Best National (Non-Import) CFL Player of All-Time

Forgive me if this has been covered before, but I often see lists for the CFL’s top players of all-time, which often includes the Fluties and Parkers etc., but seldom see anything for the league’s top Canadians of all time.

Who is your choice? Hard to pick one, but my top three would be:

Russ Jackson (a bit before my time, but I respect his numbers, Grey Cup, and a QB to boot!)
Jon Cornish (gaudy career rushing average of 6.7 yards a carry! No doubt he could have played in NFL)
Tony Gabriel (4 time Outstanding Canadian player, and even won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player)

Anthony Micheal Peter Gabriel.

Like all three .

He was non import that really was a import but a spot for Ben Cahoon as receiver as he qualifies under the CFL rules .

In addition to those mentioned above: Chris Walby, Dave Fennell, Lui Passaglia, Roger Aldag, Normie Kwong, Ray Elgaard, Angelo Mosca, Bill Baker, Joe Krol, all of whom are on the TSN Top 50 list (except Cahoon, who only gets an honourable mention, but whose parents were Canadian, and he identifies as Canadian after spending part of his youth in Alberta).

Love all the guys mentioned thus far - RJ Russ Jackson should be heads 'n shoulders above everyone else. Gabriel was a fantastic WR & team player. Would have been a lock to make NFL if he had a tiny bit more open field speed.

Not sure Angela Mosca was a canuck. He might have received canadian citizenship in the 60s to make him eligible once he decided he had no interest in the (then) lower paying NFL.

One big one that got missed in all the brouhaha was Gerry James, the sensational Kid Dynamite who played in both the Stanley Cup (Leafs) and Grey Cup (Bombers) in the early 60s. A deceptively fast Fullback who carried the mail when Leo Lewis was being spied upon - also a relatively competent field goal kicker and convert guy (about the same level as Troy Westwood, 70% competency)

Great stats as a runner. His book points out some of the chronic weaknesses in the Winnipeg CFL organization. Later went on to own junior hockey teams in Sask’n - and coach them, too. A vicious campaigner as a coach/owner - he terrified most refs & officials, nobody wanted to be doing his team’s games!

Can we please not split hairs and quibble about who’s Canadian enough to be considered? If they’re listed as a National they’re eligible. Mosca has lived in Ontario for the vast majority of his life having moved there when he was only 21 (he’s now 82).

Difficult to pick one IMO because of the different era’s and which “National type” we’re talking about.
We have the Canadian University ones like a Russ Jackson or a Mike O’Shea. Then several NCAA trained guys like a Jon Cornish, a Bill Baker or a Jim Corrigal. Then we have the Ben Cahoon’s and Alex Singleton National’s by quirky rules.
I would have to think about that for a good while.

Every player mentioned is from the modern era, albeit some (e.g. Krol) are from the beginning of the modern era.
If you go back far enough nobody is Canadian enough.

Well if naturalized Canadian’s are in the mix. John Barrow would come in ahead of Ang in by books. Then there’s Dick Shatto, Ron Lancaster, Bernie Faloney, Dick Fouts, Johnny Bright, Jackie Parker as well. I was thinking the idea was Canadian born and trained.

I picked Jon Cornish in my top three, but Andrew Harris deserves some love.

If I had to insert one of the them into a game during their prime, I would probably choose Cornish. But 10 years from now, Harris may go down as the best of all-time due to his versatilty (catching passes out of the backfield), durability, and number of games playing at a high level.

Were any of them listed as Nationals?

While I like the idea of allowing American players who have played for “X” number of years for one team (not multiple) to be considered Non-Imports, or Nationals as we call them now, this list should only be the current “National” definition.

Therefore, the Cahoons and Singletons can be considered, but not the Moscas or Barrows.

Seems reasonable, except that Mosca was listed as a Non-import/National. Not sure about Barrow.

In their later years the same as Angelo Mosca.

Barrow was listed as an Import/International, so it’s seem fairly obvious that he would be excluded, as far as I can tell every other one you mentioned was also listed as an International. So it would appear that all EXCEPT Mosca were considered Imports.

This is ridiculous. If they’re listed as a Non-import/National they ought to be eligible. If they were listed as a Import/International they should not be considered. Why make more complicated than it is?

THAT (i.e., “if just a little …”) can be said about a huge number of CFL players … they are generally in the CFL because they lack somethingthey would need to make a NFL roster.

BTW - wasn’t Gabriel allegedly a tight-end? He was truly a slot back (IMO).

Well, because to my understanding, Mosca was an American. Wasn’t he from Massachusetts and attended Notre Dame? I thought he was only considered a “Non-Import” due to a loophole allowed by the league to include “Naturalized Canadians.”

Since this hasn’t been a consistently applied standard throughout league history, and these truly aren’t “National” players regardless of what was allowed at the time, players like Mosca don’t really fit the spirit of the question.

Agree with all choices so far
In the recent REC category
(since my memory is not what it used to be )

Fantuz, who has recently retired
Sinopoli, is very special

might I throw Sean Millington into the mix

I’m thinking that if you’re going to have a discussion on this topic then one would be remiss if they didn’t mention the likes of a Terry Evanshen , Jim “Dirty 30” Young , Rocky DiPietro just to name 3 off the top of my head that would be at the very least Top 10 Considerations .