A new CFL football, identical in size and shape to an NFL ball, is being tested around the league and could possibly be used in game action as soon as next season, per sources.
Each team has samples of the new footballs – distributed in April and kept highly secretive – that are made to the same standards as pigskins used in the NFL. Sources say the move, which could make the balls easier to throw and catch, is being considered in an effort to improve scoring.
“The league has asked teams to help us test different footballs. Before any are put into play, it would need to go through a series of approvals,” a league spokesperson says.
Both leagues have standards for the minimum and maximum size their footballs but the Canadian ball is, generally, slightly larger. If a CFL ball is constructed to the maximum specifications and the NFL ball the minimum, which is how they’re currently made, the Canadian football would be a 1/4 of an inch longer and 1/8 of an inch bigger around.
The new CFL ball would also be closer in size to the balls used in American college football, which have slightly smaller specifications than the NFL.
The old CFL slogan ‘Our balls our bigger’ exacerbated the misconception that three-down footballs were much larger, when in fact ‘Our balls are slightly bigger’ might have made for a more appropriate reflection of the pigskins currently used in the CFL.
While the white stripes would remain on the CFL ball, the new balls would essentially be an NFL football with a CFL logo on it.
In addition to changing the size and shape to match the NFL ball, the CFL would also eliminate their raised and textured laces and go the NFL’s flat style. The CFL wants to improve the leather quality of the new balls and tighten its overall specifications, which are currently lower than the NFL’s. Such a move would likely improve the quality, durability and consistency of each and every CFL ball.
Players – particularly quarterbacks, receivers and kickers – have been asked to try the new balls and give feedback to the league.
Sources say players generally support the change. Quarterbacks feel the new balls are easier to throw and receivers find them more catchable. Punters can turn the ball over more consistently and overall kicking distances might improve as well.
There’s likely to be concern from purists who celebrate the differences between the Canadian and American pro football leagues.