March, 20 2023
College football has seen over five million participants since its first game ever played, and just over 1,000 of those players can call themselves a Hall of Famer. Many of our College Football Hall of Fame inductees have continued their successful professional careers in various leagues, including the CFL.
The CFL is truly unique with a wide variety of rules that differ from football in the United States, but the game is the same at its core. So it’s no surprise that of the more than thirty College Football Hall of Famers that played in the CFL, several of them are also in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
One of the greatest CFL players of all-time was Doug Flutie. Flutie, a member of the 2007 College Football Hall of Fame class, won the 1984 Heisman Trophy before heading to the CFL and the BC Lions in 1990. While we know him for his amazing career at Boston College and his unforgettable Hail Mary against the Miami Hurricanes, Flutie would go on to win three Grey Cups – the CFL’s Super Bowl – where he was the Grey Cup MVP each time. He was also a six-time Most Outstanding Player award winner in the CFL. To this day, Flutie holds the records for the most passing yards (6,619) and most passing touchdowns (48) in a CFL season.
Jackie Parker, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame 1976 class, is also widely considered one of the greatest in CFL history. At quarterback, Parker excelled in his collegiate career and was nicknamed “The Fast Freight from Mississippi State.” He would go on to set many records before leaving the Bulldogs in the early 1950s. While in the CFL, he would set the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (4,713) in a career.
Quarterbacks weren’t the only ones who went on to succeed north of the border. Garney Henley from Huron University, went on to win four Grey Cups, and was a 10-time all-star in the CFL. While he played halfback in college, Henley would go on to excel at defensive back and receiver in his professional career. Like Flutie and Parker, Henley’s legacy lives on in the CFL Hall of Fame and as a 2004 inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Joining these three in both the College Football Hall of Fame and CFL Hall of Fame is Johnny Bright. This Drake running back ending up being the first pick in the 1952 NFL draft, but instead signed to play in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders. When Bright retired from professional football in 1964, he was the league’s leading rusher and added a Most Outstanding Player award to his name.
As we impatiently await the return of football in the United States, don’t forget that the NFL isn’t the only place some of our Hall of Fame college players have gone on to play professionally. Many of the best in college football have the CFL to thank for their unbelievable professional careers.