The Safety Position

In the NFL, there are four players in the secondary. Two cornerbacks, and two safeties. The two safeties are called 'strong' safety and 'free' safety depending on where they line up.

In the CFL, there are five players in the secondary. Two cornerbacks, two halfbacks, and a safety.

So why do all the commentators insist on calling a CFL safety a "free safety" ?? There isn't any strong safety to differentiate. . . why can't they just call him a safety ?

wondered that for sometime. perhaps try asking them. guess is the term 'Free' Safety is not dissimilar to a Rover position...meaning the Safety is 'free' to position himself (herself in the case of Stampeder Safety Fraser) in whatever position best suits the offensive lineup...

Most likely it is just a term that has over time become something that it is just refers to as he is free back there and does not have a man. Actually the SAM LB is really not a LB anymore he is really a DB as teams now go with single set backs and 5 receivers he is actually the 5th cover guy and the CFL really only plays 2 LB.

I think it speaks to the assignment rather than the actual position. As in, if the safety is blitzing on the play or crashing down for the run, or picking up the the tight end, those are assignments. If the safety is actually back in cover 1, just reacting to wherever the QB delivers the ball then you could say that his assignment truly is playing free safety on that particular play? But you know, some of these commentators probably don't understand that (Rod Black cough).