55 Yard Line - CFL

TSN came up with a cool idea this year, polling the CFL's players on which of their peers best fit certain descriptions. They released the results online this morning, and they'll be talking about them tonight on the 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) edition of SportsCentre. There's some interesting stuff in there; they received responses from 218 players, or over half of the league's players, and there was quite a bit of consensus on many of the categories. One of the most notable results was the selection of Calgary Stampeders' defensive back Dwight Anderson (pictured at right knocking a pass away from Montreal's S.J. Green in an Oct. 1 game) as the league's top trash-talker.

It's reasonably surprising to see Anderson picked here, especially by such a decisive margin. He received 37.3 per cent of the vote, which would be around 81 ballots (presuming every player who responded voted in every category, which isn't necessarily the case). Anderson hasn't even been in the CFL for that long, as he entered the league with Hamilton in 2007. He went to Calgary in 2008, and has fit nicely into that Stampeders' defence, and he's having a good season (four interceptions and 44 tackles), but it's a bit curious to see any defensive back selected here. They're often assigned to cover different players from play to play and often start well in the backfield, so there might be less opportunities for talking trash than there are for linemen. Anderson's clearly maximized his opportunities and made an impression on his opponents, though. Even if this Mr. Anderson may not be The One, he's made his mark with both his talk and his play.

Anderson had an interesting path to get here. He was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, excelled in high school football in Connecticut, spent his university career with the NCAA FCS (formerly I-AA) South Dakota Coyotes (where former CFL star and current Detroit Lions return man Stefan Logan would later play), and was signed by the NFL's St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2004. He went to the Carolina Panthers the next year, then back to the Rams in 2006. In 2007, he briefly played arena football with the Philadelphia Soul before heading north of the border. He's certainly made his mark in his time in the CFL, and he'll get some extra publicity out of this poll, at least; in addition to discussing the results on tonight's SportsCentre and this weekend's pre-game show before Saturday's B.C.-Hamilton clash, TSN's also going to air a feature on Anderson on Wednesday's SportsCentre. He's not the only notable winner, though. Let's take a look at the rest of the results.

Best Hands: Ben Cahoon, Montreal: Yeah, that sounds about right. Cahoon became the CFL's all-time receptions leader this year, and he's been a pretty effective 38-year-old receiver with 67 catches for 703 yards this season. He got 24.9 per cent of the vote, impressive considering his age and how many talented receivers there are in the league these days. It looks like his streak of eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons is going to end this year, partly thanks to Montreal's other receivers stepping up (Jamel Richardson has 1,271 yards, Kerry Watkins has 970 and S.J. Green has 875), but Cahoon is still a vital cog in one of the league's best offences. He also still has a flair for the dramatic, as he's demonstrated with fantastic catches like this Week 11 one against the Tiger-Cats. Still, my favourite Cahoon moment remains his "Helmet Catch", from July 18, 2009:

Best, Most Respected: Anthony Calvillo, Montreal: If Cahoon is a key cog in the uber-efficient Montreal offence, Calvillo's the engine that drives it. He's won two straight Most Outstanding Player awards (three overall), and will be a strong contender for the honour again this season; he's third in the league in passing with 4,839 yards despite missing two games thanks to injury, and also remains tops among starting quarterbacks with a 67.6 per cent completion mark and a 108.1 quarterback rating. He's thrown 32 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions this year. It's not particularly surprising that his peers chose him as the league's best, but the amount of votes he received is very impressive; Calvillo picked up 37.4 per cent of the votes for the league's best player,
which is significant considering how much top-tier talent there is in the CFL at the moment. He also blew everyone away in the "most respected" category, earning 48.1 per cent of the vote.

Strongest Arm: Henry Burris, Calgary: Burris is also having a great year, and might just give Calvillo some competition at the CFL awards this year. He overwhelmingly carried this category, picking up 56.1 per cent of the vote. Burris has had some moments of inconsistency this season, but he's been very good by and large; he's second in passing with 4,890 yards and has thrown a league-high 37 touchdown passes (against 20 interceptions). He's very good at throwing the long ball, and he's also gained 476 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, so it's not just his arm that's impressive.

Most Underrated: Kevin Glenn, Hamilton: This selection strikes me as a pretty good choice. Yes, Glenn struggled this week against Calgary, but he's quietly had a pretty impressive season. He's fourth in the league in passing with 4,813 yards, right behind Calvillo, and he's completed 65.5 per cent of his passes while throwing for 30 touchdowns (and 16 interceptions). He picked up 17.1 per cent of the vote to carry this category. Glenn isn't usually mentioned with the league's top-tier quarterbacks, but he certainly has the potential to play at that level. It's just a question of if he can do so consistently or not.

Biggest Threat to Score From Anywhere on Field: Chad Owens, Toronto: This was a pretty clear choice, and Owens overwhelmingly and deservedly carried the balloting here, earning 43.7 per cent of the vote. He has 2,701 combined return yards on the year, more than 1,000 ahead of his closest competitor (Hamilton's Marcus Thigpen), and seems like a lock for this year's special-teams award. He can contribute on offence too, as he demonstrated this past week with a touchdown catch. It didn't take him long to make an impact, either; in his first CFL game this year, Owens returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown, and in his second game, he took a missed field goal back 117 yards for another touchdown:

Toughest: Cory Boyd, Toronto: Boyd only received 9.8 per cent of the votes, which makes sense considering how many tough players there are in the league. However, he's certainly a deserving choice; he's been one of the Argonauts' top players this season and has been key to their revitalization. He leads the league with 1,359 rushing yards and should get at least some consideration for Most Outstanding Player this season. He's also battled through both physical and mental trauma this year, and has persevered despite incredibly difficult circumstances. That makes him an excellent choice in my books.

Nastiest: Rob Murphy, Toronto: Murphy has long been known as one of the league's toughest linemen, so it makes sense that he came up with this award with 15.4 per cent of the vote. He's not just a nasty player, though; he's also one of the league's best in the trenches, and some, including The Calgary Sun's Ian Busby, will undoubtedly vote for him as the league's top lineman. However, I figured Murphy's former B.C. teammate Jason Jimenez was a lock to win nastiest this year, considering his history of controversial play and the CFL-maximum fine and summons before Commissioner Mark Cohon he received earlier this year for a hit on former teammate Brent Johnson.

Hardest Hitter: Solomon Elimimian, B.C.: Speaking of controversial hits, here's another player in the news for one this year. Elimimian was fined for a hit on Ricky Ray in the Lions and Eskimos' crucial Oct. 16 clash. Despite that, he's having a very successful rookie season in B.C. It's very impressive that he got 28.2 per cent of the vote here in his first CFL campaign. Elimimian also took an unconventional path to get to the CFL; he was born in Nigeria and played his college football at the University of Hawaii before a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills. He's a good all-around defensive player as well as a hard hitter, but his reputation as a punishing tackler is well-deserved, as you can tell from these highlights of him from that Oct. 16 game:

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