Former NFL Players and NCAA Stand-Outs in the CFL
In the Canadian Football League there are currently many players that have either turned heads in the National Football League or at the collegiate level in America.
This list highlights a number of former NFL and National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes who play football professionally in the Canadian Football League.
Before his NFL experience began, Henry Burris, 34, was already an established CFL star with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In 2001, Burris signed with the Green Bay Packers and eventually inked a deal with the Chicago Bears, eventually starting a nationally-televised game Monday night in which ‘Smilin’ Hank’ threw up four interceptions to the opposing Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When Burris’ NFL career ended he came back to the CFL and started with the Roughriders. He eventually led the Calgary Stampeders to a victory in the 96th Grey Cup in 2008.
In 10 seasons in the CFL, Burris has started more than 150 regular season games, amassed more than 35,000 total yards, and scored nearly 250 touchdowns through the air and on the ground.
A truly versatile player, Joseph, 36, started four seasons at McNeese State University, attended training camp with the Washington Redskins as a tailback, and played safety for the Seattle Seahawks for four seasons.
After his NFL career ended, Joseph would become arguably one of the brightest stars in the short-lived history of the Ottawa Renegades. He was later selected first overall in the Renegades’ dispersal draft by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In two seasons with the Green and White, Joseph led his squad to its first Grey Cup victory in nearly 20 seasons while being named the 2007 CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.
After his short stopover in Saskatchewan, Joseph went on to play two seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, where he struggled to remain healthy and maintain his starting spot.
A NFL bust by all accounts, Middlebrooks, a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos, finished his NFL career with 31 games played, starting only one.
After three seasons with the Broncos followed by a brief stopover with the San Francisco 49ers, Middlebrooks has found a home in the defensive secondary of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In two seasons with the Blue Bombers, Middlebrooks has racked up 90 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
A four-year starter at quarterback for the University of Florida, Leak led the Gators to a victory in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.
With a tremendous list of school records garnered during his tenure at Florida, Leak is statistically one of best Gator quarterbacks of all time.
After going undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, Leak signed with the Chicago Bears. After a short stint with the Bears, Leak eventually wound up with the Montreal Alouettes.
Heading into the 2010 CFL season, Leak will be battling for the backup quarterback job behind future CFL Hall of Fame inductee Anthony Calvillo.
At Texas Tech, Harrell, 24, cemented his status as one of the most productive quarterbacks in NCAA history.
A three-year starter, Harrell is the proud owner of over 15,000 passing yards and 134 touchdowns through the air during his collegiate career.
After graduating as a three-time Academic All Big 12 First Team honouree, Harrell was surprisingly bypassed in the 2009 NFL Draft.
After a brief stint with the Cleveland Browns, Harrell was signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a reserve backup signal caller.
During his rookie campaign in the CFL Harrell alternated between the third and fourth quarterback spot on the Roughriders and is now poised to challenge University of Montana alum Cole Bergquist for the backup quarterback slot on the Roughriders roster.
Before Kenton Keith, 29, left the Saskatchewan Roughriders to play for the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, he was widely considered the best running back in the CFL.
In four seasons with the Roughriders Keith amassed nearly 5000 combined rushing and receiving yards while finding his way into the end-zone 28 times.
During his tenure with the Green and White, Keith failed to average less than six yards per carry while carrying the load for a lowly Roughriders from 2003 to 2006.
In his lone season in the NFL Keith served as a back-up to Joseph Addai, but impressed many in limited action; carrying the ball for over 500 yards and three touchdowns.
After a surprising “one and done” tour of the NFL Keith returned to Canada to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
In 2009, Keith will likely return to previous form as the upstart Tiger-Cats look to build off of an impressive second place finish in the East Division.
Juran Bolden, 35, is for all intents and purposes a professional football journeyman.
Since his career began with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1995 Bolden has spent time with the Atlanta Falcons (for whom Bolden was selected by in the 1996 NFL Draft), the Green Bay Packers, the Carolina Panthers, the Kansas City Chiefs, another stint with the Blue Bombers, another stint with the Falcons, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In his 11 seasons in the NFL Bolden started over 28 games and racked up 10 interceptions.
Since 2007, Bolden has been playing with the Blue Bombers once again and now looks to finish his career with the team that he began with.