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NFL, CFL used to meet in the preseason

Tiger-Cats' Cobourne runs with the ball against Alouettes' Williams during their CFL football game in Hamilton 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.

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21 Responses to “NFL, CFL used to meet in the preseason”
  1. 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?

  2. murtdurt says: Jun 23, 2012 5:25 PM

    Go stampeders! The rest of the league is junk tho

  3. rocketcrab says: Jun 23, 2012 5:25 PM

    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?

  4. cali49er707 says: Jun 23, 2012 5:44 PM

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

  5. juanquixote says: Jun 23, 2012 5:54 PM

    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.

  6. lumas101 says: Jun 23, 2012 5:54 PM

    Ugh, yeah like Bills fans really needed this piece of information added to our misery.

  7. colinsnooks says: Jun 23, 2012 6:47 PM

    @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.

  8. Herb Deluxe says: Jun 23, 2012 7:19 PM

    Was the field 100 yards or 110 yards? Three downs or four downs? How many rouges did the Ti-Cats have?

  9. mobdc202 says: Jun 23, 2012 7:22 PM

    Their championship team should play the NFL’s team with the worst record in the spring. Lol

  10. alonestartexan says: Jun 23, 2012 8:01 PM

    Cali,

    The NFL team would get their butts handed to them. Remember the Pro Bowl ? NFL players don’t want to get hurt for an exhibition…

  11. whatifisayno says: Jun 23, 2012 8:44 PM

    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.

  12. drunkenagitator says: Jun 23, 2012 9:18 PM

    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.

  13. jameslongstaffe says: Jun 23, 2012 9:36 PM

    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:)

  14. louisvillepride says: Jun 23, 2012 11:55 PM

    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.

  15. magicbucs says: Jun 24, 2012 12:03 AM

    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?

  16. rocketcrab says: Jun 24, 2012 12:06 AM

    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.

  17. theguywhotoldtimtebowtoshutthefup says: Jun 24, 2012 3:58 AM

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

  18. jbarr1 says: Jun 24, 2012 6:56 AM

    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.

  19. cdnjeff says: Jun 25, 2012 11:14 AM

    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 $$$…

  20. ike1973 says: Jun 25, 2012 12:05 PM

    I think it’s safe to say the tiger cats would still beat the bills today.

  21. hsteacher says: Jun 30, 2012 7:36 PM

    What rules did they play by? NFL or CFL?

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