Ticats Richard Leonard snubbed for East rookie award

Given my body of work this week, I’m hoping this won’t be seen as the usual homer indignation but Richard Leonard just got hosed for the East Division Most Outstanding Rookie.

With all due respect to Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder Jr., who had a tremendous season, is in the playoffs and looks like he is going to be great player in this league, Leonard had the better year. Numbers don’t always tell the tale, but let’s start there anyway.

Wilder played in 15 games this season and made just 10 starts, registering 122 carries for 872 yards, good enough for second in the East and fifth in the CFL. He added 51 catches for another 533 yards and scored five TDs. His combined yardage total was third on his team.

Meanwhile, Leonard, started 18 games at both cornerback and halfback, tied for the CFL lead in pass knock downs (13) and fumble recoveries (3), was second in interceptions (7) and 11th overall in defensive tackles (72). He also returned one of his fumble recoveries 84 yards for a touchdown after a blocked kick in Week 1 against Toronto

So played in more games, made more starts and had comparatively better numbers (yes, I know it’s apples to oranges, but still.) Yes, the Ticat defence was, um, not good during their 0-8 start but that was hardly on Leonard, who was their best player on more than a few awful nights.

Now, I realize that players on teams that win games and make the playoffs often receive more recognition than players on losing teams. Defensive players, especially outside the big names, often struggle for recognition. The media made hay of Wilder’s NFL pedigree – did you hear his Dad is former Tampa Bay Buccaneer James Wilder? – while Leonard is still an unknown, despite a pretty cool back story.

It’s not particularly surprising, but Ticats were shut out of the East Division award winners. The only other guy I would have made an argument for is offensive lineman Ryan Bomben, who was dominant this season. Another Argonaut, centre Sean McEwan, received that honour, despite the fact I’m not sure he’s the best lineman on his own team (right tackle Chris Van Zeyl would have gotten my vote.)

Anyway, it’s too bad for Leonard, who deserved better.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1551 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

43 Comments on Ticats Richard Leonard snubbed for East rookie award

  1. Details Details // November 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm //

    Sorry Drew.
    Gotta agree with the homer bias in this article.
    No James Wilder Jr., no Argonauts in the playoffs.
    Difference maker on a winning team trumps the apples to oranges numbers IMO.

  2. Not so much a snub as a CFL prejudice. Time for two rookie awards; one for offence and one for defence. In the 44 years since 1972, (when Chuck Ealey won), an offensive player has won ROTY 30 times, yet conventional football wisdom says defence wins championships! What a load!

  3. Fair comment, Drew. “Hosed” is a very good word for how the Ticats were treated this year.

  4. I have to agree with George. There should be a defensive & offensive rookie award. I’ll bring out my complaint for the MOP again. There is no offensive category so I never had a problem with a D not winning it. Then along came Elimimian. Was he deserving of MOP – yes. But the offence can’t compete for their own award. The NFL has an MOP for offence & defence. That’s the way it should be. This year we had FOUR players from the 9 teams up for MOP &, obviously, the Defensive MOP as well. Isn’t it enough they have their own award?

  5. It is not surprising in the least that during a year when the Argos have had terrible attendance issues and there are questions about the viability of a team in a Toronto market, that the Argos are handed a number of awards and all-star positions. The CFL is desperate to keep the Argos in Toronto and has been hyping the Argos all year, including this past week with award nominations, all-star selections and their odds at winning the Grey Cup.

    It is truly pathetic to see such bias toward this team.

    • You do realize your team started 0-8. Toronto won the division and Wilder played a large role in that. You think a 6-12 team should have more all-stars than a 9-9 team? If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be 6-12. Sounds like a lot of sour grapes.

    • Details Details // November 9, 2017 at 1:35 pm //

      How shocking that, in an award system based on an east/west split, that the first place team in the east has several award and all-star nominees!
      Equally shocking that a team that did not make the playoffs has less nominees.

      I don’t remember any complaints about an Argo bias last year when the Argonauts finished last in the east and did not have any award nominees.
      Pussy-Cats fans should move out west and join the fans there with their Argonauts-inferiority complexes.

      • Eddiefelson // November 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm //

        Inferiority complex? Bahahaha
        Ticats could be 0-18…and arblows 18-0 and we still wouldnt be inferior. Bahahaha

        Your team needed a boost to stay viable and were given a seat in the playoffs.

        Maybe next year you will have another 100 fans show up.


        • Details Details // November 9, 2017 at 6:41 pm //

          As usual, your logic is sound and your argument is air tight.


        • “Your team needed a boost to stay viable and were given a seat in the playoffs”. Could you explain why the Argos were one of the most penalized teams in the league this year? That is ONE STRANGE way to favour the Argos.

      • Chopper11 // November 9, 2017 at 8:05 pm //

        wow…wow? These are individual awards. Leanard would have been a fair selection. Nothing to do with whining, complaining, shock…
        Enjoy the one playoff game you’ll get with your 4 other fans…
        The Argos are one sack away from ending their season…

        • Details Details // November 10, 2017 at 1:03 am //

          I will enjoy the playoff games.
          Both of them.
          I trust you will enjoy the Pussy-Cats playoff game?
          Oh, wait a minute…

          And “my” four other fans together have a higher IQ than that of all the disgruntled fans found in the litter box, er, donut box.

          • longtimetcfan // November 10, 2017 at 10:14 am //

            Re Argo IQ vs TiCat… not true.

            Proof is the Argo chant, “Arrrrgoooos”. Two syllables is all an Argo fan can manage Thier heads would explode if they tried to get thru the TiCat Oski Wee Wee.

        • Re ARGOOOS chant. I wrote to Drew privately and asked him if he remembered that the chant started as a derisive chant in the early 70’ss in Exhibition Stadium when the Argos were perrenial losers. The new owners have turned it around showing little regard for history or more probably a lack of knowledge.

    • Please do your homework. Just who do you think votes on these awards?

    • Chopper11 // November 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm //

      Don’t buy any bias talk. Nobody that votes has an agenda to vote one way or another. Wilder had some unbelievable games, which may have garnered a lot of attention, but Leanard did more despite a tough year for his team.
      I also don’t agree with the comment that Wilder got them into the playoffs.
      I think it would be a good idea to have separate Rookie D and O player awards, as defensive players usually don’t garner as much attention as an offensive player that is racking up yardage and TDs.

    • I agree. Let me guess, the Argos were also one of the most penalized teams in the league so the CFL could cover up their master plan. What a brilliant strategy!!!

  6. Drew, I had to laugh at your Wilder comment about his father. You’ve forgotten about your own Luke Tasker and we’ve been hearing about this for five years!

    • Chopper11 // November 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm //

      Yeah, and? So what’s your point? I don’t think Drew’s forgotten, nor is Luke Tasker ‘his own’…
      I for one never knew about the Wilder NFL connection…
      Not everybody reads every single article, so putting the facts out there frequently do add to the story…

  7. ‘Usual homer indignation’? Come on Drew, since when have you been a homer. You have stated that you are not a tiger cat fan, so pleaseeee

  8. Anthony Kaduck // November 9, 2017 at 2:39 pm //

    I think the bias that matters is defence vs offence. Given equal talent the people that vote for these awards always seem to favour the player on offence, just as they almost always plump for a QB as MOP. Anyone who watched the games will appreciate that Leonard had an outstanding season, but it’s hard for a guy who prevents TDs to get the same recognition as one who scores TDs.

  9. You can find some fairness in Catland. Trestman’s the hands-down coach of the year, ’cause he’s done it all year long, not just over half a season, like Jones, the other possible. (Kinda an argument for Leonard over Wilder if you use the same logic.)

    The reality of pro sports is this; parity means increased competition and fan interest, so weak-sister teams do no one any good. The other reality is that this league needs the Argos to be successful. It’s ludicrous to think of the country’s largest city not being represented in this very Canadian game. All other pro sports are identical, north and south of the border. The CFL game is DIFFERENT, so celebrate the uniqueness!

    Whether the American wannabe’s in Bytown can look past the Leafs, the Raptors and the Jays and get down in the snow with the rest of us hicks is another story.

  10. 0 and 8 will do that to you.

  11. Thanks Drew, a compelling argument to be sure.

  12. When the Argos played Cats late in the year Wilder did squat. If it wasn’t for the bias officiating that night the Cats would’ve won that game and knocked the Argos out of the east.

    • Clay Connor // November 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm //

      Had the Ticats’ defence been able to stop Argos from converting a 3rd and 18 with a minute to play in regulation, Cats would have won the game.

      • I agree w/ George and Anthony. There should be an award for both Offence and defensive rookies. Different skill sets.

        BTW these ‘prove you’re not a robot’ math quizzes are getting tougher. This may be the last time you see my name here, unless my grand-kids help!

    • You mean you wished the officiating was as good as the labour day game?

  13. Leonard was amazing this year. Game in and game out, play after play. Always a presence back there. Always making it tough for the other team. Even when the D wasn’t good, early in the year. Ya, he deserved it.

    • Absolutely!
      I agree with Drew’s argument and I really don’t’ think ANYONE who knows could accuse him of being a “homer”.
      As others have commented, offensive stats and plays are somehow seen as “better” or “flashier” – certainly they draw more attention than solid defensive play – hardly fair. And this IS an individual award so team record should count for diddly squat – just the performance of the player who was nominated. I thought the same thing as Drew about Leonard and Bomben when I saw that they hadn’t been nominated but had lost out to Wilder and McEwen. I also thought that Hebert over Larry Dean was another travesty. Maybe the league needs to seriously think about adding a couple of extra awards – 2 awards instead of one for the rookies so offensive and defensive players can be recognised plus an award for outstanding offensive player.

  14. Alex Droho // November 9, 2017 at 6:58 pm //

    Richard Leonard had a fantastic season. Ti-Cats fans know that No one can take that away from Richard.

  15. That 3rd & 18 was a killer. E. Davis was badly out of position on the cover, and that was the last game he played.

  16. Ticat Mike // November 9, 2017 at 7:34 pm //

    Leonard was one of the few great surprises and a keeper (having said that. I hope the Cats can keep him for several years). Doesnt matter much about the all star, really — a nice to have — but what matters is the big prize. Leonard is the kind of guy who will help get there. Cats need many more of his calibre in multiple postions on defense.

  17. longtimetcfan // November 9, 2017 at 9:55 pm //

    IMO a defensive player, especially a db, should receive more attention and respect. They are often isolated and on an island one-on-one against receivers. They mess up, it is quite obvious. A running back often needs to rely on the Oline and other “blockers” to be successful. They cannot usually rip off a 20+yard run without lots of help. Poorly explained but in other words… a db’s success, or not, is often dependent on their ability alone. A running back more often relies on a cast of characters to be successful. Leonard was consistently good… great all on his own, in all 18 games he played.

  18. I first saw Richard Leonard in training camp and thought here’s a guy with great potential. Richard if you’re reading this, congratulations on an outstanding rookie season with the Ticats. From ridiculous penalty calls to questionable all-star selections, Argos do seem to reap league favor more often than not. Does anyone really believe this team will some day have a large and supportive fan base? Let’s not forget in 2012, the 100th GC was played in Toronto. Argos defeated the Stamps 35 to 22. Five years later in the biggest city in the country, attendance remains low as is interest level in the team. Why wouldn’t it make more sense to move the team to a smaller center that will embrace a professional sport as being their best and possibly only option for sporting entertainment. TO has too many big league choices and doesn’t consider CFL worthy. It will never fly. How about a second team in Saskatchewan or one in the Maritimes or Quebec City? Yes it would be great to have good fan support for the Argos but perhaps the Argos should move elsewhere to find it.

  19. 6ft6ofgoodness // November 9, 2017 at 11:35 pm //

    It doesn’t surprise me. The CFL has always shown favouritism towards the argonauts and as a fan of another team, most notably the Ticats, it drives me absolutely nuts. Here are some of the few egs over the years of how the league has helped the argos.

    – The 2012 Ricky Ray trade with Edmonton
    – The 2012 Chris Jones incident where they allowed him to leave his contract with the Stamps and take the same job in Toronto
    – 1996- The Doug Flutie trade, arranged by the CFL
    – I know there are other incidents I can’t remember off the top of my head.

    All of this babying the argos crap really pisses me off, and makes me hate them more than I already do. ARGOS SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Why were the Argos one of the most penalized teams in the league this year? Why can’t ANY of you answer this most basic question. So lets favour the Argos this year. How should we do that. Here’s an idea, lets throw a lot of flags against them. I know the air is smokey in Hamilton, but seriously, you actually believe the league favours them??? Re Ricky Ray trade and your tin foil hat conspiracy, what did Edmonton get from this deal. What were they promised???

  20. Absolutely have a defence and offence rookie award.
    Voters seem to pick the names of star players children.
    Should Argos win Grey Cup, people in Toronto will probably not realize it.
    Here’s hoping for Good Quality playoffs, and may the best team win, fair
    and square, without silly calls and bad calls from (THE COMMAND CENTRE),
    Lets keep our fingers crossed.

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