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Best Canadian Players In NFL History

Known mainly for hockey, maple syrup, Tim Horton’s coffee, and the CFL, many football fans will be surprised that several Canadian football players have made an impact on the NFL.

Although the NHL and three-down football reign supreme on the northern side of the border, there have been numerous Canadian-born players who have found and continue to find success in the NFL. You can find more information about NFL odds and teams on the ClutchBuzz website and sportsbook.

As of last season, there were thirty active Canadians on NFL rosters with seventeen possessing Super Bowl rings, led by Roy Gerela’s (Sarrail, Alberta) three championships in five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bronko Nagurski: Rainy River, Ontario

Following three seasons with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in which he played fullback and both tackle positions (offense and defense), twenty-two-year-old Nagurski joined the Chicago Bears in 1930. In nine years with the Bears, Nagurski etched his name into the team’s record books as one of the 100 Greatest Bears of all time. A member of the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame, a three-time NFL champion, four-time All-Pro, and a rushing touchdown leader, Nagurski also found time to become a professional wrestler, becoming the NWA World Champion.

Mike Vanderjagt: Oakville, Ontario

Kickers aren’t the most popular players on the field, often regulated behind the third-string quarterback and the waterboy in terms of coolness. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to the game. After spending five seasons in the CFL and the Arena Football League, Vanderjagt, a placekicker and punter, signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent in 1998. One of the most accurate kickers of all time, connecting on 85% of his field goals, Vanderjagt missed just two point-after-touchdown kicks in his career.

Laurent Dauvernay-Tardif: Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec

A mountain of a man, standing 6’5”, 320lbs, was drafted by two teams in two different leagues in the span of a week. Selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Dauvernay-Tardif would also be picked by the Calgary Stampeders in the third round of the CFL Draft. Starting 38 of 41 games during the first three years with the Chiefs, Dauvernay-Tardif suffered a fractured fibula in his fourth season. Bouncing back in 2019 to help the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV, Dauvernay-Tardif would be traded to the New York Jets in 2021, before announcing his retirement in 2023. 

Eddie Murray: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Born on the East Coast, but raised in Victoria, BC, Murray went from working in a lumber yard after high school to attending Tulane University. After four years of kicking for the Green Wave, Murray would be selected for the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the 1980 NFL Draft, and also the third round of the CFL Draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Over the course of his twenty years in the NFL, Murray suited up for seven different teams, including two stints with the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Just five years after driving a forklift and playing Junior League football, Murray was named an NFL First-Team All-Pro. In 1994, Murray helped the Cowboys to a convincing 30-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII, kicking three field goals.

Mitch Berger: Kamloops, British Columbia

While Berger may have been seen as a journeyman punter, playing for eleven teams (twice signed by the Chicago Bears) throughout his sixteen-year career, the good thing is that it means eleven teams wanted him on their roster (he would only be a practice roster player for four of those teams).

Selected in the sixth round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, Berger would find himself on the move five times before securing a roster spot as the Minnesota Vikings punter. In 2008, on his tenth team, Berger would help the Pittsburgh Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XLIII.

Mark Rypien: Calgary, Alberta

Three years after he was born, Mark Rypien and his family moved to Spokane, Washington.

Following an award-winning high school career, Rypien moved on to play for the Washington State Cougars, before being selected by the Washington Redskins with their sixth-round pick in the 1986 NFL Draft.

During his fourteen-year NFL career, Rypien would suit up for six different teams (with two stints in St. Louis). Rypien would win two Super Bowl rings with the Redskins, his first as a backup and then as the starting QB in Super Bowl XXVI where he would also be named the game’s MVP. Mark’s nephew, Brett Rypien, is now a quarterback for the NFL Chicago Bears.

Nate Burleson: Calgary, Alberta

He may not have the hardware that others on this list have, but the wide receiver / kick returner, who was picked by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 2003 draft is one of the most prolific Canadian-born NFL receivers of all time. In 135 games split between the Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Detroit Lions over the course of eleven years, Burleson finished with 39 touchdowns and 5,630 yards.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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