The Monarchs of the CFL

The Monarchs of the CFL
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The Monarchs of the CFL. What can we mean by that? The great and the good? Players who have made it to the Hall of Fame, just like the Class of 2021? Well, no. This is a little more niche than that.

It is the 30th anniversary of the NFL launching the World League of American Football this year. From kickoff weekend on the 23rd March of 1991, to World Bowl 91 on the 9th of June, the London Monarchs were a cut above.

Before the rise of the NFL international series they were the Pro team that we got to see play competitive games in the UK. And, because of the 30 year anniversary, and because of my love of the CFL it got me to thinking. Were there any players on that 1991 World Bowl winning roster that also played for a Grey Cup champion team?

It is hard to keep track of these things sometimes. We looked at players with Grey Cup and Super Bowl wins in their career. But it is harder to track who won a pre Super Bowl era NFL title and Grey Cup. Just as it is hard to track players who won a World Bowl in WLAF or NFLEurope, and were on a Grey Cup winning squad.

The Crossover Players

To narrow things down, rather than looking for every player that won a World Bowl and played for a Grey Cup winner, I looked at the first WLAF champions in isolation. Were any of those triumphant London Monarchs also monarchs of the CFL?

The first thing to note was that of that 46 man squad, a few did indeed have CFL experience. There were a few who never made it onto a Grey Cup Squad however.

LB Marlon Brown had played for the 6-11-1 BC Lions in 1990, registering 3 sacks. Not to be confused with the WR Marlon Brown who bounced around the NFL in the mid 2010’s.

DT Steve Gabbard registered a couple of tackles for the first ever CFL US expansion team, the 6-12 Sacramento Gold Miners in 1993.

RB Judd Garrett was a Swiss army knife style player who appeared for the 5-13 Las Vegas Posse in 1994. He appeared in 8 games, registering 50 carries for 232 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, completed 1 pass for 20 yards and had 9 receptions for 105 yards.

QB Stan Gelbaugh who led the Monarchs to success had previoulsy appeared in the CFL. In 1986 he had punted for the 6-11-1 Saskatchewan Roughriders, having 45 punts for a 40.6 yard average. He had also been a backup QB but did not throw a pass.

DT Roy Hart was on the books of both the Hamiltion Tiger-Cats and Las Vegas Posse. In 1993 he recorded 27 tackles and 2 sacks for a 6-12 Hamilton team.

WR Jon Horton appeared for the 12-6 1987 BC Lions. that season he had 1 rushing carry for 5 yards and 2 catches covering 20 yards.

DB Ricky Royal appeared for the 3-15 1991 Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A team for which he logged 19 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 sack.

7 players who appeared in the CFL, however briefly, but were not monrachs of the CFL by the definition created here. That is a World Bowl Champion with the London Monarchs, and on a Grey Cup winning squad – however briefly.

Three players from the 1991 Monarchs however did fit this description.

Monarchs of the CFL

So who were the few who made it from World Bowl Champion with the 1991 London Monarchs to appearing, however briefly, on a Grey Cup winning squad in the CFL? Of the 46 man squad, only 3 achieved this; Corris Ervin, Virgil Robertson, and Irvin Smith. Let’s take a closer look.

Corris Ervin

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Corris D’Angelo Ervin had played CB/DB for Central Florida in college and had a pro career running between 1991 & 1998. During that career he was with the Orlando Predators, Tampa Bay Storm, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Shreveport Pirates, Baltimore Stallions, Toronto Argonauts, London Monarchs and Scottish Claymores.

He was on the Monarchs World Bowl Champion squad in 1991. And on the Stallions roster for both of their CFL seasons. In 1995, the Stallions 15-3 World Bowl winning season, Ervin had 5 tackles (4 on Defence and 1 on Special Teams).

Virgil Robertson

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Virgil Terrell Robertson was an LB out of Nicholls State. His playing career ran between 1990 and 1998 and saw him turn out for the BC Lions, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and London Monarchs.

On the Monarchs World Bowl Champion squad in 1991. Robertson also appeared on the 11-6-1, 1994 Grey Cup champions BC Lions roster during the season. That year Robertson had 40 tackles (36 on Defence and 4 on Special Teams). As well as 3 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 fumble recovries 1 of which was returned for a touchdown.

Irvin Smith

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Irvin Smith is the last of our monarchs of the CFL. Smith, a DB out of Maryland, played professionally from 1991 to 2001. During his career he made apperances with the Montreal Alouettes, Baltimore Stallions and 1991 World Bowl winning London Monarchs.

It was while with the Stallions, as a teammate of Ervin, that he appeared for a Grey Cup winning squad. During that season he had 2 punt returns for 17 yards. Also making 25 defensive tackles, with 1 interception and 1 sack.

So there, we have it – our Monarchs of the CFL. Now I wonder how many, (if any), Sacramento Surge players (winners of world Bowl 92) went on to a Grey Cup winning squad?

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