The 1961 Canadian Football League season is considered to be the eighth season in modern-day Canadian football, although it is officially the fourth Canadian Football League season.
CFL News in 1961
The Western Canada Intercollegiate Rugby Union merged with the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union.
The WIFU changed its name to become the Western Football Conference.
The CFL season schedule was partially interlocked to allow teams of the Eastern Football Conference to play the teams of the Western Football Conference.
A third consecutive year of interleague exhibition matches were scheduled with teams in the National Football League. As in 1959 and 1960, in both of the two games played, both CFL teams lost (the Toronto Argonauts lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 36–7, on August 2, while the Montreal Alouettes fell to the Chicago Bears, 34–16, on August 5). The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a better idea for success: challenge the nascent American Football League to a duel. The Tiger-Cats faced off against their cross-border "rivals," the Buffalo Bills, on August 8. The Tiger-Cats defeated the Bills, 38–21, giving the Canadian league its first win over an American team since 1941. The AFL, embarrassed over the loss, declined to play another international game, and with the CFL consistently losing to NFL teams, the CFL ended international competition.
The 49th edition of the Grey Cup was played in overtime for the first time at Toronto's CNE Stadium. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won that game by defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats by a score of 21–14, to win the championship.
The CFL made rule changes for the 1962 season, permitting four defensive backs per team to have unlimited blocking during rushing plays, as long as they are lined up outside the ends. Additionally the tackle-eligible play became illegal.
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
- Bold text means that they have clinched the playoffs.
- Winnipeg and Hamilton have first round byes.
Grey Cup playoffs
Note: All dates in 1961
- Calgary won the total-point series by 27–26. The Stampeders will play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Western Finals.
- The Argonauts will play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Eastern Finals.
- Winnipeg wins the best of three series 2–0. The Blue Bombers will advance to the Grey Cup Championship game.
- Hamilton won 2 game total-point series by 55–27. The Tiger-Cats will advance to the Grey Cup Championship game.
Grey Cup Championship
1961 Eastern All-Stars
- QB – Bernie Faloney, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- RB – Dick Shatto, Toronto Argonauts
- RB – Don Clark, Montreal Alouettes
- RB – Ron Stewart, Ottawa Rough Riders
- E – Marv Luster, Montreal Alouettes
- E – Paul Dekker, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- F – Dave Mann, Toronto Argonauts
- C – Norm Stoneburgh, Toronto Argonauts
- OG – Ellison Kelly, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- OG – Kaye Vaughan, Ottawa Rough Riders
- OT – Milt Crain, Montreal Alouettes
- OT – Tom Jones, Ottawa Rough Riders
- DT – Bobby Jack Oliver, Montreal Alouettes
- DT – John Barrow, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- DE – Billy Ray Locklin, Montreal Alouettes
- DE – Pete Neumann, Toronto Argonauts
- DG – Marty Martinello, Toronto Argonauts
- LB – Hardiman Cureton, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- LB – Jim Andreotti, Toronto Argonauts
- LB – Ron Brewer, Montreal Alouettes
- LB – Gerald Nesbitt, Ottawa Rough Riders
- DB – Don Sutherin, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- DB – George Brancato, Ottawa Rough Riders
- S – Jim Rountree, Toronto Argonauts
1961 Western All-Stars
- QB – Jackie Parker, Edmonton Eskimos
- RB – Willie Fleming, British Columbia Lions
- RB – Earl Lunsford, Calgary Stampeders
- RB – Leo Lewis, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- RB – Johnny Bright, Edmonton Eskimos
- E – Jack Gotta, Calgary Stampeders
- E – Farrell Funston, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- C – Neil Habig, Saskatchewan Roughriders
- OG – Cornel Piper, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- OG – Mike Kmech, Edmonton Eskimos
- OT – Frank Rigney, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- OT – Don Luzzi, Calgary Stampeders
- DT – Mike Wright, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- DT – Bill Clarke, Saskatchewan Roughriders
- DE – Tony Pajaczkowski, Calgary Stampeders
- DE – Herb Gray, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- MG – Ron Atchison, Saskatchewan Roughriders
- LB – Gord Rowland, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- LB – Bob Ptacek, Saskatchewan Roughriders
- LB – Wayne Harris, Calgary Stampeders
- LB – Dave Burkholder, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- DB – Oscar Kruger, Edmonton Eskimos
- DB – Norm Rauhaus, Calgary Stampeders
- S – Harvey Wylie, Calgary Stampeders
1961 CFL Awards