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Top 15 NFLers You Didn't Realize Played In The CFL

Unlike Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, the National Football League does not currently have its own minor league or developmental league that runs alongside the NFL regular season. NFL teams have practice squads, but those players do not regularly compete against other athletes in meaningful games. Practice squad players are, for the most part, fill-ins for starters who get hurt or who are released by a team for whatever reason. Some may remember when former Ultimate Fighting Championship performer and current World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar Brock Lesnar was offered a spot on the practice squad of the Minnesota Vikings years ago.

Practice squads are not, however, the only option for players who are unable to find a long-term home on a NFL team. The Canadian Football League could be an option for somebody who has been overlooked in a NFL Draft and who was unable to find a team once he entered free agency. While the quality of play in the CFL is undeniably inferior to that one will see on NFL Sundays, the CFL can still be a stepping stone to the NFL for an athlete who has the right frame of mind and who is able to prove to scouts that he can play in the top football competition on the planet.

Former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie may be the most famous success story as it pertains to CFL players making it in the big leagues. Flutie spent several seasons playing up north, and he ultimately received a chance to feature for the Buffalo Bills. While Flutie never won a Super Bowl for the Bills, he did become a popular member among local fans. You probably know, if you are a huge football fan, that Flutie made his name in Canada. There are a plethora of other players that you may not know played in the CFL before you were ever able to watch them wear NFL jerseys.

15 Michael Sam 

via montreal.ctvnews.ca

14 Tyler Clutts 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

13 Andre Rison 

via lombardiinc.com

12 Neiko Thorpe 

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

11 Jerrell Freeman 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

10 Mike Vanderjagt 

via cfl.ca

9 Cordarro Law 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

8 Dontrelle Inman 

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

7 Joe Horn 

via pix-hd.com

6 Andrew Hawkins 

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5 Brandon Browner 

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

4 Ricky Williams 

via ftw.usatoday.com

3 Jon Ryan 

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

2 Joe Theismann 

via ca.sports.yahoo.com

1 Cameron Wake 

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It's not like the New York Giants to miss out on a pass-rusher. That is what happened back in 2005 when the Giants passed on Cameron Wake after having Wake's rights. Wake was not deterred, however, and he spent two seasons up north in the CFL with the BC Lions before the Miami Dolphins came calling. The Dolphins made a wise choice in signing Wake, as Wake has been named to four Pro Bowl squads since signing for Miami. One can only imagine what might have been had the Giants held onto Wake. Perhaps Wake would have been part of those two New York teams that won Super Bowl championships.

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Top 15 NFLers You Didn't Realize Played In The CFL