CFL Week line up has some notable omissions, especially Canadians (and Duron)

There isn’t much by the way of Canadian content when it comes to the players invited to CFL Week.

Of the 53 players travelling to Winnipeg next week, just eight – or 15 per cent – qualify as nationals. Given the league is almost half Canadian (21 of the 44 players on a game day roster must be nationals) the lack of homegrown talent at the CFL’s showcase off-season event seems low.

The lineup decisions for CFL Week are a collective effort that includes the league office, the individual clubs and broadcaster TSN, who uses the event to produce an array of promotional material to be used throughout the season. Input from other media outlets, including the print, digital and radio outlets who cover the league on an ongoing basis, is not part of the process.

“Players are chosen together by TSN, RDS and the CFL. Teams are consulted, but the choices rest with our broadcasters and the league. The key events are the TSN/RDS video and photo shoot as well as the media days,” a league spokesman said in a statement. “In other words, this is a marketing event, not an all-star team selection. Unfortunately, budgets do not allow us to invite an even greater number although there are several other great players we would love to include.”

While the eight national selections were certainly worthy – Alex Singleton, Ted Laurent, Andrew Harris, Taylor Loffler, Jamaal Westerman, Jerome Messam, Brad Sinopoli, Cleyon Laing – there were plenty of others who should have made the cut. Canadian quarterbacks Brandon Bridge and Andrew Buckley – an obvious choice given Bo Levi Mitchell’s excused absence – would have been worthy additions.

The list is devoid of offensive lineman (more on that in a bit) but even staying with the skilled positions, players like Winnipeg’s Nic Demski, Saskatchewan’s Rob Bagg and B.C.’s Shaq Johnson would have fit the bill. Defensive backs like Arjen Colquhoun – the Eskimos do not have a single Canadian among their five invitees – Hamilton’s Courtney Stephen and Toronto’s Matt Black (both interesting guys heavily involved in their communities) would have been excellent choices. Eskimo linebacker Adam Konar is a legit ratio-breaker who deserves more attention.

Bu the lack of Canadian players was hardly the only oversight. Here are five large omissions from the league’s list.

1. Duron Carter.

We did an entire post about the fact that the Saskatchewan receiver isn’t officially invited but is still planning to show up in Winnipeg and he would definitely face some questions about his two pending possession charges a simple “I can’t talk about it because it’s before the courts,” would deal with those queries.

The fact that Carter is still coming to do TSN shoots is an indicator that the team and the league still expect him to play next season, regardless of his legal troubles, and that he’s a big enough star to justify the trip.

Carter has the capacity to generate good publicity for the CFL as well and has done so on several occasions, including giving away a game ball to a cancer survivor and taking Rider fans to the movies during the playoffs. He’s a polarizing figure who generates plenty of discussion and debate and isn’t that what CFL Week is supposed to be about?

2. French Canadians

The CFL has two teams, Ottawa and Montreal, that depend on support from French Canadians and yet invited just a single player – Hamilton’s Ted Laurent – with strong French language skills. The Redblacks’ Antoine Pruneau would have been an obvious choice as is Saskatchewan’s Marc-Olivier Brouillette. Again, the CFL’s aversion to offensive lineman means that players like Montreal centre Luc Brodeur-Jourdain aren’t included.

3. Offensive lineman

Zero. That’s the number of offensive lineman coming to CFL Week, a decrease from the one (then-Roughrider Derek Dennis) who made the trip last year.

While we understand that offensive lineman rarely become stars in the CFL, they are some of the most articulate guys in the game. Hamilton’s Mike Filer, Toronto’s Chris Van Zeyl and Saskatchewan’s Peter Dyakowski are just three examples of good players who give excellent interviews on a regular basis.

Including at least a few offensive linemen – and there are eight defensive linemen on the list – would raise the Canadian content as well as the level of discourse (ask Dyakowski what it means.)

4. Kickers

Again, zero kickers on the list. Given their importance in deciding the outcome of games, you would think that giving them a bit more profile would make sense. And like the offensive lineman, there are a number of articulate kickers who represent the league well, including Calgary’s Rob Maver, Hamilton’s Lirim Hajrullahu and Winnipeg’s Justin Medlock. Saskatchewan punter Josh Bartel would never come back early from Australia but he’s a terrific interview.

5. The next generation of stars

Of 53 players on this year’s list, 32 were invited to CFL Week last year and while some of that duplication is to be expected, it would have been nice to see some up-and-comers on the list. Of the nine players who won Most Outstanding Rookie for their respective teams, just three are coming to CFL Week. The excluded list includes a number of American defensive backs and a kicker but Edmonton’s Kwaku Boateng, a Canadian defensive end, would have been a worthy inclusion.

Other names who deserve the attention that CFL Week might have offered include Hamilton receiver Jalen Saunders, Toronto’s Shawn Lemon, Martese Jackson and T.J. Heath, Winnipeg’s Chandler Fenner and Montreal’s Branden Dozier – just to name a few.

CFL Week is a great initiative – 3Down will be covering it again this year – but the CFL and its partners need to expand their narrow view of who the league’s stars are and who they could be.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1570 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

18 Comments on CFL Week line up has some notable omissions, especially Canadians (and Duron)

  1. Ottawa does NOT rely on French Canadians for support.
    There are French Canadians in the area especially in Gatineau but few attend REDBLACKS games.
    Only FOURTEEN PERCENT of people in Ottawa have French as their mother tongue.
    That is a lower percentage then Torontonians speaking Chinese!!

    • Arsenal/Noir et Or // March 15, 2018 at 11:11 am //

      They actually do. I’m a season ticket holder and in close proximity to my seat, there were at least 9 francophone season ticket holders last season (Franco-Ontarians and Québecois). I also have more than 10 francophone acquaintances that are season ticket holders, in a multitude of sections. Walking around TD place, you’ll hear a lot of French and see a lot of Pruneau jerseys.

      Every time I’ve crossed paths with Marcel Desjardins, I’ve thanked him for the outreach from the Rouge et Noir to the francophone community (team practices in Hull, Grey Cup showing at Les Promenades Gatineau, francophone players meeting with Gatineau high school and Cégep football teams, fan events in bars, etc.). He’s told me that they love to do it but at the same time, it’s part of their marketing. Smart move, if you ask me.

      So yes, Ottawa actually does rely on French Canadians for support.

      The CFL (and RDS!) should have taken the Rouge et Noir’s cue on this. It’s just smart marketing.

      • Exaclty… Was not even aware that it was not common knowledge for everyone… Also, people in Quebec tend to be for a bigger representation of canadien in the CFL. The fact that Ottawa use and develop their canadian players far better than the Alouettes, and often use more than the minimum 7 canadian starters, have gain them a lot of french canadian fans who are not in the Gatineau area.

  2. It seems no matter what the league does ,it is going to get pooped on by the media.

  3. Drew – as you stated in the article “the lack of homegrown talent at the CFL’s showcase off-season event seems low”
    That’s because we have a LACK OF HOMEGROWN TALENT.
    Another reason why Ambrosie and the CFL must wake up and REDUCE the Canadian ratio – LACK OF HOMEGROWN TALENT

    • Steve J. // March 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm //

      I’d rather see MORE Canadian talent on the teams. If I want to watch an a team made up of entirely American players, I can just tune into the NFL, which I don’t because the CFL is a better game, in my opinion .

      • I agree. If the gamE roster is 44, I think the roster should be made up of a minimum 23 Canadians, with no exceptions for QBS.

  4. The Realist // March 15, 2018 at 10:55 am //

    Yeh JIM, lets go with 11 players, ‘fair catches’ and we should be singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ before each game too.

  5. The league is going to market it’s marquee players, in other words, it’s starters. 7 of the 24 starters on a game day lineup are Canadian, or just under 30%. Sure, there are some talented Canadians who could have been invited, but stop pretending half the CFL week invites should have been Canadian.

  6. Hahaha!! Good one “Real Guy” . My sentiments exactly!!

  7. Bridge, Dyakowski and Bagg would have been great additions. Bridge is the Canadian QB who I think will be a very good starting QB in this league. Dyakowski is a character and a brainiac. He has also played in both the east and the west, so he offers a pan Canadian perspective, and Bagg was an undrafted FA who has now spend 10 years in the league, so he shows what perseverance can do.

    As much as I like Carter – I think I’m going to get a Carter jersey this year, in fact – there have to be consequences for getting busted for pot twice in an off season. As much as he loves this kind of thing, and he’s very good at it as well, if you’re going to get into the kind of trouble he got into this off-season the league is not going to use you as a PR person. Keep your nose clean next off-season, and show the right kind of contrition when this is all over, and you’d be a great guy to have there next year.

  8. Edward Leslie // March 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm //

    JIM, we certainly have a lack of quality Canadian supporters anyway. YOU for example. You aren’tt very loyal to Canada and you have a real inferiority complex. You continually harp on about lowering the number of CANADIANS in the CANADIAN Football League. If you don’t like Canadians, I’d suggest you watch the NFL instead. They only have about 20 Canadian players in the entire league. Perfect for an American wannabe such as yourself.
    I wonder if you’d feel the same way about replacing workers (including you) at your job, if you have one, with Americans? I kind if doubt it.

  9. footballnut // March 15, 2018 at 3:06 pm //

    What a shame. The CFL has always missed the boat on marketing canadian players back to their communities. Thats what kids relate to up here. The league constantly talks about its aging fan base but what have they really tried to do that will engage young people up here?

  10. Whiny article. You say include Demski? Why, he was invisible last season, so much so that losing him is actually an addition by subtraction for the Riders.

    You want the stars of the league to represent the league at this event and that is exactly what is happening.

  11. Birdlover // March 15, 2018 at 10:56 pm //

    Tommie Campbell??? Hello? How can a guy who gave up 1 tds in 20 games not be amongst the elite? Backup QBs get to go? Huh?

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