CFL players weigh in on the new footballs introduced for 2018 season

The league rolled out a new football this season with harder leather, slightly larger circumference.

Some CFL players noticed subtle changes in the feel of the football at training camps this year.

Others were oblivious and were surprised when informed the league has introduced new balls.

The CFL rolled out a new football this season with harder leather and a slightly larger circumference.

The NFL’s Wilson ball — inscribed with the name ‘The Duke” in honour of football legend Wellington (Duke) Mara — was tested by the CFL last year.

The new CFL Wilson ball has the same laces and markings as the previous version, but the leather of The Duke.

“It’s just a nicer leather,” Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said.

“I think they come out of the box nicer. The biggest thing with the nicer leather is it wears in faster and it’s a better hold to it to me. The other ones, when they wore down they really were worn down.”

Quarterbacks had their hands on the new footballs the most in CFL training camps.

“It feels a little more aerodynamic, but it’s nothing crazy,” B.C. Lions quarterback Jon Jennings said.

When the CFL announced the ball overhaul in March, senior director of football operations Ryan Janzen said Wilson believes the leather holds pebble better.

“Once I did realize they were the new balls, I kind of compared them next to each other,” Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols said.

“I think they probably have a little bit better grip, at least for the way that I like them.”

Saskatchewan Roughrider quarterback Brandon Bridge hopes the new ball will be easier to hang on to in wet weather.

“The old CFL balls, it was just so hard to even get a grip of,” he said. “The NFL ball is pretty good whenever it rains.”

Montreal Alouettes receiver Chris Williams noticed a distinct difference between the feel and size of the old and new editions.

“You can definitely tell it’s a little bit harder than the other one,” he said. “As a receiver, it just makes us focus even more because it’s coming and it’s going to be hard and you’d better catch it for your safety.

“A little bigger. For me it helps. I can see it a little bit easier and it’s more surface area to catch, easier on the hands and all that. I like it so far.”

The Canadian ball is inscribed with the name of CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. An official CFL ball retails for $135.

Stampeder receiver Marken Michel says he doesn’t notice a difference when Mitchell throws to him because he caught NFL balls in off-season training.

Canadian teammate Anthony Parker also said the ball felt the same to him.

“To be honest, when Bo is throwing you that ball, they always feel hard,” Parker said. “They look the same, they feel the same, but apparently the guys not wearing gloves do notice it a little bit.”

Lions quarterback Travis Lulay was among those in the don’t-care camp when it came to the new balls.

“If you hadn’t said anything, I don’t think I would know (there’s been a change),” Lulay said.

“I’ve never been one of those guys who are super particular about the balls, and I’ve tried to train myself that way, because I hate when I get into a game and the ball feels foreign.”

It’s been the laces, not the leather, that’s forced American quarterbacks to adjust their grip upon arrival in Canada.

“That’s a huge difference because the CFL lace is a raised rubber and the NFL lace is very low on the ball,” explained Calgary quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who was a rookie last season.

“The ball at the beginning may feel big in the CFL because the laces are raising your hand on the ball.”

— Bill Beacon in Montreal, Judy Owen in Winnipeg, Darren Steinke in Saskatoon and Lowell Ullrich in Kamloops, B.C., contributed to this story.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Wetaskiwin Leaders of Tomorrow youth awards kick-off

Nominations now open for Wetaskiwin youth leaders awards

Writer says government’s Bighorn campaign full of dishonesty

Bighorn plan is to destroy land, not protect it

County council hears cannabis info meeting not well attended

Councilors give regular updates on their work at meeting Nov. 6

Lakedell 4-H Beef kids enjoy calf tour January 5

Lakedell 4-H Beef January report

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

PHOTO: Eyes turn to heavens to witness super blood wolf moon

These two photos show the lunar eclipse about 30 minutes apart from each other.

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

WATCH: Team Alberta in Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Most Read