Reporter: Ryan Verrydt
The National Football League or as some like to call it the “No Fun League” has long been a more popular pastime than the Canadian Football League, even in many cities north of the border.
The 101st Grey Cup is this Sunday and, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why people would rather watch Sunday Night Football; it’s like watching paint dry.
Ignoring for the moment all of the NFL’s crackdowns on celebrations and, even more ridiculously, the notion that a team’s touchdown would be taken away for taunting opponents, the structure of an NFL game doesn’t lend itself to be very exciting.
First is the play clock. Teams in the NFL have, after each play, 40 seconds before they are required to run the next one.
This is an extraordinary amount of time. In contrast, players in the CFL have half that.
A study of four games by the Wall Street Journal concluded there is, on average, only eleven minutes of actual football being played in a 60 minute NFL game.
Second, one of the biggest reasons the NFL is so boring is the kick return game. A team punts the ball away, the defender signals a fair catch, the play is whistled dead and then there’s a break. That’s a lot of time spent watching a play where nothing happens.
Again the CFL has a drastically different approach. By enforcing a five yard rule, meaning that no player can be within five yards of the person catching the ball, it gives players room to make plays and, combined with other rules, eliminates players just letting the ball drop.
Last, a combination of smaller rules and field dimensions lend the CFL to being a more exciting sport.
The field in the CFL is ten yards longer and about 12 yards wider than the NFL.
The end zones are also double the size of NFL ones, creating a much larger playing surface.
Players in the CFL can be in motion when the play starts.
Along with the fact there are only three downs in the CFL, compared to the NFL’s four, teams are forced into passing in the CFL because they can’t run the ball for 3-4 yards at a time. Teams need to go for bigger passing plays.
Imagine for a minute a guy with the speed and skill of Calvin Johnson or DeSean Jackson running at full speed already when the ball is snapped.
The NFL has a few things going for it. It generates billions upon billions of dollars, has millions of fans and plays in a market that allows for 30-plus teams.
All of the money and people allow the NFL to attract top end talent, and that talent makes the NFL seem more entertaining.
As Jim Flannery put it in an article for bleacherreport.com, “the CFL is a superior sport played with inferior players”.
Instead of tuning into watch Sunday Night Football this week, flip over to TSN and watch something exciting.