Brandon Browner, Cameron Wake meet in match up of CFL success stories


While playing in the frigid temperatures of the Canadian Football League, the thought of becoming NFL stars had to have been the farthest thing from the minds of Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner.

Both Wake and Browner had been largely overlooked as undrafted free agents coming out of college. Browner got a brief look from the Denver Broncos before heading north to play for the Calgary Stampeders. Wake was out of football for two years before getting a tryout with the B.C. Lions.

Their success in Canada led both to finally get a chance in the NFL and taking full advantage of the opportunities. Now both having become Pro Bowlers, the two will meet on the field for the first time since their days in the CFL Sunday as the Seahawks travel to Miami to play the Dolphins.

Wake is having arguably the most productive all-around season by a defensive end in the NFL this season. His 9.5 sacks is the best in the league by a 4-3 defensive end with 34 tackles and a forced fumble to go along with it.

Browner has three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 37 tackles this year for the Seahawks.

With the successes of Browner and Wake making the transition from the CFL, it’s only logical to wonder how many other players the NFL has missed on that are now playing in Canada. Both Browner and Wake feel there are many players in Canada also capable of making the jump to the NFL if given the opportunity.

“There are a lot of guys up there who could play the game, who could definitely make it down here, but a lot of guys aren’t getting the opportunity,” Wake said in a conference call Wednesday. “I’m just grateful and blessed that I was, and I had to make the most of it.”

According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, Browner knows there are other players that have the talent to play in the NFL that haven’t received that chance.

“Guys that played with us, and who know us personally, feel they can be here,” Browner said. “And I personally feel there’s a lot of guys up there that can play here.”

Maybe the success of Browner and Wake forces teams to take a closer look at some of the talent playing north of the border. With as competitive as scouting can be in the lead up to the draft and the large money thrown to free agents in the NFL, it might be possible for teams to find a bargain in an unexpected place.

8 responses to “Brandon Browner, Cameron Wake meet in match up of CFL success stories

  1. I’ve always wondered why more players don’t consider the CFL as their shot. For example, I remember Terrelle Pryor being offered a CFL contract when he was entering the NFL and thinking “maybe he would be smart to go somewhere he has a better chance to play,” after all, look at guys like Doug Flutie, Warren Moon, and Jeff Garcia and how they got their start up north.

  2. I am not sure about the frigid temperatures cliche part as most of the season is played from the start of July to the end of October with the only really cold temps are now in November for the playoffs. The Grey Cup final is next week in Toronto under a dome in Roger’s Center. Even Cameron Wake played in balmy Vancouver under a dome for most of his career.

    It is no suprise that CFL alumni have done well in the NFL. Some former CFLers are Bud Grant,Marv Levy,Joe Theismann,Joe Kapp,Jeff Garcia,Doug Flutie,Warren Moon and Mike Vanderjagt(best idiot kicker ever). There are some talented people who play up here that get over looked because the Canadian League is not considered to be high level football by NFL scouts.Hopefully that will change with the success of these two players.

  3. I think the CFL is best for judging players who have a role in the passing game (defense or offense), since it’s so pass heavy because teams have only 3 downs to get a first down, instead of 4 like in the NFL.

    Wake was viewed as an undersized 4-3 defensive end, hence the lack of interest by the NFL. However, by going to a pass-heavy league like the CFL, he was able to put his speed-rushing ability on display, and the Dolphins were intrigued by how easily Wake got past offensive tackles. The Dolphins brought Wake along slowly in the NFL, first by using him as a situational pass rusher, then they made him a 3-down player, and now he’s actually as good against the run as he is rushing the passer, which is why Miami’s defense is top-5 against the run.

    For Browner – he was viewed as a guy with incredible physical tools who needed time to develop since he’s best suited for press-man coverage but was frequently penalized. After spending a few years in the CFL demonstrating that he can shut down wide receivers without getting penalized was enough to draw interest from the Seahawks.

  4. Don’t forget multiple WR’s can fly to the line full speed as they snap the ball, making the NFL’s one man in motion seems a whole lot easier for Browner.

    As for Wake, he had a whole yard neutral zone where he could easily ‘fake’ out a slower O-Lineman. Hence why Miami slowly introduced him into the D.

    The Canadian game has so many weird nuances doesn’t it eh?

  5. The CFL can be a defensive line development league.. One of the unique things about it, is the defense must line up and give a 1 yard neutral zone before the snap of the ball.. So really these DE’s are actually starting 1 yard off line of scrimmage every time, as opposed to right over top of the ball.

  6. I have been a lifelong CFL/NFL fan, following both leagues very closely. Great to see the success stories, & there are many more than people recognize… As in life, not all people receive the same opportunity, & as we know, the window is small for all players. I just love to see how young players can find a home playing professional football & having fun:) In my experience, the biggest difference is in size or speed at their position, not always talent or intelligence. That can be enough for the “experts” to write them off. But that’s OK, there are enough good football players to go around, & I surmise that some players enjoy playing under the spotlight in the CFL, rather than getting bounced around the NFL.

  7. The CFL is a different game than the NFL. Much more wide open game and better than the NFL in many respects. But obviously the NFL has overall better talent.

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