The CFL Single season pass yardage Kings

By Chris Lawton

Around this time of year, as teams qualify for the playoffs and vie for home field advantage, CFL watchers start to talk more seriously about the MOP candidates. More often than not that person tends to be a quarterback. Very much like the NFL MVP awards.

I love the history of the game just as much as I love watching the game now and seeing who is making their own place in league history. Which is why the discussion around MOP awards got me to thinking about the quarterbacks of the past.

With that in mind I thought it might be fun to take a look at the single season pass masters. By which I mean the player, on each of the nine CFL teams, holds the all-time single season passing yardage record. As well as seeing how their team did and if they won the MOP.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Doug Flutie (Calgary Stampeders, 1991)

Credit: Scott Grant/
  • 6,619 yards passing (367.72 yards per game)
  • Received the 1991 CFL Most Outstanding Player Award.
  • Led the BC Lions to an 11-7 regular season record. BC lost 43-41 in the Divisional Round to Calgary.
  • 466 of 730 (63.8%), 6,619 yards, 38 Touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Doug Flutie has the most passing yards in a single CFL season right here with the Lions.

But that 6,000-yard CFL seasons mark doesn’t tell the whole story. This was Flutie’s second year in the league, and first as a full-time starter. He would go on to have a remarkable 8-year career and be the only player to pass for 6,000 yards twice in a single-season.

Doug Flutie (Calgary Stampeders, 1993)

  • 6,092 yards passing (338.44 yards per game)
  • Received the 1993 CFL Most Outstanding Player Award.
  • Led Calgary to a 15-3 regular season record. However, Calgary lost 29-15 to Edmonton in the Western Final.
  • 416 of 703 (59.2%), 6,092 yards, 44 Touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

This was Flutie’s third of four consecutive MOP awards. As well as passing for 6,000 yards in a CFL season twice he also came within 55 yards of doing it again in 1992 when he threw for 5,945 yards. Meaning that from 1991-1993 he threw for 18,656 yards (345.48 yards per game) showing an incredible period of dominant passing and sustained consistency.

Mike Reilly (Edmonton Elks 2017)

  • 5,830 yards passing (323.88 yards per game)
  • Received the 2017 CFL Most Outstanding Player Award.
  • 447 of 654 passes (68.3 %) for 5830 yards and 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
  • Led Edmonton to a 12-6 regular season record. Edmonton lost 28-32 to Calgary in the Western Final.

Michael Reilly, at the time going by Mike), was in his fifth of six seasons with Edmonton when he put up these numbers. He had led them to a Grey Cup win in 2015.

Reilly had a 12 year CFL career that was split between BC and Edmonton. He was a 4-time CFL passing yardage leader (2016-2018 & 20210 so this performance came right in the middle of that.

Kent Austin (Saskatchewan Roughriders, 1992)

  • 6,225 yards passing (345.83 yards per game)
  • Did not win the 1992 Most Outstanding Player Award or Western All-Star place.
  • 449 of 770 passes (59.6 %) for 6,225 yards and 35 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
  • Led Saskatchewan to a 9-9 season and first round playoff exit, losing 22-20 to Edmonton.

As an individual performance this may well have picked up an MOP award in another time. But this was the Doug Flutie era, and as we saw above, he was in the midst of winning four straight MOP awards.

Kent Austin played for four different teams in the CFL, – Saskatchewan, BC, Toronto, and Winnipeg. But he spent the first seven of his ten years in the league with the Roughriders. That included winning the Grey Cup in 1989 when he was named MVP.

Khari Jones (Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 2002)

  • 5,334 yards passing (296.33 yards per game)
  • Named a Western All-Star.
  • 382 of 620 passes (61.6 %) for 5,334 yards and 46 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.
  • Led Winnipeg to a 12-6 season. Lost in the Western Final 33-30 to Edmonton.

Khari Jones had been the MOP in 2001, but in 2002 that honour fell to his team-mate Milt Stegall.

The man who threw one pass for the Scottish Claymores in the WLAF, Jones spent nine seasons in the CFL, seeing the majority of that, and his most successful times as a player with Winnipeg.

He was quarterbacks coach when Kent Austin coached Saskatchewan to a Grey Cup title in 2013.

Henry Burris (Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 2012)

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  • 5,357 yards passing (297.61 yards per game)
  • Named an Eastern All-Star.
  • 391 of 604 passes (64.7 %) for 5,367 yards and 43 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

Henry Burris led Hamilton to a 6-12 record and missed the playoffs. The Burris led offence actually put up the most points in the league, but the D also gave up the most.

Burris played 18 seasons in the CFL with four different teams. He was only with Hamilton in 2012-13. He was named the MOP in the CFL twice – in 2010 with Calgary, and 2015 with Ottawa. A three-time Grey Cup champion, he was also a 2 time Grey Cup MVP (2008 & 2016).

Anthony Calvillo (Montreal Alouettes, 2004)

  • 6,041 yards passing (335.61 yards per game)
  • Named an Eastern All-Star.
  • 431 of 690 passes (62.5 %) for 6,041 yards and 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Anthony Calvillo led the Alouettes to a 14-4 season but lost in the Eastern Final 26-18 to Toronto.

After starting out playing for the Las Vegas Posse and then Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Calvillo found his home in the CFL with the Montréal Alouettes. Of a 20-season career in the league, 16 were spent with the Als (1998-2013).

The year prior to this Calvillo had thrown for 5,891 yards and 37 touchdowns as he led the Als to a Grey Cup appearance.

Calvillo played in eight Grey Cup games (2000, 2002-2003, 2005-2006, and 2008-2010) winning three times (2002, 2009 and 2010).

He was a three-time CFL MOP (2003, 2008, and 2009).

Henry Burris (Ottawa RedBlacks, 2015)

  • 5,693 yards passing (316.27 yards per game)
  • Received the 2017 CFL Most Outstanding Player Award.
  • 481 of 678 passes (70.9 %) for 5,693 yards and 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Smilin’ Hank proved he still had plenty in the tank towards the end of his career in Ottawa. In three seasons with the REDBLACKS he started 43 games and threw for 11,850 yards and 49 touchdowns.

He would go on to helping them win the 2016 Grey Cup in his final game. Marking his second and final Grey Cup MVP performance. A real fairy-tale ending to a remarkable career.

Doug Flutie (Toronto Argonauts, 1996)

  • 5,720 yards passing (317.77 yards per game)
  • Received the 2017 CFL Most Outstanding Player Award.
  • 434 of 677 passes (65.0 %) for 5,693 yards and 29 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

We finish as we began, with Doug Flutie. Who holds the single season passing yardage record for a third of the current CFL teams. Flutie led the 1996 Argos to a 15-3 record and a win in the Grey Cup. A record and feat they would match in 1997.

Flutie won three Grey Cups, one in 1992 with Calgary, and these latter two with Toronto to end his CFL career. He was the game MVP on each occasion too.

Will any of these franchise records be broken eventually? It seems inevitable. Especially as the sport and style of play changes over the years. But some of these records will be more difficult to scale than others. It will be fun seeing how people go chasing them down.

If you enjoyed this and want to read more CFL content, please check out the Touchdown’s own CFL page.



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK