(Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins)
Talk of Fame Network
This week our Talk of Fame guys wandered north of the border for the second installment of their series on pro football leagues and caught up with two of the Canadian Football League’s greatest players: CFL Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Darren Flutie and Miami Dolphins’ Pro Bowl pass rusher Cameron Wake.
Like many American refugees who flee to Canada, Wake got his start in the CFL only after it seemed his NFL dreams had been dashed.
“I felt like that was my last opportunity,’’ said Wake of moving to the CFL after several NFL rejections and two years out of football. “I felt if I didn’t make my mark there, there was no other option.’’
Wake arrived in 2007, and in two years posted 39 sacks in the pass-happy league. By the time he was done, more than half the NFL teams that had once rejected him were offering him contracts.
Perhaps to thaw out after two seasons with the B.C. Lions, Wake chose Miami, where he’s posted 63 sacks in six NFL seasons, including 15 in 2012. What he learned in Canada, he says, easily translated to the NFL.
“It wasn’t as big a transition as you’d expect,’’ Wake said of coming to Miami. “It’s more difficult to reach the QB in the CFL because of the rules. It’s a lot different in Canada, but getting to the quarterback is getting to the quarterback in any league.’’
The same is true for getting open. Just ask Doug Flutie’s brother, Darren. After a two-and-a-half year struggle to make a place for himself in the NFL, Flutie joined his Heisman Trophy winning brother in British Columbia for half a season in 1991 and caught 52 passes in eight games. That was the beginning of a CFL Hall-of-Fame career.
Twelve seasons later, Flutie had 972 catches for 14,359 yards and 76 touchdowns, numbers that still rank him fourth all-time in the CFL record books. More significantly, they left Flutie in the CFL Hall of Fame in 2007, the same year he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in CFL history.
“It’s a wide-open game on a bigger field with receivers moving forward (before the snap),’’ said Flutie of CFL football. “It’s all meant to give the advantage to the offense. The goal is to make it a more exciting brand of football, and I’d say. to a certain extent, it is.’’
What excited Flutie most was winning two Grey Cup championships. What did not was playing the CFL’s grueling 18-game schedule, something he cautions the NFL to avoid despite the constant talk of expanding the season.
“Eighteen games is tough!’’ Flutie admitted. “It’s a significant difference. I’d be shocked if the NFL goes to 18 games. If it does it’s about money. You can’t keep adding games to make (more) money. That’s a bad decision.’’
Along with a discussion of the CFL and the number of NFL players who arrived via Canada, Pro Football Hall-of-Fame voters Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge evaluate the likely upcoming 2016 Hall-of-Fame class, debate the news of the week (will “Deflategate’’ and the soap opera that is RG III’s life with the Washington Redskins never end?), and ask if talk of Eli Manning becoming the game’s highest-paid quarterback is bogus or not.
Our resident Dr. Data, Rick Gosselin, explains why the “hard knocks’’ have just begun for the Houston Texans for agreeing to appear on the HBO “Hardknocks’’ series, and he states the Hall of Fame case for long-forgotten former AFL all-star Ed Budde.
Rick also runs the two-minute drill, with Clark and Ron facing his firing squad of questions, and Hall-of-Fame voter Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic debates the boys on the Hall-of-Fame credentials of former Cardinals’ quarterback and league MVP Kurt Warner.
To hear that and more go to talkoffamenetwork.com, iTunes or download the Tunein app and click on the show’s logo. You can also find the Talk of Fame on nearly 100 radio stations around the country on Wednesday nights from 8-10 pm or weekend rebroadcasts in most markets.