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Monday, August 06, 2007

The Lions Should Really Play in the Canadian Football League

Over the weekend I found myself watching the Calgary Stampeders take on the Edmonton Eskimos in a Canadian Football League (CFL) game. I don't normally watch the CFL but I was in a bad way for a football fix - like a straight guy in prison who needs to ejaculate inside another human being and just reaches the point where he isn't going to let a little thing like gender stop him from accomplishing his goal. After a few minutes of watching I realized that there are a number of things about the way the Canadian game is played that would really be complementary to the Lions style of play, like:

1) You can score points by punting - In the CFL, teams are awarded one point when the result of a punt is a touchback. The Lions punting game is already one of its most potent weapons. Punter Nick Harris ranked fourth in the league in net distance last year, changing field position like a motherfucker. If he could score on touchbacks he'd be the first Lion taken in most fantasy drafts.

2) The goalpost is at the front of the endzone - This is one of the dumbest things about the CFL. My suspicion is that the CFL has preserved this antiquated goalpost positioning because their endzones are enormous and if they wanted the goalpost to be out of play, extra points would become 35 yard chip shots. The goalpost in front of the endzone would benefit the Lions because while aging kicker Jason Hanson is still accurate within 45 yards, his leg strength has declined considerably and he has trouble with the long ones. Moving the goalpost to the front of the endzone would make Hanson even more dangerous than he was 10 years ago.

3) Most offensive sets include four wide receivers - In the CFL, you are allowed to have 12 men on the field (my understanding is that the Montreal Alouettes are home of L'Homme Treizieme), there are only 3 downs, and the field is longer and wider than in real football. All of these changes mean that you have more players on the field, fewer chances to convert first downs, and more room in which to run routes. As a result, teams routinely start four wide receivers, who are allowed to be moving toward the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. The Lions love drafting wide receivers, having taken one in the first round four out of the last five years. If we can't get rid of Matt Millen we might as well join a league that has rules that will be conducive to his drafting philosophy.

4) The CFL only has eight teams and six of them get to go to the playoffs every year- The Lions have never been to a Superbowl, and yet they won three world championships in the 1950s. What gives? It turns out that in 1957, the last year that the Lions won the NFL Championship, there were only 12 teams in the league. Today there are 32 teams. That is an awful lot of competition for a team as shitty as the Lions that most years isn't better than two or three other teams. Some fish are meant for oceans, some for lakes, and some for smaller bodies of water. The Lions just happen to be a pond fish in the wrong place.

5) CFL teams don't get to participate in the NFL Draft - I'm not sure how CFL teams acquire their players but I do know that they don't get to select players in the NFL Draft. The Lions, on the other hand, do and this would prove to be a huge competitive advantage it the Lions joined the CFL but continued their association with the NFL Draft, which I would recommend. In reality, most players that the Lions select in the draft wind up in the CFL anyway. This would just hasten the process and weed out a lot of undesirables that NFL teams are better off rid of. Just think of what a better place the NFL would be today if bums like Aaron Gibson, Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams had never been in the league? And yet these guys probably would have made above average CFL players (except for Gibson, who holds the distinction of being the only player ever deemed too fat to play offensive line for the Lions).

6) Detroit could get a new NFL team - With the Lions safely out of the picture, the NFL could award the city of Detroit an expansion team and a fresh start. I always thought it was unfair when expansion teams got to draft players off of other teams but the Lions didn't. And we don't want a team from another city. Don't get me wrong, I think it would totally rule if Detroit stole the Browns and then won a Superbowl like Baltimore did. Oh man, Cleveland fans would be so burned again and Detroit would have a Superbowl. The thing is, Detroit fans don't want someone else's garbage so soon after finally getting rid of our own. That's cool that it worked out in Baltimore but I don't have a whole lot of confidence that the transition would go quite as smoothly for Detroit.

From what I could tell the CFL is pretty lame, which means that it compares favorably to televised baseball. During these long summer months when there isn't much going on, I think Detroit fans would embrace a Detroit-based CFL team. And after seven years of constant losing, I know I could really get behind a run at the Grey Cup.


  • At 8:05 PM, Blogger the butler said…

    I wonder if Canadians play fantasy football based on the NFL or the CFL...

    ...and that might be a dumb question?

    (funny- spell check marked "CFL" as a misspelled word, but not "NFL")

  • At 11:01 AM, Blogger The Battleship said…

    Apparently they do have fantasy CFL:

    John Kitna would have to be the #1 overall pick in the CFL, right?


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