NFL, CFL used to meet in the preseason

Reuters

As the Canadian Football League approaches its annual Canada Day launch to its regular season, let’s fill some space on a slow (relatively speaking) Saturday and look back in time at a series of preseason games once played between teams from the NFL and CFL.

While recently perusing the Official 2011 NFL Record & Fact Book (the 2012 version should be coming out soon, and like a total dork I actually look forward to getting it), I noticed at page 531 a full list of the league’s International Games.

From August 1950 through August 1961, teams from the NFL and CFL played six times during the NFL preseason, in Canada.  (For the Canadian teams, the games were exhibitions played during the CFL regular season.)

It started in 1950, when the Giants beat the Rough Riders in Ottawa, 27-6.  The following year, the Giants thumped the same team in the same town, 41-18.

The series resumed eight years later, when the Chicago Cardinals clobbered the Argonauts, 55-26, in Toronto.  In 1960, the Steelers slammed the Argonauts in Toronto, 43-16.

The exercise ended the following year, with a pair of contests played three days apart.  On August 2 in Toronto, the Cardinals (which had since moved to St. Louis) cold-cocked the Argonauts, 36-7.  On August 5, the Bears bested the Alouettes in Montreal, 34-16.

But the Canadians saved a little face three days after that.  In the one and only AFL-CFL game, the Tiger-Cats took apart the Buffalo Bills in Hamilton, 38-21.

In the past 51 years, no NFL team (or AFL, during the league’s remaining years of existence) has ever again played a CFL team, in Canada or elsewhere.  It’s unlikely that it will ever happen again.  Still, every time you hear the name “Tiger-Cats” remember that they own the bragging rights over the Bills and, in turn, the league that absorbed the Buffalo franchise in 1970.

21 responses to “NFL, CFL used to meet in the preseason

  1. Does anyone else remember when the NFL Champions each year would play an exhibition the following pre-season game against a team of College All-Stars?

  2. Never knew that, interesting. Who’s rules did they use, since the CFL field is 110 yards long and is wider than the NFL field?

  3. i would love to see the @$* whoopin’s that would ensue if these two leagues teams played eachother!!

  4. rocketcrab has a point, it would be interesting to know which set of rules they used. Canadian football not only has a bigger field, they only have three downs, there are 12 players on the field and receivers can move toward the line of scrimmage before the snap. Those are just a few of the many rule differences. I’m going to assume since the games were played in Canada that they used CFL rules.

  5. @juanquixote

    I read some stuff about these games a few years ago. They used hybrid rules, playing Canadian rules one half and American rules the other half (except for the field size, which obviously couldn’t be switched).

    Apparently in all of the games, there were a lot of penalties called on each team in the half that they were playing the other leagues rules. So the first half would be NFL rules, and the Canadian team would be getting tons of formation penalties etc, only for the reverse to happen in the second half. Sounds like it would of been confusing to be in the stands watching one of these games, and probably frustrating for the players on both teams.

  6. realitypolice says:
    Jun 23, 2012 5:21 PM
    Does anyone else remember when the NFL Champions each year would play an exhibition the following pre-season game against a team of College All-Stars?

    That game was last played in 1976. The series was ended primarily for insurance reasons.

  7. If I remember correctly, the final college all-star exhibition game ended in a gigantic thunderstorm when the fans overtook the field in a near-riot situation.

  8. It’s not a competition between the NFL & CFL, when you love football it doesn’t matter. Some of the best players I have ever seen graced the Canadian field. & I love the history:)

  9. Was it the College All-Stars that the NFL played? I remember Pops telling me when I was a kid that the National Champion played against a NFL team in the pre-season.

  10. It can be a pre-season game for the nfl team instead of naming it an exhibition. That way nfl players won’t bitch about injuries and getting paid more.

    Also why the hell does the cfl have to change up all rules and the field. Some of the rules could be good for the nfl …but the field, Is it in yards or meters?

  11. It’s not a competition between the NFL & CFL, when you love football it doesn’t matter. Some of the best players I have ever seen graced the Canadian field. & I love the history:)

    Agreed 100%. I recall the headline in the Baltimore Sun in the days leading up to the Baltimore CFL Colts opener that read, “Are you ready for fast-break football?” The CFL game is fast and exciting. The NFL is almost plodding in comparison.

  12. This is more proof that the Bills should move to Toronto & join the CFL.

  13. Seems almost unbelievable that the CFL was at least a Semi-threat to the NFL 30 or so years ago. Bruce Clark was drafted by the Pack and signed with Toronto ( I think) and Tom Cousineau was drafted by Buffalo and signed with Montreal. Rocket Ismail also signed with Toronto.

  14. The CFL had more money and paid the players much more up until the end of the 70’s. They also got most of them part time jobs to supplement their income. Some of the others to do this was Cookie Gilchrist, Joe Theismann,
    Joe Kapp, Vince Ferragamo and Ed George. Back then it was all about the $$$…

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