Toronto Rifles

The Toronto Rifles were a minor-league professional American football team active between 1964 and 1967. It was based in Toronto, Ontario. The team's home fields were Maple Leaf Stadium (1965)[1] and Varsity Stadium from 1966 to 1967.[2] The team was owned by Montreal businessman Johnny Newman.

As the Quebec Rifles, the team was the first professional American football team to be based in Canada. It played the 1964 season in Montreal, Quebec in the original United Football League. When the Continental Football League (COFL) was established for the 1965 season with former UFL teams, the Quebec Rifles were admitted and transferred to Toronto to become the Toronto Rifles due to the lack of a suitable facility in Montreal.[3][4][5][6] The Rifles competed in the Continental League from 1965–67, but the owners pulled out in the middle of their final season after having lost a reported $400,000 in their final full season.[7] The league took over the club and planned to have it play all of its games on the road, but several weeks later the team folded after having played only four games.[8][9]

The team finished second in the league in 1965, losing to the Charleston Rockets in the league championship. In 1967, however, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts signed away the Rifles' head coach, Leo Cahill, quarterback Tom Wilkinson and running back Joe Williams. Meanwhile, Alan Eagleson took over the franchise. The team declared bankruptcy four games into the 1967 season and the league folded the franchise at the same time as the Akron Vulcans.

The Rifles had a Canadian-based rival, the Montreal Beavers, when in the Continental Football League.


Year Wins Losses Ties Points OPP Playoffs Championships Notes
1964 5 9 0 out of playoffs as the Quebec Rifles of the UFL
1965 11 3 0 412 258 Lost league championship to Charleston Rockets team moved to Toronto and first season in the COFL
1966 9 5 0 344 280 lost East division playoffs to Philadelphia Bulldogs
1967 1 3 0 39 52 failed to make playoffs moved to Atlantic North division, team folds after four games into the regular season

Source: THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 10, No. 5 (1988) - The Continental Football League: A mini tragedy of five acts, Sarge Kennedy[10]



Source: THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 10, No. 5 (1988) - The Continental Football League: A mini tragedy of five acts, Sarge Kennedy[10]

Head coachesEdit


  1. ^ Craig Wallace, Slip in the Rain, the True Story of the 1967-72 Toronto Argonauts, p. 17
  2. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Toronto in ten-team Pro Football League: New Continental Circuit Formed by UFL and ACL Teams". The Globe and Mail. 1965-02-08.
  4. ^ "Move to Toronto Was Last Resort Says Co-Owner of Football Rifles". The Globe and Mail. 1965-02-09.
  5. ^ "New pro league is formed here by football men". New York Times. 1965-02-07.
  6. ^ Lipsyte, Robert (1965-02-08). "Cooperation of N.F.L. and A.F.L. Sought by New Major League". New York Times.
  7. ^ "Rifles dissolved under financial gun: League may draft players". The Globe and Mail. 1967-09-06.
  8. ^ "Rosen on way: Rifles to keep franchise alive playing on road". The Globe and Mail. 1967-09-12.
  9. ^ Dechman, Phillip (1967-09-22). "Rifles' footballers unemployed again". The Globe and Mail.
  10. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Monte Kiffin with Toronto Rifles
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2009-09-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)