Shutdown Corner - NFL

Football season starts today. If you're Canadian, that is.

More Americans may be taking an active interest these days, too. The NFL Network announced yesterday that they'll be broadcasting Canadian Football League games this year, starting tonight with the big Montreal Alouettes vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders game.

Not a Canadian football fan? Me neither, really. But it's not because there's anything wrong with their game, it's just because I never really see it. And hey, it's July, and I know a lot of you don't care for the soccer.

The CFL's version of football is pretty similar to our beloved game, but there are some differences. Here's a list of things that might seem a little bit odd to an NFL fan, and I'll be honest with you ... on most of these rule differences, the Canadian version sounds like the better option to me.

Note:

• The Canadian field of play is 110 yards long, and their endzones are 20 yards deep. They put their goal posts right at the goal line, too.

• They play with 12 players on a side. The extra guy is usually a slotback or some kind.

• They only get three downs to achieve a first down. Their first downs are the same ten yards as ours.

• The game isn't over when the clock is at 0:00. They play to the zeroes, and then the offense gets one more play.

• The ROUGE! On a kickoff, if the returner fails to advance the ball out of his own endzone, the kicking team gets a point. They get a ROUGE! Same applies on a punt, and a team can also get a ROUGE! by punting the ball out of the back of the endzone. A kickoff that goes out of the back of the endzone results in nothing special.

• They only get one time-out per half.

• They don't have a two-minute warning. They have a three-minute warning.

• They can go in motion like a group of heroin addicts in the park. Anyone in the backfield can be in motion as much as they want, wherever they want, alongside whoever else they want. Wide receivers, too.

• They don't have fair catches on punts, but the punting team has to allow the returner to catch the ball. If it hits the ground, it's a live ball.

• A guy can try a field goal, literally, any damn time he feels like it. Running down the field, and you don't think you can score, but your leg feels good? Pull up and try a drop-kick. Make it, and a field goal is yours.

• Defensive players have to play a full yard back of the line of scrimmage.

• Defensive backs can only jam receivers within one yard of the line of scrimmage.

• They call ham bacon!

Tonight's game starts at 7 p.m. All I can tell you about is that Avon Cobourne, the star running back for the Alouettes, is going to get buck wild on that Roughrider defense.

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