Photos: From CFL to NFL, the stars who have headed south

 

With B.C. Lions backup quarterback Mike Reilly attracting attention from several NFL teams, here’s a look at several prominent players who have migrated to the NFL after starting in the CFL.

 
 
 
 
<div id="page1">Despite his limited playing time in the past two seasons behind Travis Lulay, Lions No. 2 quarterback Mike Reilly has been scouted by five NFL teams, including the latest, the Jacksonville Jaguars.</div>
 

Despite his limited playing time in the past two seasons behind Travis Lulay, Lions No. 2 quarterback Mike Reilly has been scouted by five NFL teams, including the latest, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, PROVINCE

 
<div id="page1">Despite his limited playing time in the past two seasons behind Travis Lulay, Lions No. 2 quarterback Mike Reilly has been scouted by five NFL teams, including the latest, the Jacksonville Jaguars.</div>
Throwing on the run was just one of the many talents of Warren Moon (1) displayed on the way to building a Grey Cup ring collection with the Edmonton Eskimos. He threw for 21,228 yards and 144 touchdowns in the CFL, before going on to throw for 49,325 and 291 touchdown passes in an outstanding NFL career. Moon held the record for most passing yardage in professional football until surpassed by Damon Allen in 2006, the record for most passing touchdowns and most pass completions in pro football until surpassed by Brett Favre in 2007, and the record for most pass attempts in pro football history until surpassed by Brett Favre in 2008.
Quarterback Warren Moon&#8217;s NFL career has stops with the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs. Combining his NFL and CFL stats, Moon&#8217;s numbers are nearly unmatched in pro football: 5,357 completions in 9,205 attempts for 70,553 yards and 435 touchdowns. Even if his CFL statistics are discounted, Moon&#8217;s career is still exceptional: 3,988 completions for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdown passes, 1,736 yards rushing, and 22 rushing touchdowns. Moon was in the top five all-time when he retired for passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, and pass completions. He was named to nine Pro Bowl games (1988&#8211;1995, 1997). The only player in both the CFL and NFL Halls of Fame. He is currently a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks.
Joe Theismann&#8217;s pro football career was kick-started in the CFL after starring at Notre Dame. Beginning in 1971, Theismann spent three seasons in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts and was an all-star in two of them. In his rookie year, Theismann quarterbacked the Argonauts to a 10-4 record, led the league&#8217;s Eastern Conference in passing statistics and won a berth in the Grey Cup championship game in Vancouver but Toronto lost to the Calgary Stampeders.
Joe Theismann achieved his most enduring fame in his 12 NFL seasons playing for the Washington Redskins, with whom he was a two-time Pro Bowler and quarterback of the winning team in Super Bowl XVII in 1983. His career ended on November 18, 1985 when he suffered a gruesome compound fracture of his leg while being sacked by New York Giants linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson. The injury was voted the NFL&#8217;s Most Shocking Moment in History by viewers in an ESPN poll, and the tackle was dubbed The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget by The Washington Post.
After a stellar U.S. college career with Boston College, winning the Heisman Award, Doug Flutie played with the New Jersey Generals of the upstart USFL. In 1986 he signed with the NFL&#8217;s Chicago Bears, and later played for the New England Patriots, becoming their starting quarterback in 1988. He signed with the B.C. Lions in 1990, and in 1991, threw for a record 6,619 yards. Flutie won a record six MVP Awards, along with three Grey Cup championships in eight CFL seasons with the Lions, Stampeders and Argonauts. Flutie owns a number of passing records in the CFL and in 2008, he was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame.
Quarterback Doug Flutie returned to the NFL in 1998 with the Buffalo Bills, where he earned Pro Bowl and NFL comeback player of the year honors. He played for the San Diego Chargers from 2001-04, and finished his career as a member of the New England Patriots in 2006 at age 43. In the Patriots&#8217; regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 1, 2006, Flutie successfully drop kicked a football for an extra point, which had not been done in a regular-season NFL game since 1941.
Wide receiver (Swervin&#8217;) Mervyn Fernandez joined the B.C Lions in 1982, and made an immediate impact, finishing his rookie season with over 1,046 receiving yards. Fernandez won the Western Division outstanding rookie award, and was a finalist for the CFL&#8217;s outstanding rookie award. He was a two-time CFL all-star (1984-1985) and is a member of the B.C. Lions Wall of Fame. In 2006, Fernandez was voted one of the CFL&#8217;s top 50 players (42) of the league&#8217;s modern era by TSN. Fernandez spent his entire six-year CFL career (1982-1986, 1994) with the BC Lions. Fernandez was a key in the Lions Grey Cup championship season of 1985. Despite being injured and not playing in the game, following the Lions&#8217; 37-24 triumph over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 73rd Grey Cup, Fernandez became the first Lion to win the CFL&#8217;s Most Outstanding Player award.
Mervyn Fernandez spent his entire six-year NFL career (1987-92) with the Los Angeles Raiders. During that span, Fernandez played in 86 games and amassed 209 catches for 3,764 yards and 19 touchdowns. While Fernandez never made the Pro Bowl, he did leave his mark on the record books. His 209 career catches are 10th most by any receiver in Raiders history. His 3,764 career receiving yards ranks him eighth, ahead of Raider greats Art Powell and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Dave Casper. His 18.01 average yards per catch for his career is first among any receiver to wear the Raiders&#8217; Silver and Black. In 1988, Fernandez led NFL receivers in average yards per catch (26.0). His finest year was 1989, when he had 57 catches for 1,069 yards and nine touchdowns, leading all Raiders&#8217; receivers in almost every major category, and becoming only the sixth Raider to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
After playing mainly linebacker at Penn State, Cam Wake came to the B.C. in 2007 and earned the league&#8217;s Most Outstanding Rookie Award as a defensive end. He recorded 39 sacks over his first two seasons in the CFL, earning Western Division all-star honors as well as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award both years.
At the end of the 2008 CFL season, Wake drew interest from 17 NFL teams. He signed with the Miami Dolphins and in his first NFL game, against the Buffalo Bills, he responded with two sacks, four tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble. He was named a starter for the 2011 AFC Pro Bowl team at outside linebacker. Wake signed a four-year contract extension with the Dolphins reported to be worth a total of $49 million.
Jeff Garcia was considered too small for the NFL and was not selected in the 1994 draft. So he started his professional career in Calgary and took over as starter in 1995 when Doug Flutie was sidelined. In his second start Garcia set a team record with 546 passing yards and six touchdown passes. After Flutie signed with Toronto in 1996, Garcia took over as the Stampeders&#8217; starting quarterback. Garcia won the Most Outstanding Player in the CFL Western Division. In 1998, he led the team to a Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was named MVP. (He&#8217;s shown here celebrating the victory.
Jeff Garcia debuted in 1999 with the NFL&#8217;s San Francisco 49ers and later had another stint with the team. Since 2003, he has also played for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles (two stints) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Garcia is one of only nine quarterbacks in NFL history who have achieved two consecutive 30-touchdown passing seasons (2000 and 2001) at least one time in their career. He is also one of only thirteen quarterbacks to throw a 99 yard touchdown pass. He has also played in the United States Football League.
Toronto&#8217;s dynamic wide receiver/kick returner Raghib (Rocket) Ismail was a star at Notre Dame before coming north. Ismail had a stellar rookie season in 1991, leading the the Argonauts to the Grey Cup and was the game&#8217;s MVP as Toronto defeated the Calgary Stampeders 36-21
In 1993 as a rookie in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, Raghib (Rocket) Ismail recorded receiving 353 yards. He was traded in 1996 to Carolina and the Panthers finished 12&#8211;4, but Ismail recorded a career-low 214 yards, without a single touchdown. In 1998, Ismail recorded 69 receptions for 1,024 yards, two yards short of doubling his previous career high, and eight touchdowns. In 1999, Ismail signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent. He recorded a career-high 1,097 yards and six touchdowns. In 2000, injuries caused limited Ismail to eight games, and he recorded 350 yards. The 2001 season was Ismail&#8217;s last and he was released by the Cowboys, ending his NFL career.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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