It happens, oh, every 20 years or so.
A player joins a CFL team, stinks, gets released, is waived through the league and becomes an NFL star.
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Take Bertrand Berry, for example. At 33, Berry is largely responsible for his team’s stunning ascent to Sunday’s Super Bowl. There are no ifs, ands or buts about this. Were it not for his team-high seven sacks and exceptional efforts at defensive end, the Arizona Cardinals would not be in Tampa Bay this week preparing to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for NFL supremacy.
It’s bizarre, frankly, since the Edmonton Eskimos soured on Berry after a mere two games in 2000. In eight quarters, Berry recorded one tackle and no sacks. In the inferior CFL, he was both inconspicuous and incompetent. So into the scrap heap he was dumped, practically penniless, deemed a has-been and a never-was simultaneously.
And, yet, for the past four seasons, Berry has terrorized opponents and the Cards rewarded him a five-year contract worth US$25-million.
"I remember him disliking Edmonton,” said Berry’s agent, Greg Williams, “but I’m also sure his time there motivated him. He wanted so badly to make it in the NFL.”
He has. Big-time. He’s a discard leading the Cards’ defence and wise NFL observers suggest Arizona can’t prevail Sunday if Berry turns in a lemon.
• Canada's professional football championship will be decided on Albertan grounds the next two seasons. I'm told the CFL will announce formally within a week or so that Edmonton has been awarded the 2010 Grey Cup game. This year's Cup will be played in Calgary. Edmonton has been the site of the championship game three previous times -- 1984, 1997 and 2002...The Oakland Raiders plan to hire a new offensive co-ordinator soon, and atop their wish list is Marc Trestman, who led the Alouettes to the Grey Cup game in Montreal last November in his one and only season as a CFL head coach. . .Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo, the CFL’s premier player last season, is eligible for free agency Feb. 16 and will decide shortly whether to re-sign with the Als or retire. If Trestman jumps to Oakland, Calvillo might retire after 15 CFL seasons. . .Grey Cup ticket prices have risen dramatically. They ranged from $84 to $274 in Montreal. They’ll cost between $195 and $370 in Calgary this season. “I don’t think this (is an issue),” said Stamps president Scott Ackles, who may or may not know there’s a recession. . .Don’t be surprised if ex-Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry joins the Esks soon as offensive co-ordinator. . .Ex-Toronto Argonauts head coach Gary Etcheverry is the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ new defensive co-ordinator. . .Calgary Stampders scout John Murphy is the Blue Bombers’ new general manager.
• In baseball, ex-Blue Jays superstar Roberto Alomar will join Toronto’s spring-training staff and will coach infielders.
Alomar hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, Sandy Alomar Sr., and become a full-time coach or manager.
And the Minnesota Twins are close to signing Canadian Eric Gagne as a setup man for closer Joe Nathan.
Marty York is Metro's national sports columnist as well as an
instructor at the College of Sports Media in Toronto. He can be heard
regularly on Vancouver radio station CKNW with Sportstalk host Dan
Russell. Contact Marty at email@example.com