2013 CFHOF Profile: Brian Fryer

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The status of football in Canada has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years with more and more players moving to the NFL. These players are lucky to be living in a time were Canada is a place to look for emerging talent. It was not always like that though as the teams in the USA would not consider Canada a place to find talent. Despite the fact that Canada had helped to create the sport and convert it from Rugby, the first “Gridiron Football” game was played in 1861 and involved the University of Toronto, the country does not get the credit for establishing the sport. This can mean that teams overlook Canada when it comes to talent even if Canadians have been playing it longer. Although it is beginning to change there is still a lot of prejudice against the Canadian game stating athletes that play in the CFL are simply not good enough for the NFL. The game is alive in Canada though and there is plenty of talent that can play in any league and many people are just noticing it now. The major move to seeing Canada as a talent pool began in the NCAA when top players from Canadian high schools would get walk-on spots and scholarships from big Division-I schools in the NCAA. The shift has turned slightly to players that have stayed in Canada as NFL teams have started to look to the CIS for talent. It is not an entirely new process though as there were players who had made it to the NFL from a great career in the CIS. There always has to be a first though and that was Brian Fryer who would break open the doors after being drafted by the Washington Redskins from the University of Alberta.

Brian Fryer would be the first player that had grown up and played in the Canadian system to be drafted into the NFL. As a member of the Alberta Golden Bears, Fryer would get the attention of the Redskins by being one of the best receivers in the league. Fryer would change the way that receivers were used in the CIS, then called the CIAU, becoming the first receiver to catch for over 1,000 yards in a season. He would also break the record for most yards in a game with 227 and scoring five all-purpose yards in one game. After this career performance in Canadian University Fryer would be drafted by the Washington Redskins late in the 1976 draft. Making the team out of training camp Fryer would become a kick returner and would look like a good prospect. Injuries would put him on the injury list for the second year and his NFL career would end there. He would not make a big impact on the NFL officially catching no passes for his two years as a part of the Washington roster but he did show that it was possible to be noticed from the Canadian ranks. After his brief time in the NFL, Fryer would sign with the Edmonton Eskimos returning to his home province of Alberta. Fryer would join the best team in the CFL and possibly the best team in the history of the game in the 1970s/80s Edmonton Eskimos. It was not necessarily a good thing for Fryer who spent the majority of his CFL career sitting behind Tom Scott, Waddell Smith, and Brian Kelly. Still Fryer would contribute and eventually became a fourth member of the big three receivers that Warren Moon would use to win Grey Cups. The Eskimos would win the Grey Cup 5-times in a row as a member of the Eskimos and a part of Warren Moon’s air raid. Fryer is known a lot more for his CIS career than his CFL career but everywhere he went in Canadian football. Being the first player from the CIS to be drafted into the NFL along with his dominance in the CIS and his involvement in 5 Grey Cups with Edmonton make him a great addition to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

 

Brian Fryer, WR (1972-1985)
136 rec
2,655 yds
– 1975 Hec Crighton Winner
– 2-Time All-Canadian (1974-1975)
– 5-Time Grey Cup Champion (1978-1982)
– Played majority of career with Alberta Golden Bears (CanWest) and Edmonton Eskimos (CFL)
– Also Played for Ottawa Rough Riders
– Currently the Executive Director of Football Alberta

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