1981 CFL season

Last updated
1981 CFL season
Playoffs
East Champions Ottawa Rough Riders
West Champions Edmonton Eskimos
69th Grey Cup
ChampionsEdmonton Eskimos
  1980 CFL seasons 1982  

The 1981 Canadian Football League season is considered to be the 28th season in modern-day Canadian football, although it is officially the 24th Canadian Football League season.

Contents

CFL News in 1981

The Eastern and Western Football Conferences, which had carried on as separate and autonomous entities since the founding of the CFL in 1958, agreed to a full merger prior to the start of the 1981 season.

With the merger, the Eastern and Western Football Conferences were dissolved and renamed as the East and West Divisions.

The merger authorizes the CFL to have full authority over decisions, including the adoption of a full interlocking schedule for both divisions. All nine teams played each other twice, once home and once away, regardless of their affiliated division. Other than during the three seasons of the CFL's U.S. expansion era from 1993 to 1995, the League's teams have played at least one game home and one away versus every other team in the League since the 1981 season.

In addition, the merger set up the CFL Board of Governors and the CFL Management Council to replace the Executive Committee and the General Managers Committee. After the 1980 season, after owning the team for over ten years, Montreal Alouettes owner Sam Berger retired and sold the team to Nelson Skalbania, who brought in high priced NFL talent who did not adapt to the Canadian game, bringing a terrible losing season to Montreal (they did, however, make the playoffs due to the weak division that year), and with it, a loss of fan support, and he lost money and because of the high priced talent he bankrupted the team. So the team folded after the season, but a year later, a new team, the Montreal Concordes, owned by Expos owner Charles Bronfman, took over the team's players and history.

The East was so weak this season that the Calgary Stampeders, despite being the West's fifth place team, finished with a better record than the second place Ottawa Rough Riders. Ottawa nevertheless upset the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and qualified for the Grey Cup despite winning only five games in the regular season finishing seventh overall.

The ensuing controversy over having a 5–11 team playing in the Grey Cup played a large part in eventually persuading the league to implement a cross-over rule permitting a fourth place team in one division to qualify for the playoffs in place of a third place team in the other division with a weaker record. Nevertheless, the current rule makes no provision to allow a fifth place team to make the playoffs even if its record is better than that of the second place team in the other division, which occurred in 2018.

Regular season standings

Final regular season standings

Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, Pts = Points

West Division
TeamGPWLTPFPAPts
Edmonton Eskimos 16141157627729
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 16115051729922
BC Lions 16106043837720
Saskatchewan Roughriders 1697043137118
Calgary Stampeders 16610030636712
East Division
TeamGPWLTPFPAPts
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 16114141433523
Ottawa Rough Riders 16511030644610
Montreal Alouettes 1631302675186
Toronto Argonauts 1621402415064
  • Bold text means that they have clinched the playoffs.
  • Edmonton and Hamilton have first round byes.

Grey Cup playoffs

The Edmonton Eskimos are the 1981 Grey Cup champions, defeating the Ottawa Rough Riders, 26–23, at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Edmonton won their fourth-straight championship on a last second Dave Cutler field-goal. The Rough Riders' J.C. Watts (QB) was named the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player on Offence and John Glassford (LB) was named the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player on Defence. The Eskimos' Neil Lumsden (RB) was named Grey Cup's Most Valuable Canadian.

Playoff bracket

 November 8: Division Semifinals  November 15: Division Finals  November 22: 69th Grey Cup @ Olympic StadiumMontreal, Quebec
              
 East  E2 Ottawa Rough Riders 17 
 E3 Montreal Alouettes 16  E1 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 13  
 E2 Ottawa Rough Riders 20    E2 Ottawa Rough Riders 23
   W1 Edmonton Eskimos 26
 West  W3 BC Lions 16  
 W3 BC Lions 15  W1 Edmonton Eskimos 22 
 W2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 11 

CFL Leaders

1981 CFL All-Stars

Offence

Defence

Special teams

1981 Western All-Stars

Offence

Defence

Special teams

1981 Eastern All-Stars

Offence

Defence

Special teams

1981 CFL Awards

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References

  1. "CFLapedia".