All nine teams announced their nominees for this year’s CFL awards on Wednesday. The six traditional award categories are nice and all, but I find them to be somewhat limited.
Why not branch out from tradition to include some fresh and new awards that recognize a larger group of players? Here are six awards I’d like to see the CFL start handing out — and who would win them this season.
Comeback Player of the Year — LB J.C. Sherritt, Edmonton Eskimos
This award recognizes a player who overcame a setback from last year (e.g. injury, personal struggle, etc.) to enjoy a great season.
Sherritt suffered a torn ACL in his first game of the 2017 campaign, ending his season just minutes after it began. The eight-year veteran responded with a spectacular season — 91 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumble — and was named the Eskimos’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Honourable mention: QB Travis Lulay, B.C. Lions
The Swiss Army Knife Award — DL/DB Tobi Antigha, Saskatchewan Roughriders
This award recognizes a player who performed a wide variety of roles (sometimes referred to as being ‘multiple’) for his team.
The CFL’s limited roster size places a value on players who can slot in at multiple positions. Antigha (6’2, 240) regularly bounced this season between defensive end and safety — he even played a little bit of corner, too — all while chipping in on special teams. That type of versatility is remarkable.
Honourable mention: REC/RB/RET Nic Demski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Home Sweet Home Award — DB/LB Don Unamba, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
This award recognizes a player who, after a number of years searching for a team, solidified a starting role with his club.
Unamba was a member of the Bombers (2014), Riders (2015), and Alouettes (2017) before joining the Ticats midway through last season. He has since emerged as one of the CFL’s best strong-side linebackers, recording 59 tackles, four sacks, one interception, and four forced fumbles this season.
Honourable mention: DB Anthony Orange, B.C. Lions
The ‘Still Got It’ Award — DL Charleston Hughes, Saskatchewan Roughriders
This award recognizes an aging veteran who was unceremoniously cast-off by his long-time team — and then proceeded to dominate with his new one.
Hughes was traded twice back in February — first to Hamilton and then to Saskatchewan. The 34-year-old was supposed to be done after ten great seasons in Calgary. Hughes instead enjoyed a dominant season in green and white, recording 35 tackles and a league-leading fifteen sacks.
Honourable mention: DB/LB Otha Foster, B.C. Lions
The Sick Bay Award — OL Patrick Neufeld, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
This award recognizes an oft-injured player who managed to remain healthy for the entire year.
Neufeld has a long history of missing time due to injury. The eight-year pro had never before remained healthy for a full eighteen game schedule prior to 2018 — as a starter, anyway — and was a strong piece on a consistent Winnipeg offensive line.
Honourable mention: OL Joel Figueroa, B.C. Lions
The Bon Voyage Award — DL John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
This award recognizes an aging player who has announced (or strongly hinted at) his impending retirement.
Bowman has enjoyed a tremendous 13-year career in which he’s clearly established himself as a first ballot hall of fame player. With 405 tackles and 126 sacks to his name, John Bowman is a player that all CFL fans will miss watching.
Honourable mention: DB/LB Chip Cox, Montreal Alouettes