio Caravatta.

Before we end this drought, I would prefer we end a drought of a different nature that has been going on since 1990, the last year the Bombers won the Grey Cup.

The debate is whether the CFL is doing enough to provide opportunities for these young Canadian collegiate quarterbacks to transition to the pros.

The reason the CFL has a roster quota rule and a starter rule is because, other than the fact that this is the CFL, some smart people recognized long ago the inequities between the CIS and NCAA. While this gap appears to be closing, there is no discounting the differences in coaching, infrastructure and competition. With the nationalistic rules in place, teams are forced to take the time to develop and recruit domestic talent, and once they do, we all witness first-hand how well they are able to compete against their American counterparts.

But has it been enough?

Obviously, no, if you have been a quarterback playing in the CIS — though two were drafted this year. But is this a reflection of the calibre of athlete playing quarterback in Canada or not enough of a provision to accommodate them in the CFL?

I think it has more to do with the first explanation than the second, though with all fairness to these Canadian pivots, I think you have to understand the nature of the position.

In the consummate team game that football is, the quarterback has the most opportunity to impact the course of any and every football game because, outside of any wildcat formations, a QB touches the ball on every offensive snap. Thereby, to be one of only eight starting quarterbacks in the CFL you have to be a damn impressive athlete, let alone one of the only 24 of them in the entire league, which is easier said than done regardless of one’s birth certificate.

Just from my experiences on this team alone, the CFL chews up and churns out NFL-drafted quarterbacks on a yearly and seemingly monthly basis. It is not an easy gig to hold down, let alone if you have spent the last five years in the CIS learning the nuances of the position miles behind U.S. competition. If personnel managers in the CFL already found it inconvenient and expensive getting the usual CIS talent up to speed, it would only be magnified at quarterback.

Though I think quarterbacks in the CIS should start playing special teams in college and consider other positions if they want to get drafted into the CFL — just like many American QBs do in the NFL — I would not be opposed to a rule that forces one practice roster spot be allocated to a Canadian quarterback on every team to open the door a little more than it already is.

But all things being equal, I sure hope our drought ends a lot sooner.

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

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