Best NFL Players Who also Played in the CFL

Many footballers who left the NFL to find green pastures in the CFL did so to revive their dying careers. However, a few of these players had impressive stints with their new teams in Canada.

In fact, some of the players did so well in the CFL that they left as legends. That said, this list outlines ten of the best footballers to have played in both Canada and the US regardless of which league they played in first.

Brandon Browner

Born in Los Angeles, Brandon is one of only five NFL players to have won the Super Bowl consecutively. He did it in 2013 with the Seattle Seahawks and in 2014 while playing for the New England Patriots.

Before he was an NFL player, however, the cornerback played for the Calgary Stampeders in Canada. He was one of the best CBs in CFL so much that he qualified for the CFL All-Star team thrice.

He also won the Stanley Cup Championship in 2008, just three years before he signed for the Seahawks. Unfortunately, Brandon’s post-NFL career has been tragic to say the least. He’s currently serving 8 years in prison for attempted murder.

O.J. Brigance

Brigance kick started his football career in the CFL with the BC Lions in 1991 where he played for three seasons. As a linebacker, he performed relatively decently and made it to the CFL West All-Star in 1993.

He joined the Baltimore Stallions one year later but left for the Miami Dolphins in 1996. Then he made a one-year stint in Baltimore for the Ravens in 2000 and won the Super Bowl. After that, he played for St. Louis before retiring in New England.

Mike Vanderjagt

Most NFL fans probably remember that day in 2002 when Peyton Manning called his fellow Indianapolis Colts’ teammate an “idiot kicker.” It’s something significant because being an idiotic kicker is far from what Mike ended up being.

Before he joined the Colts, though, Mike played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It was his first Pro-team. And although he didn’t have a remarkable career in Regina, he made a decent stint in Toronto before becoming a legend in Indiana.

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Fred Biletnikoff

Prior to the Internet and thus before you could visit a site like Betting Eagle to learn about sports betting in the US, punters loved to wager on games in which Fred played. Of course, Las Vegas and a few more cities were the only places that allowed betting back then.

Nonetheless, Fred was a huge football name in the days of the American Football League. He first joined the NFL in 1965 to play for the Oakland Raiders. Lucky for them,

not only was he a Raider his entire NFL career but he also helped them win Super Bowl X1 as the game’s MVP.

He was a four-time Pro Bowl player, a first-team All-Pro in 1972 and ultimate joined the Hall of Famer. Surprisingly, the Raiders relieved him in 1978 believing he had reached the end of his career.

Fred remained undrafted in 1979 but joined the Montreal Alouettes for the 1980-81 season. He only played the solo season for them but caught the second most passes as a WR.

Mervyn Fernandez

Although an American by birth, Fernandez had a special place for BC Lions—his first professional team. The 60-year-old signed for the Lions in 1982 and played for them as a wide receiver for four years.

In 1987, Fernandez joined the Los Angeles Raiders where he played for five years. He had a legendary career in LA, making 209 catches for a top-10 record, and 3,764 receiving yards to place him 8th on the all-time list.

After leaving LA in 1992, Fernandez remained unsigned in 1993 but went back to the Lions for a one-last-dance attempt. While 1994 was his final year as a footballer, he’s since then been voted into the CFL Hall of Fame and ranked amongst the best 50 players to have graced the league.

Jeff Garcia

Similar to Fernandez, Garcia is a California-native who launched his football career in the CFL before turning into a great player in the NFL. He played for the Calgary Stampeders between 1994 and 1998 before flying back to his home state to join the San Francisco 49ers.

Although he stayed in Francisco for four years (1999-2003), he struggled to find long-term deals for the rest of his NFL career. He retired in Houston in 2011, having made it to the Pro-Bowl four times and the West Division All-Star team four times.

Garcia also holds the record for the longest touchdown pass at 99 yards—a record he holds with former wide receiver Andre Davis.

Joe Horn

Horn is a befitting description of the American Dream. After failing to find a team after college, he took a job in a local restaurant. Things got rough and was down to his last $6 when he decided to buy a workout video tape made by NFL legend Jerry Rice.

He imitated Rice’s moves and recorded them on a tape he sent to multiple teams in the NFL and the CFL. Guess which team signed him first? The Baltimore Stallions—a former CFL team that no longer exists.

Horn only made it to the Stallion’s practice squad, though. He had two more stints with the Shreveport Pirates and the Memphis Mad Dogs in 1995, both former CFL franchises no longer in business.

His breakthrough came in 1996 after he signed for the Kansas City Chiefs. But even then, he mostly featured as a reserve WR. In 2000, Horn joined the New Orleans Saints and performed splendidly—he finished 7th, 8th and 9th for receptions, yards and touchdowns in his first season.

He went on to make it to the Pro Bowl four out of seven times and setting three franchise records: single year receiving yards and touchdowns and career receiving touchdowns.

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