CFL underestimated forever and always

The recent success of Cameron Wake in the NFL should come as no surprise to astute football fans.

The recent success of Cameron Wake in the NFL should come as no surprise to astute football fans.

About two months ago, I got into a debate with some guy named Brian Biggane about Wake’s prospects for success in the NFL. I went online to read some updates about Wake’s Miami Dolphin training camp and found this guy’s assessment of Wake as a former CFL star.

Biggane is a sports writer for the Palm Beach Post and he came to the conclusion that Wake was not a legitimate talent based upon his success in an inferior league that has produced little defensive talent of NFL caliber.

I e-mailed Biggane a reminder that legendary Dolphin safety Jake Scott played for the B.C. Lions before his career in Miami and stated that Biggane had a very limited knowledge of our league and its talent level.

He didn’t like my response to his column and fired back an e-mail in which he split hairs and reminded me that Jake Scott was a wide receiver for B.C. after Biggane had a consultation with a Lions PR guy. He also stated that he was well aware of Canada because he covered the Florida Panthers for his news service and had spent plenty of time up here as a hockey reporter. I ended my debate with him with a final reminder of guys like former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Benny Thompson who had a great career in New Orleans and former Alouette Tom Cousineau who had a good NFL career. Chuck Klingbeil was a Miami Dolphin after his career in Saskatchewan and there have been many more.

Anyhow, Biggane is fairly typical when it comes to an appraisal of the CFL, despite the fact that it is a league with very talented athletes and is underestimated by many observers, including its own fans.

Personally I am always happy when guys like Wake are vastly underestimated by the NFL fraternity. It was clear from day one that he was a gifted player with blazing speed and killer instincts. It was also clear to me that he would migrate to the lure of the NFL and would prove to be a future star in that league. This concept was not clear to many doubters, including the Miami coach.

There has always been a strong sense of arrogance about the vast difference in talent levels between the CFL and NFL. Personally I don’t believe that the gap is huge when it comes to the middle of the pack. Sure the top guys in the NFL are the best players in the world, but the best import CFL players and the upper echelon Canadian players are in the ballpark of their average talented NFL counterparts.

The NFL leans toward big men on a tiny field while we have smaller players on a giant field, so size does matter for different reasons. We need smaller speedy guys to cover our big field and bigger lanes. They need tanks in football uniforms.

Throw out the size factor and talent is talent. Cam Wake may play as a linebacker in the NFL but he is still a highly gifted football player who began his pro career in a very good football league. Too bad so many football ‘experts’ refuse to believe this fact.

Local freelance writer Jim Sutherland’s CFL column appears Tuesdays and Fridays in the Advocate. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com

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