REGINA – Jon Cornish isn’t playing this week as he hoped, but on Thursday night he took home some hardware to maybe make up for it a little bit.
The Calgary Stampeders running back was named both the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian at the CFL Player Awards ceremony. Cornish is only the third Canadian ever to be named the league’s top player, a fact that was not lost on the New Westminster, B.C. native.
“There were good Canadians when I was growing up, but nobody won an MOP,” Cornish said. “For me to have this, I feel like, hopefully someone else will be inspired.
“I think it’s huge for the CFL and Canadian football.”
The Stampeders lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in last week’s West Division final. Cornish would like to be playing in the Grey Cup but is honoured to make history. Cornish led the league in touchdowns (14), rushing yards (1,813), and yards from scrimmage (2,157). He also set the record for most rushing yards in a season by a Canadian, breaking his own record set last year.
Cornish joins two Canadian Football Hall of Famers as Canadians to win the MOP award. Legendary Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback Russ Jackson won the award three times, in 1963, ’66, and ’69. Ton Gabriel, a tight end, won the award in 1978.
Gabriel was an award presenter and praised Cornish for his accomplishments.
“It’s a tribute to his abilities of being consistent and battling through injuries and working with three different quarterbacks. I’m very proud to be on the stage with you.”
Cornish just keeps getting better every year. Since his 2010 season he has improved his carries, yards and touchdowns each successive year. In 2012, he rushed for 1,457 yards and 11 touchdowns, was named Most Outstanding Canadian but lost out to Toronto Argonauts receiver Chad Owens for top player.
This year he made sure he couldn’t be overlooked. He rushed increased his rushing total to 1,813 and rushed for 12 touchdowns. He beat Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray for the Most Outstanding Player award.
Cornish was asked about the possibility of being considered for the Lou Marsh Award, which goes to Canada’s top athlete of the year. Only one other football player has won it, and Cornish is aware of the significance it would have.
“I don’t think Canadians get enough love for playing football. To be recognized for the sport I love, that would be amazing,” Cornish said.
Two other Stampeders teammates took home awards. Kicker Rene Paredes was named the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player after his record-setting season. Centre Brett Jones was named Most Outstanding Rookie – the fifth Canadian player to win the award and first since 2002.
Montreal Alouettes linebacker Chip Cox took home the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. Cox led the league with 115 and recorded 12 sacks.
Roughriders guard Brendon Labatte was named the most outstanding lineman, the only award winner from one of the teams playing in the Grey Cup.
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