Refugee running backs in the CFL

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jun 01, 2006



By Cold, Hard Football Facts senior writer John Dudley
 
Here is a look at four backs who have attempted to use the CFL as a springboard back to an NFL career. All four – John Avery, Troy Davis, Robert Edwards and Lawrence Phillips – have failed to return, though they have found success in Canada. See the main story here.
 
John Avery
Best Year
Team
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL (1998)
Dolphins
16
143
503
3.5
2
CFL (2002)
Eskimos
18
229
1,448
6.3
9
 
Career
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL
29
149
524
3.5
2
CFL
48
540
2,948
5.5
15
 
Although Avery was a first-round pick out of Ole Miss in 1998 (No. 29 overall), his tenure with Miami was brief. One game into his second year, he was traded to Denver. After barely playing with the Broncos, he went on to become the leading rusher for both the XFL (in 2001) and CFL (in 2002). His one season in Edmonton produced the highest rushing total ever recorded by a first-year player.
 
Avery parlayed his success with the two lesser leagues into another NFL gig, but his offensive impact was negligible. In six games with Minnesota in 2003, he had just one carry and two receptions. Returning to the CFL, Avery powered the Argonauts to a Grey Cup victory in 2004. He is entering his third season with the team, fully aware that Williams will be getting most of the carries.
 
Troy Davis
Best Year
Team
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL (1997)
Saints
16
75
271
3.6
0
CFL (2004)
Tiger-Cats
18
324
1,628
5.0
10
 
Career
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL
46
150
446
3.0
1
CFL
79
1,117
5,655
5.1
32
 
After consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons at Iowa State, Davis was a third-round selection of New Orleans in 1997. He got seven starts as a rookie, but his numbers were meager – and they only declined from there. He never ran for 50 yards in a game, and the 1999 arrival of Williams hastened the end of his three-year career.
 
Since joining the CFL, however, Davis has been a force. In 2004, he led the league in rushing while playing for Hamilton. He was traded to Edmonton near the end of this past season, and he will now be seeking his fifth straight campaign of over 1,000 yards rushing.
 
Robert Edwards
Best Year
Team
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL (1998)
Patriots
16
291
1,115
3.8
9
CFL (2005)
Alouettes
14
187
1,199
6.4
8
 
Career
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL
28
311
1,212
3.9
9
CFL
14
187
1,199
6.4
8
 
New England drafted Edwards out of Georgia with the 18th overall pick in 1998. As a rookie, he became the first player in NFL history to score a touchdown in each of his first six games. He finished the season with 1,446 combined yards and 12 total TDs, but a devastating knee injury suffered during the Beach Bowl in Hawaii brought his promising career to an abrupt halt.
 
Tireless rehabilitation enabled Edwards to return to the NFL for one season. He served as Williams' backup on the Dolphins in 2002, but his greater accomplishments have come north of the border. Last year, he finished third in the CFL in rushing and helped Montreal advance to the Grey Cup, where it lost to Edmonton. He is currently preparing for his second season with the Alouettes.
 
Lawrence Phillips
Best Year
Team
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL (1997)
Rams/Dolphins
12
201
677
3.4
8
CFL (2002)
Alouettes
15
187
1,022
5.5
13
 
Career
Games
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TDs
NFL
35
424
1,453
3.4
14
CFL
23
294
1,508
5.1
14
 
Phillips helped secure a repeat national championship for Nebraska by rushing for 165 yards and scoring three touchdowns in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Earlier that season, he had been suspended for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, including dragging her down the stairs by her hair. Despite his criminal history, Phillips was drafted by the Rams with the sixth overall pick, but he wouldn't last two seasons in St. Louis.
 
Insubordination and off-field troubles plagued Phillips throughout his professional career, which was highlighted by a Grey Cup championship with Montreal in 2002. His latest offense occurred less than a year ago, when he drove a car into three teenagers who argued with him during a pickup football game. That incident added "attempted murder" to his ever-growing rap sheet, which can be found here. Phillips' antics even grew tiresome in the CFL, where he last played in 2003. Needless to say, the NFL hasn't come calling.

From our partners




Team Pages
AFC East NFC
South
North
West

Connect With Us
Sign up for our newsletter to recieve all the latest news and updates...




The Football Nation Network

© Copyright 2014 Football Nation LLC. Privacy Policy & Terms of Use   Logout
Some images property of Getty Images or Icon/SMI