When Craig Dickenson came north of the border, he had a view of the CFL like many other Americans who have disrespected the league from afar.
The current Saskatchewan Roughriders’ bench boss had spent two years with the San Diego Chargers as an assistant special teams coach prior to accepting a job with the Calgary Stampeders for the 2002 season.
His brother Dave Dickenson produced a CFL MOP campaign in 2000 with the Stamps, completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 4,636 yards with 36 touchdowns against six interceptions.
Perhaps seeing and hearing about his younger sibling dominating the three-down league caused Dickenson to think it was easy to be successful on the field, booths or sidelines in Canada.
“Every player I’ve ever known that’s come up from the NFL, and every coach — myself included — you come up here and it’s a dose of reality,” Dickenson said in a videoconference.
“The football up here is very good and they play at a high level. You have to be on your ‘A’ game or else you’re going to be sent home.”
For nearly 20 years Dickenson has made Canada his coaching home, except in 2010 when he was the assistant special teams coach with the Oakland Raiders. The 49-year-old native of Great Falls, Montana has been part of two Grey Cup-winning teams — 2008 with Calgary and 2015 in Edmonton — and fully comprehends the elite competition level.
“The people of Canada should be proud of the CFL,” Dickenson said, “it’s a high-quality, high-calibre league.”