Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell arrives in preparation for the Grey Cup, in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday November 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell arrives in preparation for the Grey Cup, in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday November 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

Calgary quarterback earns second CFL outstanding player award

Calgary Stampeders quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell, was named the CFL’s top player Thursday night during the league’s awards banquet at the Winspear Centre.

As he collected another CFL outstanding player award, Bo Levi Mitchell had a not-so-subtle message for the league and its players: Get a deal done.

The Calgary Stampeders quarterback was named the CFL’s top player Thursday night during the league’s awards banquet at the Winspear Centre.

The CFL and CFL Players’ Association will begin talks this off-season on a new collective bargaining agreement. The present deal expires in May 2019.

Negotiations the last time around were testy before a deal was eventually hammered out. This upcoming round is expected to again be contentious with the union already unhappy the league won’t be giving players signing bonuses until after a new deal is reached.

“I think I can speak for every single person here,” Mitchell said. ”To the CFL, to the CFLPA: Get the damn thing signed.

“I think we agree we want something fair, so does the league. I stand strong with my brothers in the union and I want us to get the best deal we can but I also want to see a deal signed and this league up and running as fast as possible.”

Balloting was conducted by members of the Football Reporters of Canada and the nine CFL head coaches. A total of 60 voters participated.

Mitchell’s first top player award came in 2016. But his focus is firmly on the Grey Cup game Sunday when Calgary faces the Ottawa Redblacks.

The Stampeders are in the title game for a third straight year but are 0-2 over that span. Mitchell led Calgary to a CFL championship in 2014.

“We’re judged, first and foremost, by championships,” Mitchell said. “I believe winning a Grey Cup won’t be revenge or redemption for the last couple of years but it will build on a legacy that this organization has put together over decades of work.

“It’s going to be an amazing feeling if we can get that done as a team.”

Mitchell, 28, had a CFL-high — and career-best — 35 TD passes in leading Calgary (league-best 13-5 record) atop the West Division.

The Katy, Tex., native threw for 5,124 yards. He also had 42 completions of 30-plus yards and a TD-to-interception ratio of 2.5, both league bests.

Mitchell received 47 first-place votes to become the ninth multiple winner in CFL history. He’s also the second-youngest to accomplish the feat as Jackie Parker won his second in 1958 at age 26.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the CFL’s second-leading passer with 5,209 yards, was the finalist.

Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill claimed top defensive player honours. The five-foot-10, 230-pound Blue Bomber received 57 first-place votes for his second award after winning in 2015 with the B.C. Lions.

Bighill had 105 tackles, four sacks two interceptions and a CFL-high four forced fumbles in his first season with Winnipeg. Bighill spent the ’17 campaign with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and thanked former B.C. head coach Wally Buono for giving him his chance to play professionally.

“You see the best football players on the field in the CFL,” Bighill said. “Down south I can’t say that’s always the case.

“It’s a fact guys can play football and get the opportunity to play here and do great things. I think that’s truly a special part of the game up here.”

Bighill is the first Bomber to win the award since Jovan Johnson in 2011 and the ninth to claim multiple honours.

Hamilton linebacker Larry Dean, who had a career-high 105 tackles, was the finalist.

Ottawa players captured three honours, including two for kicker Lewis Wards (rookie, special teams). Slotback Brad Sinopoli was top Canadian.

Ward made 51-of-52 field goals (league-record 98.1 per cent), including a pro football-record 48 straight that will carry over into 2019. The undrafted Kingston, Ont., native earned 50 first-place votes in rookie balloting and 43 for the special-teams honour.

“My big thing for people who want to pursue their goals is don’t quit,” Ward said. “Just because it doesn’t happen when you want it to doesn’t mean it can’t.

“The easiest way doesn’t always last the longest so you’ve got to put the work in and do the hard work that it takes.”

Read more: Calgary Stampeders back to Grey Cup with 22-14 win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Read more: Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert was the rookie finalist while B.C. Lions kicker Ty Long was the special-teams runner-up.

Sinopoli, of Peterborough, Ont., earned his second top Canadian award after winning in 2015. He had 116 catches — a single-season record for a Canadian — for 1,376 receiving yards with four TDs as Ottawa (11-7) finished atop the East Division.

Sinopoli, who received 32 first-place votes, has cracked the 1,000-yard plateau the last four seasons. Not too shabby for a player who reverted to receiver after winning the Hec Crighton Trophy as a quarterback.

“It was a tough pill to swallow when someone tells you you’re not good enough to do something you’ve obviously been doing for a while,” Sinopoli said. “But in football the biggest lesson is when someone asks you to do something … really try to own that role.

“Things usually blossom from that.”

Winnipeg’s Andrew Harris, last year’s winner and the CFL’s top rusher for a second straight season, was the finalist.

Bombers tackle Stanley Bryant earned the top lineman award for the second consecutive year. He registered 44 first-place votes to become the first multiple winner since Montreal’s Scott Flory (2008-09).

“I really don’t know what to say,” Bryant said. “This is just a really big honour.

“To get it back to back is a surprise but it shows hard work pays off. I’m part of one of the best groups in the CFL.”

The six-foot-five, 311-pound Bryant anchored a Winnipeg line that paved the way for Harris (CFL-best 1,390 rushing yards. The Bombers also scored a league-high 53 offensive touchdowns and allowed 36 sacks, tied for third-fewest overall.

Hamilton guard Brandon Revenberg was the finalist.

Saskatchewan’s Chris Jones claimed top coach honours with 41 first-place votes. Ottawa’s Rick Campbell, the ‘15 winner, was the finalist.

In his third season with the Riders, Jones led the franchise to a 12-6 record and second-place finish in the West Division. That matched the most victories for the franchise since 1970 and earned Saskatchewan its first home playoff game since 2013.

Jones is the first Rider coach to win the award since Corey Chamblin in 2013. He credited his coaching staff and players for the honour.

“We’ve just got a really really good group (of coaches) that’s dedicated to each other,” Jones said. “They’re like brothers, they fight like brothers but when we walk out of the room we’re together.

“Our players, we work them … they put the work in.”

Pierre Vercheval, a former CFL top lineman and Canadian Football Hall of Famer who’s now broadcasting football, received the Commissioner’s Award for outstanding contribution to Canadian football. Buono, who retired at season’s end, claimed the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership award.

Buono, 68, spent 46 CFL seasons a player, coach, GM and league governor. The Canadian Football Hall of Famer and member of the Order of Canada won a record 282 regular-season wins and seven Grey Cups, five as a coach.

“Football is a game that you get paid to win,” Buono said. “Therefore in 46 years I’ve only been a winner seven times.

“I have no complaints other than I didn’t win enough Grey Cups. Other than that, I wouldn’t do anything different. I’ve been very blessed.”

Edmonton Eskimos long-snapper Ryan King received the Tom Pate Award, given annually by the CFLPA for sportsmanship and community service. B.C. fullback Rolly Lumbala claimed the Jacke Gaudaur Veterans’ Trophy for exemplifying the qualities of Canada’s veterans.

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

CVSE officer checking out all the trucks before the convoy, which started at Riverlodge Recreational Centre in Kitimat BC and finished at the George Little Park in Terrace BC. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat truck drivers rally together in honour of 215 bodies discovered at Kamloops Residential School

The convoy started at Riverlodge Recreational Centre and finished at the George Little Park

Coast Mountains School District No. 82 acting superintendent of schools, Janet Meyer, talks about policies and procedures relating to the death of Diversity Morgan, a LGBTQ+ student. (Black Press file)
School District 82 to revisit policy after transgender student’s death

Diversity’ death has created a deeper resolve for CMSD 82 to continue doing the work they started

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
With heavy hearts, the Kitimat RCMP hosted a pride flag ceremony to highlight the RCMP’s commitment to inclusion and diversification, as well as honouring the passing of 15-year-old transgender student, Diversity Morgan, from Kitimat.
Speeches were given by Staff Sergeant Graham Morgan, Mayor Phil Germuth, Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, and Diversity’s father, Mike Wilson.
“We are gathered here for the pride flag ceremony, but in my mind, we’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination. […] Today we celebrate what makes us all unique individuals,” Mayor Phil Germuth said in his speech at the pride flag ceremony.
Struggling to get the words out, Crystal Smith, Haisla Nation’s chief councillor, emphasized her condolences to Diversity’s family in her speech sharing her similar experiences as well as acknowledging the need for education around these subjects.
Diversity’s father, Mike Wilson, said he wished that everyone was there under different circumstances but was grateful to see the turnout and the support from the community.
In honour of Diversity, the Kitimat RCMP also lowered their Canadian flag to half-mast, to bring awareness for people who are experiencing discrimination and are in need of additional support.
The Kitimat RCMP also stated that they will be lowering their Canadian flag around this time every year as a visual representation of LGBTQ+.
Kitimat Save-On-Foods also donated water and snacks for the ceremony.
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read