May 30, 2006. 01:00 AM
Over the years, many American football stars have come north to play in the CFL, either because they weren't drafted by the NFL, wouldn't sign or couldn't make it. Some players have succeeded; many have failed. Here's a look at some of them:
Doug Flutie: Winner of the Heisman Trophy as top U.S. collegian in 1984, the quarterback played briefly in the old U.S.F.L. and for a couple of NFL teams but made his name with the B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders and, of course, the Argos, winning three Grey Cups before returning to the NFL. Recently retired.
Raghib (Rocket) Ismail: The Argos created a huge stir when they signed the Notre Dame wide receiver, runner-up in the Heisman Trophy race of 1990, for a whopping $3.5 million a year. He helped the Argos win a Grey Cup but played only two years before going to the NFL.
Mark Gastineau: A star defensive end with the New York Jets, he was put on the suspended list after leaving the team during the 1988 season. He was signed by the B.C. Lions but was injured after only a few games and was released.
Joe Kapp: He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy race but didn't get taken in the 1959 NFL draft until round 18. He came north to Calgary, then became a star with the B.C. Lions before going to the NFL and playing a leading role for the Minnesota Vikings.
Tom Cousineau: The first player taken in the 1979 NFL draft, the Ohio State linebacker instead signed a rich deal with Montreal. He played three years for the Als, then was a solid player in the NFL.
Dexter Manley: A star defensive end in the NFL, Manley was suspended after failing four drug tests. He played five games for Ottawa in 1992-93.
Vince Ferragamo: An All-American quarterback, Ferragamo started for the Rams in Super Bowl XIV but was lured north by a big contract. He was a bust with Montreal in 1981 and returned to the NFL after just one year.
Joe Theismann: A Heisman runner-up, the Notre Dame QB was a fourth-round NFL pick but opted to play for the Argos. He led the Boatmen to a 10-4 record in 1971 before losing to Calgary in the Grey Cup. He returned to the NFL in 1974 and starred for the Washington Redskins.
Johnny Rodgers: A first-round draft pick in the NFL, he signed with Montreal and played for the Als from 1973 to 1977, helping them win a Grey Cup. He went back to the NFL in 1977 and was quickly injured and out of football.