When Brendan Taman was a CFL general manager, he divided the personnel board in his office into three categories: the blues (Americans), q’s (quarterbacks) and reds (Canadians.) And he believes it’s possible to find reds if you work hard enough.
“That’s the Canadian Football League, that’s what the rules are, that’s what we play with and I was never one to complain about it. It was just something you had to adjust to. To me that was always the fun of putting a team together,” Taman said on 620 CKRM The SportsCage.
“People have to remember what the CFL is all about and it’s a very intricate, specialized league where the Canadians play a big role.”
Taman was born in Saskatoon and rose through the ranks to become the Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager for five seasons from 2004-2008. Just a couple years later, Taman filled the same role for the Saskatchewan Roughrider. Taman’s teams went to three Grey Cups and won the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina while protecting starting quarterback Darian Durant with four Canadians starting along the offensive line.
“I’ve seen more good Canadian O-linemen come into the league than good new American linemen, just in general. The complaint would be there’s not enough of them, my argument would be ‘okay show me all these American linemen coming up here’ because I don’t see a lot of those either,” Taman said.
“If you want to play four American [offensive] lineman, go for it, just account for it otherwise with the other Canadians somewhere else on your team. There’s good Canadian running backs, there’s good Canadian receivers, there’s good Canadian linebackers, there’s good Canadian safeties. There’s ways you can do it.”
Both the CFL and CFLPA are in favour of reducing the number of national starters. Currently, seven of the 24 starters on offence and defence must be nationals, part of the 21 non-imports on the 44-man game day roster. But those numbers might change at the bargaining table.
“I don’t buy the fact that there’s not enough good Canadians, frankly, that can supply these teams with players. And yes when you get a lot of injuries, it’s going to be a little tougher. Well, guess what? Life’s tough,” Taman said.
“Then why did the league increase the draft rounds a few years back? That’s telling you right there that there is enough Canadians out there to play because we’re going to increase the draft number. So two or three years later you’re now saying there isn’t enough? What changed?”
Taman first began as a scout in 1987 with the Riders, making stops in Ottawa and B.C. in addition to his time with the Bombers. Taman has over 28 years of player personnel experience on his resume.
“There’s Canadian talent out there – I swear there is. You have to go look for it, develop it and massage it. What makes a good CFL team? Canadians and quarterbacks. Work at it, go find them, there is some,” Taman said.
“Not many Canadians come into the league and be automatic starters in their first year. Some Americans will but some Americans also might come up and not even figure out how the game works in two weeks of training camp and get cut. I strongly believe in the Canadian program they have going.”