FTB: Former Stingers Eschew CFL for NFL

by Admin

This post was originally published in the June 8th, 2010 issue of The Concordian. Please read the original version here.

Over the course of the year, From the Beehive will feature weekly updates on the doings of both current and former Stingers. For the first edition of this column, we take a look at two former Stingers that have recently signed NFL contracts. (Ed note: Special thanks to Katie Brioux for the great graphic above.)

Football is taken much more seriously by our neighbours to the south. Over 100 programs exist in what is now called the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), where many college athletes are often given false hope regarding their likelihood of future NFL success. Millions of dollars are awarded to teams as part of television contracts, and certain teams attract over 100,000 fans a game. Clearly, the NCAA and Canada’s CIS are quite different in more ways than one.

As a result, players from both collegiate leagues are bred mainly to succeed in their respective country. This is done by forcing them to play to that country’s professional league’s rules (i.e. three downs in CFL/CIS as opposed to four, plus a larger field). Sometimes this makes transitioning to the other league extremely difficult, especially for the rare few athletes who go from Canadian colleges and universities to the NFL. Despite all the odds seemingly stacked against them, Stingers linebacker Cory Greenwood and offensive lineman Kristian Matte have both managed to find an NFL home with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, respectively.

Credit: Stephan Jahanshahi

Greenwood ready to lay out an opponent. Credit: Stephan Jahanshahi

Credit: Vladimir Pavlicik

Matte (57) set to block. Credit: Vladimir Pavlicik

Though neither of the two were drafted in April’s seven-round NFL draft, both went high in the CFL draft. Greenwood, third overall to the Toronto Argonauts, and Matte, seventh overall to the Montreal Alouettes, were joined by receiver Cory Watson, who went ninth to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While Watson looks to pursue his professional career with the CFL, Greenwood and Matte are both moving to greener pastures. While the two are by no means guaranteed to make the roster once the season starts in September, the experience and the chance makes it an easy decision. Both will have their rights retained by their CFL teams, and should they be cut, would likely be welcomed with open arms.

But will they make their teams? Can two Canadian boys crack the rosters of teams filled with athletes that have been playing four downs their whole lives? A strong possibility exists. Both players may be considered small by NFL standards, with Greenwood’s 235 lbs. usually the size of an outside linebacker, not an inside one like himself. Still, his impressive workout numbers (24 reps of 225 lbs, 40 inch vertical, and a 4.5 40-yard dash), will certainly give him at least a chance at a roster spot with the Chiefs’ Patriots-inspired defence. Matte also has questions about his size, despite standing at 6-4, 296 lbs. His versatility, and ability to play all three positions on the inside of the offensive line (two guards, centre) allows him the potential to fill a huge weak spot in one of the NFL’s best offenses.

With organized team activities (OTAs) and other “mini-camps” being held in advance of training camp and the exhibition season, the two players will be given many opportunities to do what so many have only dreamed can be done.