The NFL may have a 17-game schedule this year, but fans of the CFL get a five-week head start to the regular season.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers open play on Aug. 5, and the Tiger-Cats are favored to win the 108th Grey Cup. The Blue Bombers, incidentally, are the reigning Grey Cup champions. Training camps are underway for our players up north.
CFL Grey Cup Champion odds
|Grey Cup Champion Odds||DraftKings Sportsbook||William Hill Sportsbook||FanDuel Sportsbook||BetMGM Sportsbook||BetRivers Sportsbook||PointsBet Sportsbook|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||+550||+500||+800||+400||+500||+650|
You can spell CFL without an ‘X’
Even though we’re still three weeks away from “real” football, our northern friends created some headlines on July 7. In relationship terms, the CFL and the XFL announced they are “taking a break” after a spring fling.
If you’ll recall, the XFL tried to make a go of it in the spring of 2020 (yikes) but the pandemic halted play after three games. The franchises are/were the:
- Dallas Renegades
- DC Defenders
- Houston Roughnecks
- Los Angeles Wildcats
- New York Guardians
- St. Louis BattleHawks
- Seattle Dragons
- Tampa Bay Vipers
Leagues weren’t right for each other
Back in March, it looked like we might get to bet on Roughnecks vs. (Saskatchewan) Roughriders or Tiger-Cats vs. BattleHawks.
Here’s what Dany Garcia, XFL chairwoman and owner, said in a March 10 statement from the leagues:
“Since we first acquired the XFL, we have focused on identifying partners who share our vision and values on and off the field. … The CFL has expressed that similar sentiment. Jointly we recognize a great opportunity to build exciting innovative football experiences that make the most of each league’s unique strengths. I look forward to our continued discussions and we will update the sports community as we have more to share.”
The CFL provided that update on July 7. They said talks were “positive and constructive,” but:
“We and our XFL counterparts have jointly decided to not pursue any formal arrangements at this time. We at the CFL are now squarely focused on preparing for Aug. 5 and the start of our 2021 regular season, which will culminate Dec. 12 with the playing of the 108th Grey Cup in Hamilton, Ontario. We are looking forward to this year and a bright future for our league.”
Instead of eloping to Canada, the XFL isn’t going to put itself out there again until the 2023 season. The CFL said it is open to talks down the road.
CFL betting is legal in Iowa, XFL needs approval upon return
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko said:
“It was actually an authorized league at one point early on. Then, when they made the decision to not start back up, we did take them off the board. At some point, if they were to come back in their same form are some other form, we would just vet them like any other league. I don’t anticipate any material issues at all, unless there were significant changes from when we first reviewed them.”
The CFL could see an uptick of interest through sports wagering. A Canadian bill ending the ban on single-event sports betting received Royal Assent on June 30. Provinces can now decide if and how bets will take place in their jurisdictions.
Iowa college connections in the CFL
Six of the nine CFL franchises list players with Iowa college ties on their active rosters. Toronto has three. BC and Ottawa have two.
- BC Lions — RB James Butler (Iowa) and DL Niklas Gustav (Morningside College)
- Edmonton Elks — WR Tevaun Smith (Iowa)
- Calgary Stampeders — OL Julian Good-Jones (Iowa State)
- Saskatchewan Roughriders —DB Deiondré Hall (Northern Iowa)
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers — None
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats — None
- Toronto Argonauts — DL Rickey Neal (Northern Iowa), WR Terrell Sinkfield Jr. (Northern Iowa) and DL Jhaustin Thomas (Iowa State)
- Ottawa Redblacks — DL Clayon Laing (Iowa State) and OL Nolan MacMillan (Iowa)
- Montreal Alouettes — None