Four Players That Have Successfully Gone from the CFL to the NFL

The Canadian Football League, or CFL, is the second-biggest professional football league in the world. While the NFL gets most of the headlines, draws the most wagers on NFL betting sites, and has the biggest celebrity players, the CFL has its fair share of incredibly talented players that, for whatever reason, haven’t received an opportunity at the NFL level.

While the CFL doesn’t have as much acclaim and recognition on sports betting sites and media deals, many players have used the CFL as a launching point for NFL careers. They have balled out at the CFL level, shown talent evaluators that they have what it takes, and leveraged that success to start massive NFL careers. You’ll find some of these players on Pro Bowl squads and Super Bowl victory parades. Let’s look at four players that have successfully gone from the CFL to the NFL.


Brandon Browner


The Seattle Seahawks’ “legion of boom” is one of the iconic defenses in NFL history, famed for its imposing secondary. A big part of that secondary was cornerback Brandon Browner, who shut down the other side of the field opposite Richard Sherman. But this big 6’4 corner almost never got his NFL chance. He was undrafted out of Oregon State in 2005. So Browner took his talents to Calgary, becoming a quick star with the Stampeders. Finally, in 2011, he got his NFL chance with the Seahawks and instantly became a Pro Bowler. He won two Super Bowls as well.


Cameron Wake


One of the most famous modern CFL to NFL success stories is that of Cameron Wake. Wake played at Penn State but didn’t flash his unique pass-rushing talents and didn’t get drafted to the NFL. He took two years off of football before signing with the BC Lions, and immediately led the league in sacks and won both Defensive Player and Rookie of the Year. In 2009, he got the chance to sign with the Miami Dolphins and never looked back. This athletic marvel ended up getting more than 100 sacks, making four All-Pro teams, and blossoming into one of the best edge rushers of the 2010s.


Joe Theismann


Joe Theimann had a legendary career at Notre Dame in college but only got picked in the fourth round in 1971. He decided it would be better for his career to start at QB in Canada, so he joined the Toronto Argonauts. He was a two-time all-star in Toronto and led the Argos to a Grey Cup appearance before joining the Washington Redskins in 1974. He became the full-time starter by 1978 and ended up having a legendary career that included a Super Bowl and an MVP. His career ended due to a badly broken leg, but his mark on the league was significant.


Warren Moon


Warren Moon was a star quarterback at the University of Washington but went undrafted in 1978 despite his considerable talent. Moon then headed to Edmonton and would go on a legendary run for the Edmonton Elk. In six years, he won the Grey Cup five times, won CFL MVP, and won the Grey Cup MVP twice. This was the springboard he needed to show the NFL he was the real deal. He signed with the Houston Oilers and went on a long run that included nine Pro Bowls and two seasons where he led the league in passing yards. He is the only person that has been enshrined in both the NFL and CFL Hall of Fame.

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