Bridge ready to prove Canadian players can be successful quarterbacks
Brandon Bridge wants to be known as a playmaker and a trailblazer.
The goals are connected because Bridge is determined to make it as a starting quarterback in the CFL.
He has taken strides toward attaining that goal during stints with the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Bridge, a third-year pro and second-year Roughrider, recalls talking to CFL veterans Damon Allen, Henry Burris, S.J. Green, Kevin Glenn and Nik Lewis and being told they had never seen a Canadian quarterback with his skill set. Bridge, 25, has shown a strong, accurate arm along with mobility.
“They said if I don’t do it, then it won’t be happening for a very long time,” Bridge said. “I will put it all on my shoulders to open that door. If I can help one kid or two or three, then my job is done.”
Bridge is in a position to raise awareness of the dearth of Canadian quarterbacks in the CFL. He’s a backup to Glenn, but is first off the bench if the veteran struggles in Friday’s game against the visiting Ottawa Redblacks.
Bridge played that role to near perfection in Saturday’s 27-24 win over the Toronto Argonauts. He replaced Glenn, who had completed just three of eight passes for 29 yards, in the second quarter.
“Air Canada,” as Bridge is dubbed, guided the Riders to the come-from-behind win while throwing for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
He also added more fuel to the debate about what the CFL should do to encourage teams to carry a qualified Canadian quarterback on the roster. Bridge and Andrew Buckley of the Calgary Stampeders are the only full-time Canadian quarterbacks on an active roster.
The CFL rules don’t provide an incentive for teams to carry a Canadian quarterback because their passports don’t count in the international/national ratio. Teams can dress three quarterbacks of any nationality.
Bridge posted on Twitter he would like to talk to CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie about changing the ratio to account for a Canadian who plays quarterback. He chatted briefly with Ambrosie during the Plaza of Honour induction reception at Mosaic Stadium.
“He said he would love to sit down and talk to me when he has time,” Bridge said. “He’s a good guy and I hope it doesn’t get me fined for what I said.”
Bridge grew up in Mississauga, Ont., and unlike most Canadianborn quarterbacks, he headed to the United States to play at the collegiate level. He played at Alcorn State for two years before transferring to the University of South Alabama.
He was selected by Montreal in the fourth round (31st overall) of the 2015 draft and has since dressed for 41 CFL games, starting only two — one with Montreal and one with Saskatchewan.
On Sept. 15, Bridge started for an injured Glenn and guided the Roughriders to a 27-19 victory over the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In so doing, Bridge became the first Canadian starting quarterback to guide his team to victory since 1985, when Greg Vavra led the Stampeders to victory.
Bridge has completed 97 of 139 passes for 1,262 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in his career.
This season, he has completed 60 of 86 passes for 817 yards, with nine touchdowns and one interception. He also has nine rushes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Bridge’s body of work is still small, but his performance indicates he just might be a Canadian quarterback worth watching.
“He’s just a quarterback and what his birth certificate said doesn’t matter to me,” Riders quarterbacks coach Jarious Jackson said. “He can spin the football and he gets us in the right plays and that’s all that really matters.”
Second-year Roughrider Brandon Bridge hopes to be a trailblazer for Canadian quarterbacks in the CFL.