Onside Punt Returned for Touchdown When Player Doesn't Know CFL Rules

Dan Carson@@DrCarson73Trending Lead WriterAugust 4, 2015


Canadian football is weird.

It's just little differences, mostly, that separate it from its American counterpart. The hashmarks are wider apart. There are more guys on the field. Each end zone is approximately 15 acres, with sectors reserved for caribou and hooved game.

It's these little things that make an American visitor to the sport feel as though they could take the field with no prior explanation and just figure things out as they go along. "You run that way. You hit people. No stiff-arms to the face or antlers. Got it."

But as A.J. Jefferson found out Monday night, certain key rule differences can leave the average American football player looking very silly indeed playing up north.

Jefferson, an American transplant playing his first year of CFL ball for the Toronto Argonauts, ripped a thunderous brain fart during Toronto's 34-18 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Monday night. 

Set back deep to field a punt, Jefferson let the ball bounce when he saw there was no opportunity for a safe return. He walked off after watching Tiger-Cats defensive back Brandon Stewart pounce on the ball, considering the play over.

This is not how Canadian football works, however, and Stewart jumped up and ran into the end zone for a perfectly legal touchdown.

Why does this count? What happened here?

The answer is "Canadian witchcraft," or rather, the CFL's keeping of an old rule once implemented in American football but since abandoned.

The Tiger-Cats lined up with several gunners behind the punter, making them eligible to recover and advance the ball should it fall into their hands on the play. 

Jefferson was unaware of this quirk in the CFL rulebook, allowing what was just the second onside punt return for a touchdown since 1999, according to Yahoo Sports' Andrew Bucholtz.

Walk it off, Jefferson. The CFL rulebook is dark and full of terrors—particularly in the kicking chapter.

So I guess we should consider ourselves about even, Canada. We beat up that freeloading Easy-Bake Oven you sent down here for handouts, and you tricked us at your own weird version of our game. We'll call it a wash.

Dan is on Twitter. They would've never  found HitchBOT if he made it to Baltimore.