I recently read a pretty amusing article here as well, so you may want to read it over as well to understand how CFL differs from the NFL.
My favourite team is the Montreal Alouettes. My dad cheered for them when CFL was really big back in the 60s and 70s. It's taken a sideline to the NFL in a lot of places in Canada which is unfortunate since it's a really fantastic game to watch. Hopefully it's surging forward again.
10 Things About the CFL
1. The field
It's wider and longer, and the goalposts are at the front of the end zone, meaning they have and will potentially affect touchdown passes.
2. Missed field goal returns
If a team misses the field goal, the opposing team can get the ball and return it for a touchdown if it did not go out of the endzone. Since there's 20 yards beyond the goalpost, this is a legitimate threat. Watch this one:
3. There's an extra player
Because the field is wider and longer, there are 12 players on each side instead of 11. The hometown fans call themselves the "13th man" since they can help a team by being really loud when the opposing team is trying to accomplish anything on offence.
4. Cross overs in the Playoffs
There are currently 9 teams in the CFL. 5 in the West and 4 in the East. If one conference is particularly great and all the teams are fairly evenly matched, but in the other conference all the teams are pretty bad, the worst team in the better conference could take a playoff spot in the other conference. So you can never just sit back and think you'll make the playoffs no matter what.
Cross over teams have gone on to win the Grey Cup Championship.
5. The Grey Cup
This is the Championship that is played the last weekend of November. The best team from each conference plays, even though that sometimes means 2 teams of the same conference play each other (see above for cross over). This is not the same Earl Grey of tea fame, this is a later Earl Grey who was Governor General of Canada in 1909. He donated the trophy to the league.
6. Gridiron Football was invented in Canada
It was based on rugby and the first rules were adopted 1873. McGill University in Montreal challenged Harvard University to a game in 1874. The American or Burnside rules were adopted in the US in 1903.
7. The Montreal Alouettes play at McGill
They don't play at the same field where gridiron football began, but they still play at McGill. Percival Molson Stadium is at the top of a really tall hill and is a steep climb if you plan on walking. There are free buses you can take if you don't feel up to the trek.
8. Only 3 Downs
The game can get very fast paced when you only have 3 downs to get 10 yards. And you only have a 20 second play clock instead of 40 (I think) in the NFL.
9. You can score a single point on a kick through the end zone
This is called a rouge or a single. It can't happen during a kick off after a scoring play, only as an offensive play. Sometimes you only need one point to win, and as this clip shows, one point can mean the game:
Montreal missed the field goal and a Toronto player blocked the ball from leaving the end zone and kicked it back on to the field. It was caught by the Montreal kicker, who then kicked it back in. In the scrum, Montreal got the ball back and scored a touchdown.
When you score a rouge, the opposing team still gets the ball, it's not like a safety where you get the ball back.
10. Most CFL Teams Have Weird Names
Montreal Alouettes - yes like the song. An Alouette is a skylark. Montreal is often ushered into opposing stadiums with this song
Toronto Argonauts - a.k.a. The Boatmen. When they play in Montreal, Montreal introduces them with "Row, row, row your boat"
Hamilton Tiger-Cats - have the best cheer of any team:
Ottawa RedBlacks - mostly to do with the team colours, also associations with power and the logo has a sawblade for the logging history of the area. It's also easily translated to Rouge et Noir for the French Canadian population that lives in and around Ottawa.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers - the name was made up by a Winnipeg columnist after he heard Joe Louis of boxing fame called the Brown Bomber. Now they have mascots that link to fighter jets and have a flyover before each game
Saskatchewan Roughriders - I have no idea why they're called the Roughriders. There used to be 2 teams called the Roughriders each in a different conference until one changed their name.
Calgary Stampeders - named after the largest rodeo festival around, the Calgary Stampede. Their logo has a white charger on a red background and when they score a touchdown, 2 people ride the length of the field on the sidelines on white horses. It's pretty exciting to watch!
Edmonton Eskimos - we haven't had the same kind of backlash that the Redskins get, likely since this name isn't as derogatory? And the mascots are polar bears, not Inuit people.
B.C. Lions - this and the Tigercats are the most normal names of the bunch
I hope you liked my little insight into the CFL. Pre-season games have started and the league starts June 25. If you're in the USA games will be streamed on ESPN 3.