Frequently Asked Questions about Teams
- What is the origin of CFL team names? What is an Alouette, Stampeder, Roughrider, or Blue Bomber, etc.?#
The B.C. franchise was briefly called the BC Cubs1 before they adopted the Lions nickname after a fan contest to select the team's moniker. The name Lions comes from the twin mountain peaks north of Vancouver who are said to be guarding Vancouver.
The Calgary Stampeders are named after the Calgary Stampede, the world's largest rodeo, held annually in Calgary. The team adopted the name in 1945. A stampeder is an animal participating in a sudden, panic-stricken rush of animals. Like the use of stampeder for a person participating in a gold rush at the turn of the last century, stampeder was also likely used to refer to one who attends/participates in the Stampede Rodeo.
The Edmonton Eskimos are named for the Eskimo, or Inuit, of northern Canada. While not located in the far north land of the Inuit, the nickname Eskimos was likely adopted for the alliterative effect and as a reference to Edmonton's northern location. The original name was Esquimaux from 1897 to 1910, from the archaic French spelling. Edmonton has faced some pressure in the past couple decades to change their team name, most recently in 2011.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats originated when the Hamilton Tigers and Hamilton Wildcats merged in 1950, forming the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The Montreal Alouettes literally translated are the Montreal Larks. Alouette is the French term for a skylark, a type of bird. The term Alouette has a strong connection in Quebec from the folksong of the same name.
The first verse of Alouette
Alouette, gentille Alouette Alouette, je te plumerai Je te plumerai la tête (Je te plumerai la tête) Et la tête (Et la tête) Alouette (Alouette) O-o-o-oh
Briefly in the 1980's the Montreal team was know as the Concordes after the franchise was revoked in 1982 and assigned to a new ownership group, but the intellectual property for the Alouettes name still remained with the original owner, Nelson Skalbania.
The Concorde name was chosen for its bilingualism. It originated from the latin motto of Montreal — Concordia Salus (well-being through harmony) — but also (perhaps unintentionally) played on the supersonic passenger jet Concorde, though the team logos reflected the latin motto origin.
The Alouette name was reacquired and the team renamed for its final full season before folding before the 1987 regular season.
Ottawa Rough Riders
The generally accepted origin for the Ottawa Football Club is they adopted the nickname Rough Riders and red and black colours on Sept. 9th, 18982, the colours and name from the Canadian Regiment3 of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American war.
There are some issues with this explanation. First, there was no Canadian Regiment of the Rough Riders. Nine Canadians are known to have served with Roosevelt's 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed the Rough Riders, despite British neutrality laws that forbid Canadians from serving in either side's armed forces. Little is known about the Canadians that did serve. It is clear this origin has evolved incorrectly over the years which calls the whole statement into question without original documents to confirm this origin.
While a Sept. 9th adoption of the name would have been at the peak of popularity of the term, with the regiment returning home from Cuba Aug. 14th after the Spanish surrender, the regiment disbanded on Sept. 15th, six days after this naming tribute.
It has also been suggested the nickname originated from the title given to drivers who rode logs down the Ottawa River. It is likely that both the local and international origins as well as “Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” provided the lexicon used to select the name.
Unfortunately, the Rough Riders folded after the 1996 season.
A franchise returned to Ottawa from 2002-2005 as the Renegades, which was selected by the owners from fan submissions. A new franchise, granted to begin play in the 2014 season has not been named yet, though it will not be Rough Riders.
The nickname Roughriders adopted by Regina likely comes from the name given to horsemen, specifically those that broke broncos. NWMP members who played two rugby matches in Winnipeg in 1890 were referred to as "Roughriders" and Regina was home to the NWMP, who later became the RCMP. While the team was referred to casually as the Roughriders once in 1915 in the Regina Leader the team officially adopted the name in 19244. Prior to that they were known as the Regina Rugby Club. In 1946 the team switched to a provincial designation and became the Saskatchewan Roughriders, officially adopting that moniker in 1950.
Whoa! Just a minute, two Rough Riders?
Each team, the Rough Riders and Roughriders, developed their nicknames with completely different origins, meanings and spellings from each other. As they played in separate Rugby Unions the teams were not under the same organization until the Unions formed under the Canadian Football Council in 1956 (later the CFL in 1958). Partial interlocking play did not begin until 1961, at which time the two clubs would first face each other in regular season play. With the abolishing of the separate independent Western and Eastern conferences in 1981, the last vestiges of the old rugby unions were dismantled and all teams became direct members of the the CFL. Canadians were intelligent enough to distinguish the two teams and they co-existed for 40 years. The insecure and dimwitted struggled with the situation and the anti-nationalists used it to attack the CFL and anything Canadian as being second rate.
As mentioned, the Ottawa Rough Riders folded after the 1996 season and their former owner, Horn Chen, retained the rights to the team name and logos. The CFL has since initiated the process to reacquire those rights. Since this time, there has been just the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL, who have made it certain that an Ottawa franchise named the Rough Riders will not return. Any ridicule should now be directed towards the SEC who as of 2012 has three teams which share the nickname Tigers (two in the same division with the third joining in 2012) and two that share the nickname Bulldogs. For shame, the SEC stooping below the level of the CFL is immensely embarrassing for them. The CIS has the Saint Mary's Huskies and the Saskatchewan Huskies with Saskatchewan just waiting to lay sole claim to the Husky name. The existence of the Rough Riders/Roughriders is an widely debated topic since the demise of the original Ottawa franchise and one side is presented in an article on cfldb.
The Toronto Argonaut Football club was formed by the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club in 1873. The rowing club naturally selected the maritime nickname Argonauts after the Greek band of heroes who accompanied Jason in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. That nickname followed to the football club who have retained it to become the oldest professional sports club with its original name. The Argos slogan “Pull Together” was used on their logo until the late 1960's and works in a football sense as well as the obvious rowing connotation.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Winnipeg was known as the Winnipeg Winnipegs Rugby Football Club whose colours were blue and gold starting in 19325. A comment by a reporter calling the team "the blue bombers of Western Football" in 1936 led the team to be called the Blue Bombers first unofficially, then officially soon after. The bomber reference was to heavyweight champion Joe Louis, popular at that time, whose nickname was the Brown Bomber.
1 — Bobby Ackles, The Water Boy (Mississauga: John Wiley & Sons Canada, 2008), 59.
2 — "Ottawa Rough Riders" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 6 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_Rough_Riders>
3 — Facts, Figures and Records: 2008 Edition, (Toronto: Canadian Football League), 287.
4 — Robert Calder, Sasktachewan Roughriders — First 100 Years (Regina: Centax Books, 2009), 25.
5 — "Winnipeg Blue Bombers" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 18 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnipeg_Blue_Bombers>
- How many teams are in the CFL? How many and what were the US based teams in the CFL? What are the US cities linked to potential CFL franchises? How many teams have participated in the CFL?#
As of 2012, there are eight teams in the CFL, aligned in two 4-team divisions. A ninth franchise in Ottawa has been approved to begin play in the 2014 season pending the construction of their new stadium.
For most of the league's history (since formation of the CFL in 1958) there have been nine teams in the league. The league had a nine-team membership from 1958 through 1986, eight teams from 1987 to 1992, nine teams in 1993, twelve teams in 1994, thirteen teams in 1995, nine teams in 1996, eight teams from 1997 through 2001, nine teams from 2002 to 2005 and eight teams from 2006 to present.
In the 1990's seven US cities were home to CFL franchises, Sacramento (relocated to San Antonio), Las Vegas, Memphis, Birmingham, Shreveport and Baltimore. The Baltimore franchise eventually relocated to Montreal to become the current Alouettes. Two US cities were granted franchises which never materialized, Orlando and San Antonio, while their were many cities named in relocation speculation of the Las Vegas and Shreveport franchises including Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Jackson, Mississippi and Norfolk, Virginia.
The CFL's 1992 expansion plans1 outlined by new commissioner Larry Smith targeted Portland, Sacramento, and San Antonio as serious US expansion sites with Orlando, San Jose, St. Petersburg, Las Vegas, Birmingham and Hawaii as other candidates. Other cities mentioned by league executives and media in the 1990's included Detroit, Rochester and Fargo.
In all, from the beginning of the Grey Cup history starting in 1907, 57 teams have participated in play in 32 cities. Thirteen of these teams are Word War II service teams that competed when most civilian teams suspended operation during the war. At least another ten teams were amateur or university clubs.
1 — Frank Cosentino, A Passing Game (Winnipeg: Bain & Cox, 1995), 335.
- What is the CFL expansion draft format? What have been the rules for CFL expansion drafts?#
The CFL (and its precursors) has had three periods of expansion (see A History of Expansion section). In 1954, the addition of the BC Lions to the WIFU provided no expansion draft. The 1990's US expansion period provided no expansion draft since US franchises were not held to roster limits imposed by the CBA. In 2002, the addition of the Ottawa Renegades provided the CFL's first expansion draft.
The expansion draft rules for the next teams to join the CFL (specifically the Ottawa franchise in 2014) have been agreed to and released. The Ottawa expansion draft is tentatively scheduled for December 2013. The rules provide for:
- three draft rounds, one import player round and two non-import player rounds with Ottawa receiving 8 imports (including 2 quarterbacks) and 16 non-imports
- first import round member clubs will protect one quarterback and ten other import players. Ottawa will select one player from each member club in this round.
- first non-import round member clubs will protect six non-import players. Ottawa will select one player from each member club in this round.
- second non-import round member clubs will protect an additional six-non-import players. Ottawa will select one player from each member club in this round.
- each team can protect one quarterback, Ottawa can select two quarterbacks during the draft
- if a quarterback is selected from a member club, that club will be able to protect two additional non-import players in the first non-import round of the draft
- if a kicker or punter is selected from a member club in the import draft, that member club will be able to protect one additional non-import player in the first non-import round of the draft.
- non-import kicker or punter must be selected in the first non-import round of the draft. If such a player is selected, the member club losing such a player would be able to protect an additional two players in the second non-import round.
- teams will not be able to lose both a quarterback and kicker/punter in the draft.
In addition Ottawa will select in the ninth position of each of the first four rounds of the 2013 draft where they can only select NCAA underclassmen. In 2014, Ottawa will select in the first position of each round of the draft as well as the last two picks. Ottawa will also be provided a negotiation list (for unsigned players) of up to 25 players and 10 quarterbacks prior to returning to the league.
The 2002 Expansion Draft allowed the Ottawa franchise to select:
- 1 quarterback from each of the existing Club's roster or negotiation list (clubs could protect 3 quarterbacks, not more than 2 on their active roster).
- 1 import player from each of the existing Club's roster.
- 7 non-import players, of which no more than four may be offensive lineman and no more than one be a kicker
- following the initial selection of non-imports, clubs submitted names of six non-imports to protect. Ottawa could then select one additional non-import player from each existing Club or the 2002 2nd Round Draft choice of the the existing Club.
Full 2002 Expansion Draft rules are linked to on the CBA page.
- When did the CFL have an equalization draft? How did the CFL equalization draft work?#
The CFL held an equalization draft in February or March of 1987, 1988 and 1989. The 1987 draft was held in secret by the league and leaked to the press before the results could be announced. The 1987 draft was officially referred to as the Competitive Balance Plan by the league. Future equalization drafts had public rules defined before their execution.
The 1987 draft provided for the three teams in the league with the lowest records in the 1986 season to choose three players from the remaining six teams. The selecting teams were Montreal, Ottawa and Saskatchewan. The exact rules of the 1987 draft were not made public and before the leak, the league expected to explain the player movement through trades or waivers. Of the nine players selected, seven were non-imports and two were imports. It is not clear what rules were in place for teams to protect players before selections were made. Montreal withdrew from the league after the 1987 pre-season and their players were distributed to other teams in a dispersal draft.
In 1988 the bottom team in each division in the previous season (Ottawa and Saskatchewan) selected three players from the remaining six teams. Non-participating teams were allowed to protect a specified number of non-import players; the remaining non-import players were made available to the draftees. Non-participating teams could lose a maximum of one player in the draft, once a player was selected from a team, further players were not allowed to be selected from that team. In 1989 the number of players drafted per team was reduced to two and Calgary and Ottawa participated as draftees.
The following table provides a list of players selected in the three equalization drafts.
From To Comments 1987 Dan Rashovich Tor Mtl Selected by Ssk in the Alouettes Dispersal draft, June 1987 Sean McKeown Cgy Mtl Selected by Ham in the Alouettes Dispersal Draft, June 1987 Bob Skemp BC Mtl Selected by Tor in the Alouettes Dispersal Draft, June 1987 Marv Allemang Ham Ott Craig Schaffer Edm Ott Mike Gray BC Ott Walter Bender Ham Ssk Donnohue Grant Tor Ssk Released prior to regular season John Hufnagel Wpg Ssk 1988 Kari Yli-Renko Cgy Ott Rob Pavan Wpg Ott Paul Nastasiuk BC Ott Brian Walling Tor Ssk Greg McCormack Edm Ssk Jeff Treftlin Ham Ssk 1989 Dan Ferrone Tor Cgy Signed with Toronto as free agent prior to 1990 season Doug Davies Ham Cgy Injured for 1989 season Alex Carter Edm Ott David Conrad Ssk Ott
- How do CFL teams travel? Do CFL teams travel by air or other means? Do any CFL teams own their own private jets? What is a CFL franchise's travel costs for a season?#
Teams in the CFL use a multitude of travel methods depending on the team, the destination and their schedule. The primary method of travel is by air, either by charter or by commercial airline. Recently there has been a shift to more air travel and more charter air travel so most teams fly exclusively by air, with only the Ontario and Quebec teams using other methods. Teams have found ways to help offset the cost of chartering flights for the best possible arrival and departure times.
Teams have used train or bus travel to reach their destination for shorter trips in the past. For example, Toronto and Hamilton have and will continue to travel to games with each other by bus due to their close proximity. This has also occurred for games between Calgary and Edmonton and Winnipeg and Saskatchewan as well, though this is now being replaced by charter flights in the West. Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal continue to travel to games among them by train, though not necessarily for every game.
Travel decisions such as charter or commercial flights are not always about the cost. Some other factors affecting travel arrangements are:
- scheduling. Not all cities have direct commercial flights to destination cities so layover requirements and time of departure/arrival are factors.
- available capacity. Teams will need at least 62-65 seats on any commercial flight, which may not be available on some regional short-haul carriers. On the other hand, a 70-seat regional charter aircraft is the perfect size for the team.
- equipment load. The carrier must be able to accommodate the equipment the team needs to bring with them or arrangements must be made to ship it separately.
For these reasons, charter flights can be the better option in some cases. Commercial flights are more likely used when their are frequent flights to major destinations like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. When commercial flights are used, coach class would be the norm except when upgraded by the airline. There are not enough first-class/business class seats on most domestic flights to accommodate a complete football team.
At present no CFL team has a private jet, which is par with about 98% of North American professional sports teams. To my recollection the only time a team has flown by private jet was the Toronto Argonauts in the early 1990's when majority owner Bruce McNall flew the team on the Los Angeles Kings' Boeing 727 (if I recall correctly) for a few games.
Travel costs for franchises will be in the $500,000 range. This is based on the Edmonton Eskimos 2010 financial statements showing Away game costs of $630,000 in 2010 and $592,000 is 2009. It is assumed this includes flights and hotels and possibly also meals and player per diems. The reason for the increase is largely likely due to the Eskimos road game in Moncton in 2010 as well as inflationary costs. The Saskatchewan Roughriders showed Away game costs of $448,000 for 2009, including the Grey Cup. It is not clear if they include the same costs in their figures as Edmonton, or if their travel distances and methods were similar.
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