Football is widely considered America’s sport. There is no questioning the passion Americans have for the game, and they are certainly the dominant cohort in the NFL. But that doesn’t mean they stand alone in their love for the game. Canadians love the NFL. They gamble on underdogs and favourites in sportsbooks like BetRivers Canada. They tune into RedZone on Sundays. And they also play the sport at a high level.
Many Canadians have made their mark on the NFL over the years. While none have ascended to an MVP level, many have been solid players, and more arrive in the draft every year. Let’s take a quick look at some Canadians who have made their mark on the league.
Chase Claypool originates from British Columbia and has risen from Abbotsford to the pros. Claypool shined at Notre Dame before being selected in the second round and looking like a rising star for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie. Claypool had eleven touchdowns in his first season in the league, but the wheels have come off for him recently. He was traded to Chicago last year, where he didn’t do much. But Claypool is only 25 and has a real opportunity to carve out a major role in Chicago.
Nate Burleson was born in Calgary and became a star at the University of Nevada, Reno. Burleson made it into the NFL as a third-round pick and found significant success with the Minnesota Vikings. In his second year in the league, Burleson had 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns. Injuries became a problem for Burleson, but he still compiled several other high-quality seasons for franchises like the Seahawks and the Lions. He has gone on to find success after playing as a broadcaster and media personality.
Mark Rypien is another Calgary local who blossomed into a high-level NFL performer. He has likely had the most decorated career of any Canadian. Rypien played football at Washington State before being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by Washington. He was injured for the first couple of seasons of his career before taking over as the starter. He was a solid performer for the team for several seasons, with his best year, the 1991 season, resulting in a dominant showing. Washington went 14-2, won the Super Bowl, and Rypien took home the Super Bowl MVP. It was the high note of a quality career.
Austin Collie is something of a what-if. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, played his college ball at Brigham Young University, and was a record-setting receiver for the team. He was taken in the fourth round by the Indianapolis Colts to serve as one of Peyton Manning’s weapons, and he immediately found success. In his rookie year, he had 676 yards and seven touchdowns. He was on a much better track in his second year before injuries slowed him down. This became a theme throughout his career, and Collie retired early. But he was a gifted, reliable player when healthy.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has had a unique NFL career. He played college at McGill but still ended up on the NFL radar and was picked by the Chiefs in the sixth round. He blossomed into a reliable starter for the team and played a big role on the interior of their offensive line, culminating in a Super Bowl victory. But Duvernay-Tardif is better known for his hobby outside of football. He is a medical doctor who worked diligently during the COVID-19 pandemic and stepped away from the sport to focus on his alternative career helping others. He is a unique Canadian hero.