CFL and Canadian QBs don't seem to mix

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:42 AM ET

All they want is a chance, but rarely has it been there.

Rarely has there been any genuine opportunity for a Canadian quarterback in the Canadian Football League.

Oh never mind the Russ Jackson story. Thats all but ancient history now. The league that mandates that Canadians play at just about every position does almost nothing to help the home brew quarterback. There hasnt been another Russ Jackson, may never be another one, partly because he was a once-in-a-lifetime athlete and partly because CFL circumstances dictate a certain built-in bias against the Canadian QB.

Michael Faulds and Danny Brannagan are the two leading passers in the history of university football in this country: Both were passed over in their CFL draft year. So were Erik Glavic, the Hec Crighton Award winner and Justin Dunk, the most excited and exciting quarterback in CIS football.

Yet, almost in the form of an apology this year, all four were invited to this weekends CFL Evaluation Camp for draft eligible players. All four were invited even though none of them are draft eligible. Three were healthy enough to show up. And one, Glavic, is all but certain to end up at a training camp of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats come June.

This in comparison, to only five being invited to the combine over the past nine years.

If Im not a person who gives a Canadian kid an opportunity, who will? said Marcel Bellefeuille, one of two Canadian head coaches in the league. I do believe we have a lot of great talent in this country, maybe its the Olympic fever still running through me. Sometimes all these players need is an opportunity.

All Ive ever wanted is a chance to compete, said Dunk, the University of Guelph star. In his draft year, one year ago, the B.C. Lions and the Argos worked him out. Not as a quarterback but as a receiver.

I just want to play in the CFL, he said. Ive watched it all my life. Ive grown up around it.

It would be nice to play quarterback, but I want to play in the league.

Dunk is honest enough, realistic enough, maybe even determined enough to understand how much the odds are against him. He wasnt drafted. He wasnt looked at in the only position he has ever played. He may have been nothing more than a required arm at yesterdays workouts at University of Toronto, but hes a competitor, so there is this small part of him that believes if scouts are watching, he wants to give them something to watch.

Sure it goes through your mind that this might not be the legitimate chance you want, but youre still here, Dunk said. You still have this chance to impress them.

John Hufnagel doesnt look at the quarterback position in terms of nationality. The coach of the Calgary Stampeders sternly believes the quarterback decision in the CFL may be the only one where nationality doesnt, in fact, matter.

Coaches are making a decision on ability, not nationality. Nationality, really, has nothing to do with it.

That is the truth and also the problem. When you pick a Canadian running back, linebacker, or lineman to any CFL team, they are competing for jobs on a mandated roster against other Canadians. The Canuck quarterback is competing only against Americans. And even though some have advocated developing home-grown quarterbacks through roster incentive programs, none actually exist in the league that refers to Canadians as non-imports. Over the years, there has been the odd Canadian starter from Gerry Dattilio to Luc Tousignant to Greg Vavra to Larry Jusdanis. Just no one with any staying power.

I dont think its the CFLs responsibility to develop Canadian quarterbacks, said Jusdanis, a Canadian who had a cup of coffee as a CFL starter at QB. Im am an advocate for Canadian quarterbacks but I dont think you can create a rule that says you have to have a Canadian quarterback on the roster because right now, there isnt eight good ones to go to camp with.

Glavic hopes, after going undrafted, that he is one of the good ones.

I sort of gave up on my CFL dream, said Glavic, talking about the past. History might say they dont (give you a real look) but Im not here to judge that. Im here to show what I can do. Im not worried about being the next one. Im just glad to get an opportunity.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca


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