The CFL hopes to further increase support of the sport, according to Rob Assimakopoulos, the CFL's Senior VP for Marketing, who said, "This is great news for CFL fans living in the United States, a group that includes some of our most passionate and dedicated fans, and it promises to expose our brand of football to a broad, new audience."
A total of 14 games will appear on NFL Network; one on each of the remaining Saturdays in July, and after an August hiatus to accommodate the NFL Pre-season, every Friday until December. The games will still be produced by TSN, Canada's most prominent sports network.
For those who would like to begin following the action, but are unaware of the differences between the two versions of the sport, here are a few of the primary aspects of the CFL which deviate from those of its American counterpart:
Field Size: The Canadian field of play is 110 yards in length, has a width of 65 yards, and endzones which are 20 yards deep. These dimensions make American fields, which measure 100 X 53⅓ X 10, look small by comparison. The wide open spaces afford ample room for making big plays on offense, and thus changes the whole dynamic of play.
Number of Players: In Canada, 12 players line up on either side of the ball, as opposed to the 11 to which we are accustomed. The same number of players are required at the line at the start of each play, so in the CFL, the extra man is a back.
Number of Downs: In a CFL match, there are only three downs available per possession, though a first down is still achieved by gaining ten yards.
Line of Scrimmage: There is no "no-mans-land" in American football, other than the length of the ball. Canadian rules dictate a distance of one yard separate the opposing teams' lines.
Backfield Motion: Whereas only one player on an American team is allowed pre-snap motion, every player in the offensive backfield, with the exception of the Quarterback, is allowed unlimited movement behind the line of scrimmage.
Open Field Kicking: CFL rules allow for a player that has advanced the ball past the line of scrimmage to attempt a drop-kick from anywhere on the field, whereas the same action in the US would draw a penalty. Kicks that travel through the endzone without traveling through the uprights yield one point. (Called a Rouge, or Single)
League Size: At present, the CFL consists of a total of only eight teams:
- BC Lions
- Edmonton Eskimos
- Calgary Stampeders
- Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Toronto Argonauts
- Montreal Alouettes
Perfect Timing: I know that an 8 month NFL offseason is grueling for many insatiable football fans such as myself, so when I heard that the CFL kicks off in July, I was pretty pleased. I admittedly have never seen more than snippets of a CFL game, but it looks close enough to constitute a reasonable facsimile, so, it's about time for some football, eh?