I really don't intent to take anything away from Travis Lulay, who was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the CFL Thursday night, but I believe that the league missed an opportunity to celebrate greatness by not giving the award to Anthony Calvillo.
Lulay is an amazing quarterback who has honed his skills quicker than most, and is a player who we will enjoy to watch for years to come. However, what Calvillo was able to accomplish this year should not have been overlooked.
It was not right that the one of the greatest quarterbacks to every play the game remained sitting when the Most Outstanding Player award was introduced. It was wrong for the voters not to recognize a player who has accomplished more in his career than any other player in the game. How do you not celebrate the all-time professional football passing yards leader who has surpassed players like Brett Favre, Warren Moon and Dan Marino?
I don't care how many times Calvillo has won the MOP award, or that the league may feel it is a good time to pass the torch to the next generation. This was our opportunity to celebrate with the all-time best.
Calvillo shined in 2011
Some may argue that the award should not be used to celebrate career accomplishments. To that I say that Calvillo was the best player in the CFL in 2011. The ball was in his hands more than any other player this season, as he aired it out 654 times for 5,251 yards. Calvillo threw the ball 71 more times that Lulay for 436 more yards. He had a better quarterback efficiency rating and was intercepted fewer times while leading the CFL's highest scoring offence.
Some may argue that the leadership Lulay exhibited in order to turn around a 0-5 start was instrumental in the B.C. Lions' resurgence, while Calvillo's performance tapered off. Although I would agree that Lulay has shown tremendous leadership through the year, I would remind people that it is pretty difficult to deliver a pass when Calvillo is lying on the turf after getting sacked. The loss of 2011 Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Josh Bourke at the end of the season was a huge factor in the Alouettes' decline. The fact that they had to move tackle Jeff Perett to the opposite side of the line to compensate for the loss of Bourke made matters worse.
Even with the challenges that the Als faced with pass protection, Calvillo was able to put up 44 points against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Eastern Conference semifinal game, which wasn't decided until overtime.
I guess when you are great all of the time, it is less recognizable.
Owens not recognized
Thank goodness that Lions kicker Paul McCallum was selected as the top special teams player for his record-setting year. However, he should have been up for the Most Outstanding Canadian, making room for the league to recognize the accomplishments of Toronto Argonauts' Chad Owens, who led the league in both punt and kickoff return yards and finished with 3,345 combined yards of offence.
Not only did he lead the league in return yards but he was head and shoulders above everyone else. Owens accumulated 742 more kickoff return yards and 160 more punt return yards in comparison to those behind him on the stat sheet. Owens also accumulated 1,326 more offensive yards than any other player. Owens has brought an entertainment value to kick returns similar to Edmonton great Henry Gizmo Williams.
Similar to last year's recipient Markeith Knowlton of Hamilton, Jovon Johnson was "Mr. Everything" for the Bombers' defence and was awarded the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.
We have been entertained by some amazing defensive plays by the Bombers' defensive unit this year. Although it takes strong performance from all 12 players to make a solid defence, when Winnipeg needed a big play, Johnson was the guy who got it done.
Winnipeg defensive coordinator Tim Burke did a nice job placing Johnson in several positions on the field to utilize his talents. Johnson is a player that is amazing at playing with his "eyes". Before you slag me for saying something completely ridiculous, let me explain.
The Bombers play a lot of zone defences, which placed Johnson in a position to fall off and read the play. His ability to see the offensive play develop and anticipate it by reading routes is impressive. His skill set to jump routes is why he led the league in interceptions this year.
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