Sunday 25 April 2010

The American Perception

We as Canadians are always very mindful of our neighbours to the south. We are influenced daily by American culture. We scarf down American literature, television and movies, as well as American sports. One area that we have been able to forge our own identity is in football.

The Canadian Football League is uniquely Canadian. We play on a larger field, we ensure employment for Canadian-born or -raised talent, and we have a different set of rules that govern our game. It is this set of rules that has made it hard for American-trained players to come up and dominate in the CFL. It takes years of practice and learning to excel at Canada's brand of football.

It's why I get angry when I see quotes like this:
"If I go to the CFL, I'll have the opportunity to go up there and play a lot of football and do what I did in college."
And this:
"Matt can take over the CFL."
Those two quotes, one by former USF Bulls star QB Matt Grothe and the other by his agent, John Phillips, come from an article on Grothe's professional football future. Grothe is on the Tiger-Cats negotiation list and is being touted as a possible prospect to land on the Ti-Cats practice roster for 2010.

Grothe was a great player for the Bulls during his collegiate career. He combined for more total yards than anyone in the history of the Big East Conference and will go down as one of the greatest QBs in USF history. Grothe has immense talent, and as a friend of Doug Flutie, who is arguably the greatest player in CFL history, Grothe might have some insight into how to successfully transition from the NCAA to the CFL.

Then you read the quotes above and wonder if he sees the CFL as some bush league that any American-bred player can immediately conquer. It's that arrogance that has sent many a player back to the good ol' US of A with his tail between his legs.

Just last season former Rice star Chase Clement came to Hamilton thinking he could walk into the starter's role and left less than two days later. Some say it was because he didn't like Canada, while others say he left to preserve his status as a legend in his hometown. Either way, he didn't make it in Canada after being told he'd be a star just by showing up.

For every Doug Flutie (Boston College), Danny McManus (Florida State) or Warren Moon (Washington) who made his mark in the CFL after coming from big-time NCAA programs, there is a slew of guys who just couldn't make it. Probably the highest-profile "bust" was Ricky Williams. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 at Texas, had a very productive career (and still continues to) in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, and yet failed to produce anything significant during his one-year stint in Toronto.

Not only does history show that it's not that easy, but it's not like the Tiger-Cats don't have any QBs on the roster. I'm sure Kevin Glenn, Quinton Porter, Adam Tafralis and Jason Boltus must just love hearing that Grothe will come up here and simply take over. Glenn has nearly 10 years of experience behind him and was once nominated for Most Outstanding Player. Porter, Tafralis and Boltus haven't been here nearly as long, but they still have more experience than Grothe. Remember how well it turned out for the last QB to come to Steeltown thinking he would be the saviour? At least he had experience behind him (and an MOP award to his credit).

The battlefield is littered with the bodies of great American players who couldn't pass muster in the CFL. It's time for the American perception of the Canadian Football League to change, and change drastically. It looks like Grothe will find out the hard way that it's not as easy to become a star in Canada as his people have made it seem.


  1. I see nothing wrong with Grothe's comment... agent, yea maybe a little bit much, but Grothe is just saying he could play in CFL, I agree guys this kid is pretty good!!

  2. Timm Rosenbaugh came up here the same way. He thought he was great, did nothing and was released before the end of the season.

    The issue with these yanks coming up here with swagger is that they have no clue about the CFL game and all of its quirkyness.

    The 2 biggest adjustments, especially for QBs is the extra player and the unlimited vertical motion.

    As for the attitude, you have to be humble when you come up here. You have to realize that you will make 1/50th of what they do in the NFL and if you want to get back in the NFL, you need to use this as a stepping stone.

  3. My problem with Grothe's comment is that it sounds like he thinks he'd simply come up here and start right away.

    It all seems moot now anyway, because it doesn't look like he's going to be coming to Hamilton.