Tim Tebow's release from the New York Jets has provoked plenty of speculation about where he'll land, and with his NFL options apparently dwindling (although perhaps not non-existent), many are bringing up the idea of him heading to Canada. At first glance, this isn't a ludicrous idea given the history involved: quarterbacks once overlooked by the NFL such as Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia honed their skills in the CFL before finding success south of the border.
Moreover, there is some interest in Tebow on the CFL end: TSN's Dave Naylor reported Monday that the Montreal Alouettes still have Tebow on their negotiation list (meaning they're the only CFL team he can play for, barring a trade of his rights) and that general manager Jim Popp said the team would "take a look at him" if Tebow elected to come north. Canadian football has changed significantly since the days of Moon and Flutie, though, and there are particular circumstances in Tebow's case that might make heading to the CFL a poor decision for him.
The first argument against the Tebow to the CFL storyline is that heading to Canada isn't a quick path back to NFL stardom. The Canadian game is vastly different from the American version, featuring a bigger field, 12 men a side, three downs, expanded motion rules and several other changes, so that makes adapting to it a tough challenge for any athlete. That's why the CFL all-star list each year tends to have plenty of older players who have been in the league for years; experience in the three-down game can be just as valuable as raw athletic skill.
This is even more true for American quarterbacks, as they essentially have to relearn the route trees, coverage packages and reads they've seen all their lives thanks to the differences in the game (particularly the 12 men on each side). A standard CFL defensive alignment is four defensive linemen, two linebackers, a hybrid linebacker/defensive back, two cornerbacks, two halfbacks and a single safety; the reads against that package are incredibly different from anything seen in American football, and when you throw in the expanded motion receivers can use and the larger field (plus the need to get more yards on each down), it can be exceptionally difficult for quarterbacks to adapt.Read More »from Tim Tebow’s potential in the CFL isn’t the slam-dunk it appears to be