Is Anthony Calvillo the best quarterback to ever step foot on a CFL field?
Well, it’s tough to argue otherwise, at least based on statistics. Any league records that have “most” attached to them — the good ones, anyway — have Calvillo’s name beside them. Most career passing yards, most career TD passes, most career completions, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, he’s good. But the best ever? Check out our list of the top 10 quarterbacks in CFL history to find out.
10. Dieter Brock
Call him Dieter, call him Ralph. But whatever you do, call Brock a revolutionary. The former Blue Bombers (and Tiger-Cats) quarterback set the league on its ear when he brought his Alabama drawl north of the border. The Birmingham Rifle was, unquestionably, one of the first true gunslingers the league had ever seen. Though he threw for almost 35,000 yards during his CFL career, Brock never won the Grey Cup.
9. Ken Ploen
Ploen had the pedigree when he joined the Blue Bombers in 1957, having led Iowa to a Rose Bowl win that year, and he didn’t disappoint. With Ploen at the helm, the Bombers went to the Grey Cup six times, winning four. You won’t find his name among the top 30 passers in CFL history, but Ploen epitomized the phrase, “Just win, baby.” Oh, did I mention he also played a bit of defensive back, too?
8. Russ Jackson
Jackson was the best of a breed that no longer exists in the CFL — the Canadian quarterback. During 12 years with the Ottawa Rough Riders, Jackson won the Grey Cup three times and was named the league’s top player on four occasions. Although he signed with Ottawa as a defensive back, Jackson passed for more than 24,000 yards and ran for another 5,000. No other Canadian QB, of which there have been few, comes close to the numbers Jackson put up.
7. Danny McManus
Danny Mac, a product of Florida State, wasn’t the flashiest quarterback to play three-down football but he was darn good. A prototypical dropback passer (he ran for just 426 yards during a 17-year career; do the math), McManus passed for 53,255 yards, the fourth-best total in CFL history, and 259 touchdowns. He also won the Grey Cup three times, with Winnipeg (’90), B.C. (’94) and Hamilton (’99).
6. Matt Dunigan
Dunigan wasn’t big on long-term commitment during his 14-year career — he suited up for six different teams — but he brought that cocky swagger you’d expect from a hired gun. He twice won the Grey Cup and finished with nearly 44,000 passing yards. In 1994, playing for Winnipeg, Dunigan had a game for the ages, passing for a record 713 yards (yes, 713) and five touchdowns in a 50-35 win over Edmonton.
5. Ron Lancaster
Lancaster, known as the Little General, was fond of saying “stats are for losers.” Well, his stats were unparalleled when he retired in 1978 — he was the first QB in CFL history to top 50,000 career passing yards — but Lancaster was anything but a loser. During 16 seasons with Saskatchewan, Lancaster won 170 games and the Green Riders had just one losing season, his last. And that, not his diminutive stature, was the true measure of Lancaster.
4. Warren Moon
It’s scary to think what Moon might have done had he stuck around the CFL more than six years before heading off to the NFL. With the Edmonton Eskimos, Moon won five consecutive Grey Cup titles (1978-82). Granted, he sometimes shared the gig with Tom Wilkinson (another Canadian Football Hall of Famer) but, sheesh, anyone who remembers the Eskimos of that era knows Moon was The Man.
3. Damon Allen
There probably was a time Allen would have been considered No. 1. He could beat you with his arm or his legs. He was the league’s career passing leader when he retired in 2007. But he’s also third on the league’s career rushing list, with nearly 12,000 yards, and has some of the game’s best runners looking up at him. Allen’s four Grey Cup wins, with three different teams, puts him near the top of the class.
2. Anthony Calvillo
Sure, the numbers don’t lie. Calvillo is the best of the best in so many categories and he’s a feel-good story to boot — remember, he’s less than a year removed from having surgery for a cancerous lesion on his throat. But for all the records he holds, Calvillo has won the Grey Cup on just two occasions, the same number as Tracy Ham and Kent Austin, neither of whom are on this list.
1. Doug Flutie
Flutie was an undersized NFL washout when he signed with the B.C. Lions in 1990. Eight years later, when Flutie headed back to the NFL, he practically owned the CFL record book. Six times he was named the league’s most outstanding player. And he didn’t just put up gawdy numbers, he got results. After struggling in his first season, Flutie went 99-27 over the next seven years and won the Grey Cup three times. ‘Nuff said.
By DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency