October 28, 2019

2019 Fans’ Choice Awards

Winnipeg Blue Bombers #33 Andrew Harris during Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. the Toronto Argonauts at IG field Friday July 12, 2019

It’s that time of year again, so huddle up Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans, for our annual chit-chat regarding the team’s nominees for the Canadian Football League’s Most Outstanding Player Awards.

As is the case every year – and in this our Fourth Annual Fans Choice Awards – the Bombers candidates for the honours are stellar and speak of the quality of the individual performances in another double-digit win season.

There is two-time CFL rushing champion Andrew Harris, who finished with 1,380 yards – 10 shy of his career best, set last year in two more games played – and is almost certain to win his third straight title, what with his 323 yard lead over William Powell of the Saskatchewan Roughriders into the final week of the regular season.

That makes Harris a double candidate, again, for both the Most Outstanding and Most Outstanding Canadian Player honours.

There is defensive end Willie Jefferson, who set a league record for pass knockdowns and is a legit candidate for the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player and certainly in the discussion as the Bombers MOP.

There are some solid rookies, including Kenny Lawler, who led the team in receiving yardage, along with defensive tackle Steven Richardson and guard Drew Desjarlais, both of whom earned a pile of starts in their first seasons.

There are the usual faces on special teams like Mike Miller and Justin Medlock, along with rookies Janarion Grant and Kerfalla Exumé. And as always, there is the rock at left tackle in Stanley Bryant, who is the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for two years running.

Yet, we must also address the elephant in the room here in Harris – or, in this case, the Most Outstanding Player/Canadian in the room – and his eligibility. Many Bombers fans believe he should still be eligible for the awards, despite his two-game suspension for having traces of a banned substance found in a random drug test this summer.

Just FYI, the official voting for the league awards is done in three phases, with the team nominees announced this Wednesday, followed by the West/East nominees and finally, the league winners, which are celebrated during Grey Cup week.

Each of the CFL’s nine head coaches have a vote, as do four members of each chapter of The Football Reporters of Canada. In Winnipeg, those voters are CJOB’s Bob Irving, Jeff Hamilton of The Free Press, The Sun’s Ted Wyman and TSN 1290’s Darrin Bauming.

The results of those votes are to be announced on Wednesday, and based on reaction from some of the FRC voters both here and also outside of this market, Harris – despite his incredible season and accomplishments – might be left off ballots due to his suspension.

One way or another, yay or nay to Harris, that will be a highly-debated discussion both here in Winnipeg and nationally given other MOP candidates being tossed around in other markets have had their transgressions as well – although not necessarily during the same season.

In any case, here’s where Bombers fans can get involved. Once again, we want you to have the chance to be heard in our Fans Choice Awards and will again offer some goodies – with three participants, drawn randomly from entrants, receiving gift cards of $100, $50 and $25 from the Bomber Store.

What follows is a bit of a primer to the potential Bombers award nominees. We won’t list all the players eligible for each award, but instead, provide a look at some of the main candidates in each of the categories.



(last year: Adam Bighill)

RB Andrew Harris: A potential third-straight rushing crown would be an accomplishment no other Bombers running back has matched in the club’s history. With that, Harris would join an elite group that also includes Johnny Bright (1957-59), George Reed (1965-69), Mike Pringle (1997-2000) and Jon Cornish (2012-14). Rushed for 1,380 yards this season and led the Bombers with 70 receptions for 529 yards.

DE Willie Jefferson: An absolute difference maker who set a new CFL record for pass knockdowns by a D-lineman – best in the league this year – while leading the club with 12 sacks, currently third-best in the CFL.

CB Winston Rose: The CFL’s interception leader with nine, the highest total by a Bomber since Less Browne had 10 in 1991.


(last year: Andrew Harris)

RB Andrew Harris: More accomplishments to list here: in the win over Calgary he became the CFL’s all-time leading rusher for Canadians. He is now the CFL’s all-time leader in receptions for running backs and continues to move up the league’s Top-10 list for yards from scrimmage.

SB Nic Demski: Another solid year for the local product after he finished with 543 yards on 44 receptions and three TDs, and rushed for 147 yards and two more scores.

C Michael Couture: Stepped in after the retirement of Matthias Goossen and started all 18 games at centre on arguably the best O-line in the CFL.


(last year: Adam Bighill)

DE Willie Jefferson: We outlined the sacks and knockdowns above in the MOP primer, but worth nothing is Jefferson also has a league-leading six forced fumbles heading into the final weekend, 24 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries.

CB Winston Rose: He and Calgary’s Tre Roberson have been 1-2 in the interception race all year. Rose has the nine and will watch to see of Roberson, who has seven, can catch him this coming weekend. Rose also tied with the league lead last year as a member of the B.C. Lions.

DB Marcus Sayles: Chandler Fenner leads the Bombers in tackles, but was out of the lineup last week in a coach’s decision. But Sayles has been a key playmaker in the Bombers secondary, with 66 tackles – third best on the team behind Fenner and Kyrie Wilson – but also three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His two blocked kicks is also tied for the CFL lead.


(last year: Marcus Sayles)

WR Kenny Lawler: The Bombers leading receiver in yardage with 637 on 43 catches, four of them for touchdowns. Considered a rising star at the position across the league.

DT Steven Richardson: The man teammates refer to as ‘Stove’ has been a force alongside Drake Nevis at the defensive tackle spot. Finished with 25 tackles and two sacks.

OL Drew Desjarlais: Stepped in at left guard following injuries to Pat Neufeld and Cody Speller and hasn’t given up the spot when the crew got healthy again up front.


(last year: Stanley Bryant)

LT Stanley Bryant: He’s been the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for two straight years and has been a consistent force again in 2019. A durable force who has not missed a single game in his five years as a Bomber.

RT Jermarcus Hardrick: He’s been banged up for much of the year, but protects the right side consistently and is a heart-and-soul player every locker room covets.

C Michael Couture: Remember at the beginning of the 2019 season when there were concerns about the interior of the Bombers O-line following the retirement of Matthias Goossen, Sukh Chungh’s signing in B.C. and the injury to Neufeld to open the season? Yeah, that discussion didn’t last long.


(last year: Justin Medlock)

KR Janarion Grant: Suited up for only 11 games, taking over after an injury to Charles Nelson. But he leads the league in kick return touchdowns – three, all on punt returns – and is a threat every time he puts his mitts on the ball.

K Justin Medlock: He’s just so steady – connected on 86 percent of his field-goal attempts (37 of 43), while averaging 44.5 yards per punt. It’s his work in that department as a punter which is vastly underrated, as he is the best positional punter in the CFL and adept at using a variety of punting techniques that make him difficult to read and return.

FB Mike Miller: Tied for second in the CFL with 25 special-teams tackles with teammate Kerfalla Exumé – Toronto’s Frank Beltre has 26 – and is now second on the league’s all-time list.