Don’t look now, but a few more ex-NFL players have joined the CFL after Johnny Manziel and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. One thing that needs to be accepted by a lot of die hard CFL supporters too, it isn’t bad for the league or the game either.
So who are these players migrating in the path of Johnny Football?
The ex-Raven running back out of Baltimore is joining up in Hamilton with Manziel in hopes of revitalizing his professional status. A career committee running back, Taliaferro was buried in Baltimore when they couldn’t seem to find a starting running back after the Ray Rice arrest and suspension. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kyle Juszczyk – all are names sure to give Taliaferro nightmares, splitting and stealing opportunities from the young back in Baltimore.
His career season was 2014. In 13 games he rushed for four touchdowns but just 293 yards that season, with a avg yards per carry of 4.3. Not excpetional but stats that show just how much of a committee back he was. At 26 years old Taliaferro still has a lot to give, and will bring with him three years of NFL experience. Hamilton will get a back with something to prove, and a companion for Manziel who knows the NFL struggle.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are adding former third round pick from the then St. Louis Rams, Tre Mason. Loads of potential and only 24 Mason’s issues were never really on the field, but more discipline issues that slammed his promising career short. For Mason it appears that the lifestyle of a celebrity athlete overwhelmed him mentally and eventually led to issues with the law.
His career fell off a cliff with mental health issues related to his lifestyle, and after being cut by the Rams no other team wanted to take a shot on him. In his rookie years in 2014 Mason rushed for 765 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 100+ yard games. His production significantly dropped in his second year as the issues with his personal life started to compound and effect his play.
What Mason will get in Saskatchewan is the exact opposite of a lavish, highroller lifestyle. The prairies lack a lot of Big City accouterments and will isolate him from a lot of distraction allowing him to focus on his game. This move looks good for both sides really – Mason gets the chance to focus in on his game again and the Riders have an opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle with a dynamic back who has hopefully grown up.
The CFL offers a lot more than just a career rehabilitation track for ex-NFL players but as far as it goes now, its a symbiotic relationship. Stars will pull the ever coveted American viewership, and the league’s different rule set will allow for some stars to flourish. Will the pilgrimage continue for ex-NFLers? As long as Mason, Talaiferro, and Manziel look good I would imagine we’ll see some more big names North of the boarder!