Ultimate fan experience
Sports writer Brady Lang goes to the CFL player awards
Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer
I really did not know what to expect walking into the Conexus Arts Centre last Thursday, but it did turn out to be one of the coolest nights I’ve ever experienced.
The Gibson’s Finest CFL Awards is an annual show put on by the league to showcase and award the CFL’s Most Outstanding Players. Every year the event is hosted in the city that also hosts the Grey Cup and this year – if you haven’t heard – Saskatchewan is hosting the 2013 Grey Cup, and both the awards and the big game will take place in the Queen City.
I was lucky enough to get tickets on the balcony for the award show, honestly one of the best seats in the house.
While walking into the Conexus Arts Centre I was unsure how to act, dress, or honestly, what was going to go on. I got there around seven, parked beside Roughriders defensive coordinator Richie Hall, and then made my way into the show.
I knew that the CFL’s best would be there, but I didn’t expect them all to be at the ceremony in the fashion that they were. I walked into the common area and was cut off by a taller guy in a brown suit. As I kept walking I noticed that the man that cut me off was none other than the infamous Henry Burris.
To the left of Burris was former Rider Andy Fantuz, and as I manoeuvred throughout the common area, I noticed that this was beginning to become the norm for the reception.
I saw many famous faces and actually got a picture with the Canadian Football League’s top trash talker – as voted by the players – Dwight Anderson. He was more than willing to take pictures with anyone and everyone and was one of the most accommodating athletes I’ve ever met.
After buying a couple calendars from some very persistent cheerleaders, I went to my seats up on the balcony. After sitting down, I had to stand up to let another bigger dude walk down the aisle, turns out it was former Riders defensive end Stevie Baggs.
The show was opened up with former Rider Glen Suitor and Saskatchewanians Darren Dutchyshen and Brent Butt who hail from Porcupine Plaine and Tisdale respectively, as hosts.
As the show went on, it was really special to see players such as former Rams stars Brett Jones and Brendon Labatte being able to win such prestigious awards. Jones, the rookie centre from the Calgary Stampeders, was awarded with the Most Outstanding Rookie while Labatte, from the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders, was awarded the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
Both Labatte and Jones are Rams alumni, Jones playing just last year while Labatte’s last CIS game was in 2008. Both players were born and raised in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, which caused many media members to ask ‘What’s in the water in Weyburn?’
As the night progressed, many awards were handed out and it ended up being a historic night for Calgary running back Jon Cornish as he took home the Most Outstanding Player and the Most Outstanding Canadian awards.
The night was incredibly cool, especially being a young journalist like myself. I was taken aback by how the players were able to be one on one with the fans.
The players know that the fans drive the CFL and seeing the event the other night, you really realize that the CFL players genuinely care about us and know that the only reason they are here is because of us, the fans. That’s what makes this league so special.