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

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

Black Press Media file photo
Tofino sets municipal tax rates

Tofino’s residential property values are rising while businesses are declining.

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Amphitrite Point lighthouse on Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail during a massive winter storm. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet’s Official Community Plan public hearing goes ahead despite push back

A petition calling on Ucluelet council to postpone the May 13 virtual event fails to deter

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Most Read