The middle of summer in Kansas City can be an agonizing time for football fans as the start of the college and professional seasons are still months away and the performance of the local baseball team does not help you forget this fact. The current options locally to get a football fix are somewhat yawn inducing.
The Chiefs finished up their mandatory mini-camp recently but nothing interesting or note worthy came of that. Quite possibly the biggest Chiefs story from the last month was their signing of trick shot quarterback Alex Tanney who has virtually zero chance of making the 53 man roster.
If you move over to check out the Kansas City Command arena team you will find them mired down in the bottom of the standings of the AFL. With a record of 2-10 it is hard for a fan to be too excited about investing the time and money to head to Sprint Center to watch another likely loss.
This lack of local football options leaves fans with virtually no choice but to look to north of the border to get their fix. Yes I am talking about the Canadian Football League where the field is both wider and longer and some guy named Casey Printers was once awarded the Most Outstanding Player.
While some may laugh at the prospect of watching the CFL the league does feature many former KU and Kansas State players as well as some individuals from local MIAA schools that could give a person a rooting interest to check it out. If you are an individual who prefers to pick a favorite team to cheer for you will have a plethora of options as every team's roster features at least one player who played collegiately near Kansas City.
Kansas State boasts a total of five players, Yamon Figurs, Deon Murphy, Tearrius George, Troy Butler & Kevin Huntley, currently listed on rosters of five different teams. The most recognizable name out of that group is likely Figurs who signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in April of this year.
As a senior at K-State, Figurs earned All-Big 12 first team honors as a return specialist but he will likely be remembered most for his outstanding performance against Texas in the Wildcats home upset of the Longhorns in 2006. After being selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the third round of the 2007 draft Figurs bounced around to a few other NFL teams before heading to Canada.
It would seem that Figurs should feel comfortable joining the Eskimos receiving corp as the team also employs Marcus Henry who played at KU and with the New York Jets plus they recently signed Cordarol Scales who played in the MIAA for Fort Hays State University. It is somewhat hard to believe that a CFL team could have three players at the same position whom all played their college ball in the state of Kansas.
The other former Jayhawks who have matriculated up north in addition to Henry are defensive backs Isiah Barfield and Raymond Brown along with standout running back Jon Cornish.
A native of Canada, Cornish finished his career at KU by setting the single season all time rushing mark with 1,457 yards. He was the leading rusher in the Big 12 and earned 1st Team All-Big 12 honors as a senior. After going undrafted by the NFL he was taken with the 13th pick in the 2006 CFL draft by the Calgary Stampeders where he is currently the starting running back.
Some of the other local players making a go of it in the CFL include former University of Central Missouri running back Anthony Stewart and former Pittsburg State defensive back Geoff Tisdale.
Currently the eight team CFL is in the middle of their preseason which consists of only two games for every organization. This is one area where CFL fans definitely have an advantage over NFL fans as they are not forced to wait through four games for real action to begin.
In addition to the size of the field there are many other rule changes which does make the game slightly different from its American counterpart. The most obvious example is the amount of downs that the offense has to try and get a first down. In the CFL the offense only gets three downs instead of four so there is an increased emphasis on the passing game as well as special teams.
Now if you simply are not interested in watching the CFL to catch up on some former local players there is another very compelling reason: fantasy football. While it is not as easy to find a place to play fantasy for the CFL compared to the NFL, a simple internet search will bring back a few places such as http://www.fantaseh.ca/ where you can either join or create your own league.
So even though the CFL is definitely not as good of a product as the NFL or college football it should be enough to allow you to get through your summer. All CFL games be viewed on ESPN3.