Best NFL Players That Played In The CFL

By Paul Eide

This is a list of the best NFL players that played in the CFL and actually made a positive impact.

This list of the best NFL players that played in the CFL does not include Vince Young who had a brief tryout.

Here are the best NFL players that played in the CFL:

O.J. Brigance

Beginning his pro career as a linebacker in the CFL with the BC Lions in 1991, Brigance played three seasons and 54 games. His best season came in 1993, when he recorded 20 sacks and was a CFL West All-Star. Brigance then played for the Baltimore Stallions for two seasons, becoming a CFL All-Star in 1995, recording seven sacks and helping his team win the Grey Cup. In 1996, Brigance was signed by the Miami Dolphins and was twice voted a team captain.

The next year, he was signed by the Baltimore Ravens. Brigance was a key contributor to the Ravens’ championship-winning team as he finished second on the team with 25 special teams tackles and led the team with 10 special teams tackles in the post-season (including the first tackle of Super Bowl XXXV). He played for St. Louis Rams in 2001 and 2002, and a final game with the New England Patriots before retiring.

He is one of several players to have won both a CFL and NFL championship, and the only player in the history of both leagues to win those championships for the same city.

Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner played four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders where he was a three-time CFL All-Star and won a Grey Cup championship in 2008 before signing with the Seattle Seahawks before the 2011 season. Browner won a Super Bowl with Seattle in 2013 and another in 2014 with New England. He became the 5th player in NFL history to win consecutive Super Bowls with different teams.

Mervyn Fernandez

Swervin Mervyn started and ended his professional football career in the CFL. From 1982 to 1986, Fernandez caught 399 balls for 6,690 yards and 39 TDs, including a career high 17 TDs in 1984 and won the Grey Cup in 1985. In 1986 Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders came calling. He spent six years with the Raiders, played in 86 games, and amassed 209 catches for 3,764 yards and 19 touchdowns. He returned in 1994 to the BC Lions for part of the season.

Jeff Garcia

In four seasons as starting QB for the Calgary Stampeders, Garcia was a 4x West Division All-Star. He also won a Grey Cup and was named MVP of the game. He was a 4x Pro Bowler in the NFL and led the NFC in passing yards in 2000. In 15 seasons between the CFL and NFL, Garcia threw for 41,979 and 272 TDs.

Fred Biletnikoff

Fred Biletnikoff played 14 seasons in the AFL and NFL with Oakland from 1965 to 1978. He recorded 589 catches for 8974 yards and is a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Montreal lured Biletnikoff out of retirement in 1980. At age 37, Biletnikoff still turned in a solid season with 38 catches (second best on the Alouettes and eighth in the East Division)  for 440 yards and 4 TDs.

Mike Vanderjagt

The most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL started, and ended, his career in the CFL. Named an NFL All-Pro in 2003, he won the Grey Cup in back-to-back seasons in ’96 and ’97 and was a combined 9 or 9 in those championship games. He is also the most accurate field goal kicker in the history of the CFL.

Andre Rison

Andre Rison is the original “Dirty Bird.” In 10 NFL seasons, he accumulated 743 receptions for 10,205 yards and 84 touchdowns. “Bad Moon” was the first player to win a Super Bowl and a Grey Cup.

Cameron Wake

In 2007, Cameron Wake won the CFL Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards by leading the league with 16 sacks. He topped that performance in his second season with 23 sacks, which is when NFL teams started calling. In 10 seasons with the Dolphins, and one with Tennessee before getting injured Wake accumulated 100.5 sacks. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls (four at defensive end, one at outside linebacker), and was a four-time first or second-team All-Pro.

Joe Horn

Joe Horn is THE American dream. Down to his final $6, Horn spent $3.99 on a Jerry Rice video from a local Blockbuster and made a highlight video of himself working out and sent the tape to professional teams North America. One response Horn received was from the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL. In one year, 1,414 yards on 71 catches and scored five TDs. He retired as Saints career leader in TDs.

Warren Moon

Warren Moon is probably the best NFL player to play in the CFL. In six CFL seasons, Warren Moon threw for 21,166 yards and 144 TDs and won five consecutive championships as QB for the Edmonton Eskimos. In 23 pro seasons between the NFL and CFL, Moon threw for 70,553 yards and 435 TDs. #INSANE

Joe Kapp

Kapp made the jump from CFL to NFL thanks to 4x Grey Cup winning head coach (and arguably best NFL coach to never win a Super Bowl) Bud Grant. Grant was hired by the Minnesota Vikings and it was Grant who lured Kapp to the NFL. Kapp is  the only quarterback to appear in a Rose Bowl, a Grey Cup and a Super Bowl. In nine CFL seasons, Kapp threw for 22,000+ yards and 136 touchdowns, won the 1964 Grey Cup and earned a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. As Vikings QB he led them to the 1969 Super Bowl.

Doug Flutie

In eight seasons in the CFL, he passed for 41,355 yards (including more than 6,000 yards in a season twice) and 270 touchdowns with a 61.3 completion percentage (not to mention 4,660 rushing yards and 66 rushing touchdowns) while earning six all-star nominations, three Grey Cup MVP awards and countless records. His final NFL stats included 14,715 passing yards and 86 touchdowns along with 1,634 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns via running.

Joe Theismann

Theismann spent three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. With 6,000+ passing yards and 40 touchdowns over that time, he made two CFL all-star teams. In 1974, he made the move to the NFL, where he would play 12 seasons with the Redskins and take them to a pair of Super Bowls. Theismann threw for 25,000+ yards and 160 touchdowns with the Skins and earned league MVP honors in 1983.

Stefan Logan

Logan came out of the University of South Dakota and in his first year in the CFL and signed with the BC Lions of the for the 2008 CFL season. He rushed 122 times for 889 yards, and made 52 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns. He joined the Steelers in 2009 and set a franchise record for single-season return yards. in 2010 as a member of the Detroit Lions he was selected to Pro Bowl. Logan returned to the BC Lions in 2013 where he played for two seasons. He then signed with the Montreal Alouettes where he stayed until partway through the 2019 season when he moved to the Ottawa REDBLACKS mainly as a returner and upped his CFL career return yards to 11,970. Logan moved into 2nd place in the CFL record books for career kickoff return yards.

Read the original article published in i80 Sports Blog by Paul Eide

I’ve been a freelance journalist since 2000 and have had my work published via AskMen, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Busted Coverage, and Autotrader. I’ve done stand-up comedy. I’m a dad, youth soccer coach, and team statistician for the oldest indoor football team in the world, the Omaha Beef. I own a design agency in Omaha, NE called little guy design. I’ve married six couples in 10 years and my Marriage to Still Married ratio is 6:6. I always say, it isn’t so much about the “love,” as it is the tasteless jokes that became vows. I started the I-80 Sports Blog to have all the work I’ve published located in one place and to write about things I want to write about. I don’t take anything too seriously and it is a real time saver.
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