Dave Naylor: Toronto Argonauts roll the cube with dangerous NFL-centric technique

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The Toronto Argonauts have gained the CFL offseason in terms of making headlines, particularly in terms of recruiting expertise as soon as extremely wanted within the Nationwide Soccer League.

It is a playbook that has been used over time with various levels of success within the CFL, and it has some fairly apparent execs and cons.

On the brilliant aspect, a as soon as extremely coveted NFL participant ought to have all of the instruments to make an influence within the CFL, given the extent of scrutiny gamers face when getting into that league.

The draw back is that these gamers could not keep within the NFL regardless of these instruments, which begs the query of why. It additionally raises the query of whether or not the reply to that query – whether or not it is accidents, lack of efficiency or issues off the sphere – will comply with them to Canada.

Traditionally, the Argonauts have tried this NFL-centric method extra typically than any CFL workforce, little doubt motivated partially by the perceived must make a splash in a aggressive market and maybe partially as a result of the previous NFL gamers are extra intrigued by the thought. to return to Toronto than to another CFL locations.

Typically it really works, however more often than not it does not.

A kind of instances it labored was in 2004, when Michael “Pinball” Clemons led the Argonauts to a Grey Cup victory as a head coach with a roster that included 4 former NFL Draft picks from first spherical to John Avery, R. Jay Soward, Bernard Williams and Andre Rison, former third spherical decide Jonathan Brown, and NFL veteran Robert Baker.

Clemons has lengthy championed second possibilities, and his function in soccer has allowed him to grant them. Within the case of these 2004 Argos, he made it work.

May anybody else have gained with this identical group of gamers? That is a good query to ask, given Clemons distinctive potential to get probably the most out of individuals. That is a part of what made him such an important head coach and why he could have been in a position to profit extra from a gaggle of former NFL gamers than another coach in CFL historical past.

Now he is operating the Argos as common supervisor, overseeing vice chairman of participant personnel John Murphy, somebody who has by no means shied away from attempting to recruit expertise from large names. (Murphy as soon as landed former NFL cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones in Winnipeg earlier than it turned clear that Jones thought he may terminate his CFL contract at any time.)

All of this helps clarify why Argo’s roster at the moment contains gamers like Shane Ray, a defensive lineman who was the twenty third general decide within the 2015 NFL Draft by Denver, the previous Tennessee first-round receiver. Kendall Wright, in addition to veteran NFL broad receiver Martavis Bryant, and defensive linemen Eli Harold and Kony Ealy, the latter having beforehand had three sacks in a Tremendous Bowl.

However the Argonauts swim upstream with this method.

One of the best CFL gamers aren’t guys who’ve exhausted their welcome to the NFL. These are gamers the NFL missed or gamers with NFL-level expertise whose bodily abilities higher match the Canadian recreation.

Discover a record of the very best CFL gamers from the previous 50 years and attempt to discover NFL veterans amongst them. There aren’t many, except for Doug Flutie (and Flutie is the exception to dozens of guidelines in skilled soccer).

Past him, the very best is likely to be former Buffalo Payments first spherical Perry Tuttle, who went to Winnipeg for six seasons, caught 321 passes, scored 41 touchdowns and helped the Blue Bombers win a Grey Cup in 1990. .

The story of the previous NFL participant coming to Canada who flops or has little influence is far more widespread. The newest instance is former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL first-round decide Johnny Manziel, a participant whose abilities appeared completely suited to the Canadian Soccer League, however whose demons weren’t.

Trent Richardson, a former Alabama star backer who was drafted third general by Cleveland in 2012, was within the CFL as lately as 2017. Marc Gastineau, Ricky Williams, Odessa Turner, Timm Rosenbach, Josh Freeman, Dexter Manley, and Cleo Lemon are all on the record of former NFL gamers who’ve had little to no CFL success.

Others, just like the late Lawrence Phillips, a former St. Louis Rams first-round backer, have been useful on the sphere and been a headache, which is why he lasted lower than two seasons within the Canada.

Why have former NFL gamers had such a troublesome expertise in Canada? Why does it virtually all the time appear that the extra time a participant has spent within the Nationwide Soccer League, the much less probably they’re to achieve Canada?

Listed here are some theories.

The primary is that given the amount of cash that has been invested in these gamers within the NFL, groups would not flip their backs on them with no good cause.

The opposite is that gamers who’ve made cash within the NFL and performed in entrance of big crowds and viewers simply aren’t motivated sufficient once they come into the CFL. This typically implies that they’ve underestimated the extent of expertise within the CFL and simply aren’t able to match it.
One of the best CFL gamers are historically these with little or no alternative within the NFL; gamers who arrive with a chip on their shoulders for not having had the chance to carry out on the NFL degree. The CFL turns into their second probability in an expert life and another strategy to stay a model of their goals.

Possibly this Argos group could make NFL technique work once more. Maybe the uncooked expertise of those gamers will shine and excel in Canadian sport because of Clemons’ organizational management and mentorship, similar to he did 17 seasons in the past.

Simply know that if this occurs, you’ll witness the exception, not the rule.



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