Players like 18-tilt sked

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

There are plenty of arguments against adding two weeks to the NFL regular-season schedule, but no one seems to notice the CFL has played 18 games for the past 25 years with great success.

NFL owners are excited to add another two games for the expected revenue increase. The players -- and others who oppose the projected move -- seem to believe the extra games will be an injury risk, or hurt the playoff races.

The CFL went to an 18-game regular season in 1986 and the injury situations are about the same in Canada as they are in the U.S. Careers are not much shorter in the CFL than the NFL.

"When I came up here, I thought it was 18 chances to show the world what I could do," said Texas native Nik Lewis of the Calgary Stampeders. "I love playing 18 games. It's special to me."

Lewis said the difference between when he broke into the CFL (2004) and now is that U.S. high school players have longer seasons and are more prepared for the rigours of the pro game. Lewis said his younger brother played 16 high school games last year in Texas, while he had 14 when he finished.

The biggest difference between the two leagues is the off-season and training camp schedules. The NFL holds organized team activities during the off-season when CFL players are at home recharging the batteries.

And CFL training camp is a mere three weeks compared to the six long ones the NFL uses to get ready.

There is also the argument out there that a longer season would kill the playoff chase.

"With 16 games, every game is important and therefore the fans are very into it, the stadiums are packed because they know if their team loses, it pushes them further and further away from making the playoffs," said Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. "I think if you go to 18, each game kind of loses a little bit of its significance."

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," said Stampeders defensive tackle De-Vone Claybrooks, who played five years in the NFL. "If you are 8-8 or 9-9, you are still going to be in the hunt for the playoffs. It should be more entertaining because there will be more rivalry games."

Opening drive

The last time the Montreal Alouettes went without Anthony Calvillo as the starting QB for a meaningful game, they flamed out of the 2007 playoffs. The veteran pivot ruled himself out of Friday's meeting with the B.C. Lions, likely giving Chris Leak his first CFL start ... There were so many strange things happening Friday night in Vancouver that even referee Glen Johnson suffered a leg injury and couldn't finish. In the same game, Lions R Darius Passmore cut his throat on a field-level sign and Stamps R Romby Bryant landed awkwardly on his back and neck ... Stamps QB Henry Burris needs two yards (likely one pass) to surpass Dieter Brock and get into the CFL's all-time top-10 in passing yards.

Endzone toss

Two long losing streaks no one ever thought Wally Buono's name would be attached to: Seven straight and six straight at home. The Lions are now 0-8 in the rivalry against the Stamps in the John Hufnagel coaching era that began in 2008 ... Example of why the Lions are struggling: Receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux scored a late TD to cut into a 28-point deficit with just minutes left, but he pointed at Stampeders defenders as he went into the endzone. No class.

Extra points

After this week, six-year veterans have their salaries guaranteed, which prompted a couple of moves by the Montreal Alouettes. The defending champs cut DB Stanford Samuels and R O.J. Santiago ... The Ticats have added former Lions DT Jeremy Gibbs.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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