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The Globe and Mail

Memo to the CFL: Give us more stars like Travis Lulay

B.C. Lions' quarterback Travis Lulay smiles during football practice in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 23, 2011.


The Canadian Football League is thanking its lucky stars for the likes of Travis Lulay, a dying breed in the three-down game that once prided itself on leading the arms race.

And the pressing question remains, who will be the CFL's future quarterbacking stars?

The gifted quarterback of the B.C. Lions, Lulay was honoured as the league's most valuable player Thursday night, emerging out of nowhere to become one of the CFL's marquee names this season.

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The 28-year-old will lead his heavily-favoured Lions into Sunday's Grey Cup championship against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before a hyped-up hometown gathering at BC Place.

Millions more will be watching the game on televisions across the country in what remains Canada's biggest sporting event.

As the CFL prepares to showcase its game, a nagging issue is that apart from Lulay there is a dearth of talented young QBs in a league that used to teem with them.

Seasoned CFL observers will remember the likes of Russ Jackson, Ron Lancaster and Tom Wilkinson and the panache they brought to the game quarterbacking their teams to Grey Cup championships.

They gave way to the likes of Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Tracy Ham, Matt Dunigan, Doug Flutie and Damon Allen, all big-time players with big-time talent.

Who are we left with now?

After Lulay, the pickings are slim.

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Winnipeg's Buck Pierce, who hopes to be able to knock the Lions off their perch come Sunday, has come around of late after injuries slowed his development.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have Darian Durant.

Then you have CFL stalwarts Anthony Calvillo of the Montreal Alouettes and Ricky Ray of the Edmonton Eskimos, who certainly aren't getting any younger.

Calvillo, who is 39, may not even be back playing next season, his body starting to feel the affects of 18 punishing CFL seasons.

In Toronto, where the Argonauts are almost an afterthought, the CFL club has hitched its wagon to the inconsistent Steven Jyles after Cleo Lemon proved to be a bust struggling to run the show for 1 1/2-seasons.

There was no dominant team in the CFL this season and league optimists will drone on that it this is indicative of the great parity among the teams.

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Another reason is that there are not enough good young quarterbacks around to consistently elevate the level of play.

Lulay can do it both with his arms and his legs, galloping for a 61-yard touchdown run in a 40-23 shredding of the Eskimos in the CFL West final.

His kind of athleticism at quarterback used to be a given in the CFL so watch closely on Sunday.

You might be witnessing a dying breed.

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