Maybe it’s time to recognize a hoggie, eh?
CFL award season is upon us and there are a number of categories without an obvious winner. One prime example is the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award where the list of top candidates has grown small.
The obvious candidate, Andrew Harris, was suspended earlier this year after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance. Though the star running back still has some local support, many pundits from across the country will not vote for someone who failed a drug test.
Cory Greenwood recorded 79 tackles in 12 games this year, but recently suffered an injury. Recovery hasn’t gone well and Greenwood has subsequently been moved to Calgary’s six-game injured list.
Lemar Durant has performed admirably this year, but his team’s 4-10 record hurts his candidacy. Not many award winners come from fifth-place teams and the B.C. Lions have struggled virtually all season.
A pair of early-season breakout stars — Hamilton running back Sean Thomas-Erlington and Calgary receiver Juwan Brescacin — haven’t played since July due to injury.
The league’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian, Brad Sinopoli, is having a down year. While other recent winners — Jerome Messam and Jon Cornish — are now in retirement.
The Most Outstanding Canadian award has been given exclusively to running backs and receivers since 2010. Four defensive linemen have won it since 1985: Leroy Blugh, 1996; Doug Brown, 2001; Brent Johnson, 2005 and 2006; and Ricky Foley, 2009. Mike O’Shea won it as a linebacker in 1999 and a pair of defensive backs — Paul Bennett and Scott Flagel — won it in 1985 and 1987, respectively.
Tony Pajaczkowski is the only offensive lineman to ever win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian award, earning it in 1961. Only once in the last 50 years has an offensive lineman — B.C.’s Jamie Taras in 1999 — has received the award on the divisional level.
That hardly seems fair. Each team is required to start a minimum of seven Canadians per game, which makes for 63-plus national starters league-wide. Approximately half of those starters are offensive linemen, though they aren’t considered serious candidates for the Most Outstanding Canadian award.
The CFL has handed out a Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award since 1974, so it’s not like the big men up front go completely unrecognized. But if a player is the best candidate in multiple categories, he should win multiple awards.
Solomon Elimimian was named Most Outstanding Player in 2014 — despite also capturing the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award — because he was the best player in the league that year.
Lewis Ward is another example of a player who recently double-dipped, winning Most Outstanding Rookie and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player in 2018.
My pick for this year’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman is Hamilton guard Brandon Revenberg. He’s the only blocker who’s started every game for the Tiger-Cats and is one of the most well-rounded offensive linemen in the league. He’s athletic, smart, and violent — everything you want in a big man.
The Most Outstanding Canadian award should go to the league’s top Canadian regardless of position. Offensive linemen don’t score touchdowns or make flashy catches, but there’s no arguing against the importance of having a great offensive line.
Revenberg is one of the best national players in the CFL and, in my view, should be this year’s Most Outstanding Canadian. #OLinemenArePeopleToo