Football

The Northern Brand of Football

The Canadian Football League took a seat on the bench last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFL will return to action with 14 game schedule for the 2021 season on August 5th. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be on the title defense. The CFL is known to have different rules than traditional NFL football, and there may be some more changes coming.

There have been discussions between the CFL and the XFL about a potential merger between the two leagues. There is nothing official yet and it is all just speculation. Some XFL rules could be inserted either to add to or replace certain longstanding CFL rules.

What’s the difference?

The main differences of the CFL start with the field, which is 110 yards with the 55 yard line acting as midfield. Because of that, 12 players can be on the field for a team at a time. Most already know about the three downs as a opposed to four. Something not as will known is the motion and shifting that is allowed. Any kind of motion is allowed as long you don’t cross the line. Receivers are allowed to get a running start to get into their routes. There is also different terminology when it comes to penalties. For example, in the NFL we hear “false start, offense number 15” and see a yellow flag. In Canada, you would hear something like “procedure foul, Winnipeg number 69” with an orange flag.

Another example is a “major foul” as opposed your traditional unnecessary roughness penalties. In terms of the kicking game, there are no fair catches. On punts, the retuner as a five year cushion before anybody can make contact with him. An extra point is called a convert. In certain situations a ball kicked into an endzone can result as a one point which is often referred to as a rouge or a single. As of last season, teams could kick the ball to advance a fumble. Certain penalties can also be challenged.

Where the XFL fits in

The XFL season featured different kickoff rules, 2 and 3 point conversations, only needing one foot in bounds to make a catch, relaxed forward pass rules, and an overtime format similar to the college game. Those rules could make their way north depending on how talks of the merger go. The CFL season usually starts earlier in the summer, but adjustments had to be made with the hope that next year will be normal.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are coming off their first Grey Cup championship win in 29 years and compete in the West Division with the British Columbia Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Elks (formerly known as the Eskimos), and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In the East Division are last seasons Grey Cup runner ups – the Hamilton Tiger- Cats, along with the Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Redblacks, and Toronto Argonauts.

A return to sports normalcy would be much appreciated by our neighbors to the north, but a lot of work still must be done to keep those COVID numbers down.

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