Several NFL coaches, players, owners and general managers involved in this year’s tournament have ties to Canada.
In addition to the two native Canadians who will see action on the field in the 2013 NFL playoffs, the Canadian content in this year’s tournament includes one of the league’s most successful owners and a star quarterback who was once drafted by the Montreal Expos.
* Broncos offensive tackle Orlando Franklin, one of the top tackles selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, learned his football fundamentals over several seasons with the Ontario Varsity Football League’s Scarborough Thunder.
* Franklin’s boss, Broncos Owner and General Manager Pat Bowlen, is a Canadian citizen. Bowlen was born in Wisconsin but raised in Alberta. Bowlen, now in his 29th year as owner of the Broncos, is a member of the Alberta Bar Association, the Law Society of Alberta, and was once a minority owner of the NHL Calgary Flames.
* Seahawks punter Jon Ryan is a native of Saskatchewan. The former University of Regina Ram’s 45.9 yard average led the CIS in 2003.
* Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff is a graduate of the University of Guelph. Dimitroff, who has twice been named NFL executive of the year, played Defensive Back for the Gryphons from 1987-1989.
* Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson played for the Toronto Argonauts in 1997, and served as a Pro Scout for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1998.
* New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady’s ability as a catcher led to his being drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft.
* Several Patriots coaches and executives also have ties to Canada. Strength and Conditioning Coach Harold Nash was a defensive back in the Canadian Football League for 11 seasons (1994-2004). He was a three-time all-star and recorded a total of 367 tackles and 24 interceptions while playing for the Shreveport Pirates (1994-95), Montreal Alouettes (1996-99), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1999-2003) and Edmonton Eskimos (2004). Special Teams Coach Scott O’Brien played for the Toronto Argonauts in 1980, and Senior Football Advisor Floyd Reese played for the Montreal Alouettes in 1970.
* Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements also has CFL ties. Clements played Quarterback for 12 years in Canada, capturing the CFL Rookie of the Year award in 1975 and guiding two teams (Ottawa in 1976, Winnipeg in 1984) to Grey Cup championships.
* Baltimore Ravens Secondary Coach Terry Austin also played football in Canada, but not in the CFL. Austin played for the World League of American Football’s Montreal Machine franchise in 1991.