April 11, 2018

Cauz: 12 retired athletes that should play in the CFL

The Canadian Press

Near the end of Jeff Krever’s piece on the idea of Terrell Owens making a comeback in the CFL, there is a Mary Swanson/Lloyd Christmas ‘Dumb and Dumber’ moment in the form of this Owens quote: “I train now, I’m in L.A. working out with some guys, getting ready for the upcoming season. It’s up for discussion I suppose.”

So you’re telling me there’s a chance!

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All right, I know the odds are about one out of a million (same odds Mary gave Lloyd of the two of them ending up together), but hey, it’s still a fun possibility, isn’t it? Now before I get an avalanche of protective CFL fans clamouring about a Toronto writer wanting more NFL in the CFL, let me be clear: I find all cross-league participation fascinating. Whether it’s former Calgary Stampeder Brett Jones re-signing with the Giants, Cameron Wake terrorizing quarterbacks in the AFC East or Michael Sam trying out for the Montreal Alouettes, I will always be interested in these storylines.

But let’s push this idea of ‘Famous Person X’ coming to the CFL from the extreme edges of reality to the flat out impossible but still fun to speculate/day dream about. So here is my dream list of “players” I would like to see play in the CFL, ranging from the “You know, it ain’t out of the realm of possibility” to “what the hell are you smoking?” category. Please feel free to send in your own suggestions!

Calvin Johnson

The six-time NFL Pro Bowler is only 32 years old and left the game because he was “fed up” with football. I mean that’s gonna happen when you play for the Detroit Lions. In his final season, Johnson put up more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns. Clearly this guy has several productive years left in him. What better way to revive your love of the game than by thriving in our pass happy version of football?

Johnson needs to go to a city that is the opposite of Detroit, such as Vancouver, where the ocean and mountain views will be a welcome respite from empty buildings and Lake Erie. I want to live in a world where Jonathon Jennings is throwing passes to Johnson. By the way this won’t be the last former Lion on the list.

Dwayne Johnson

You want to bring some excitement and attention to your team? Bring in “The Rock”. You want an instant infusion of personality and energy in your locker room? Sign up Hobbs! It would be a hell of a comeback story for Johnson, who was cut by Calgary more than 20 years ago. Oh, if you’re worried that at the age of 45 Johnson doesn’t have the athleticism to get it done, just check out this crazy jump from his new movie ‘Skyscraper’! (2:17 into the trailer).

I’m assuming he does his own stunts and that no CGI was used.

Zdeno Chara

All right, I admit, technically he’s still playing for the Boston Bruins, but after the Leafs take care of business in the first round of the NHL Playoffs (Come on Canada, jump on the Leafs bandwagon! I’m looking at you Blue Bombers fans!) there will be plenty of time to get him into mini-camps ahead of the pre-season.

I just want to see what this giant of a man does playing rush end. He’ll knock down a couple passes a game while striking fear into quarterbacks everywhere.

Usain Bolt

The Captain Obvious pick from this list. You let Mike Reilly go deep a couple times to Bolt, then when the secondary is giving him a massive cushion you hit him with a quick bubble screen and let him out-run whatever poor sap tries to get an angle on Bolt. Also who doesn’t want to see what sort of touchdown celebrations he’ll unleash on the crowd?

Claude Lemieux

As long as the coaching staff can coach him up to avoid as many excessive objectionable conduct penalties as possible, who doesn’t want to see a little old school element at the linebacker position?

Jamie Foxx

Only if he reprises his role as Willie Beamen from ‘Any Given Sunday’. Willie went from a third-stringer to start the season to helping lead the Miami Sharks into the playoffs and coming in for an injured Jack “Cap” Rooney to defeat the Dallas Knights in the playoffs. ‘Any Given Sunday’ was a documentary, right?

Clearly Beamen has both the physical and mental tools needed to survive the rigours of a football season. His combination of mobility and arm strength is perfect for the CFL. Also fun fact about Foxx, his first cousin is former CFL quarterback Michael Bishop.

Tony Romo

Romo may be the most likely player to back a comeback. Admittedly the NFL can offer him a higher salary, but the Alouettes do have plenty to offer. The team needs a starting quarterback so Romo would be guaranteed the starting job, plus with Chris Williams, Ernest Jackson and Tyrell Sutton there are more than enough weapons for Romo to play with. And as cities go, Montreal would be a far better place to live and be entertained compared to most American destinations.

Jared Allen

The former Minnesota Vikings defensive end finished up his NFL career with 136 sacks. Allen is only one year older than John Chick and more importantly the guy rode a horse during his retirement video!!! Get this man to Calgary!

Just imagine if the Stampeders get back to the Grey Cup and Allen is the one riding the horse into the downtown Hyatt Place in Edmonton.

Troy Polamalu

The former Steelers safety needs to sign with the Toronto Argonauts. You team him up with Bear Woods and suddenly you have the best 1-2 punch of crazy hair in the secondary. Just imagine how much fun Argonauts defensive backs coach Tyron Brackenridge could have with those two guys. Wait a minute, Brackenridge is now coaching? He was an All-Star back in 2014 and is only 33 years old. Bring him back as well!

Steve Nash

Yes, he is far too small to be on the field on a regular basis. But hear me out for a moment. Make Nash your kicker. He has displayed more than enough soccer acumen so he can be your fancy new kicker. As for durability, remember that for a 10-year stretch the guy never missed more than eight games, an impressive feat considering the size difference between himself and his opponents. Also you get the added Canadian content bonus as he can be classified as a national.

Barry Sanders

The most gifted running back I ever saw would go crazy on our wider fields. Be honest, if you’re between the ages of 35-55 and are a fan of both leagues, you have fantasized about this pairing. Don’t lie.