Rookie sensation

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

A star is born!

There's always that one season and fairly frequently that one freeze frame game that you'll remember forever when it happens.

And Adam Braidwood, the sensation of a not-so-sensational season, made it happen with two forced fumbles for two touchdowns, one he scored himself, during the Labour Day rematch game in front of 47,965 at Commonwealth Stadium.

"I don't know about a star being born but whatever you want to call it, that was awesome,'' Braidwood said of the part he played to assist Ricky Ray in winning the big game to maybe turn a season around.

"I called my whole family back home. I had people calling me for hours after the game and all day saying 'Man, you played an awesome game.' It felt sooooooo good to get a win like that and do something like that to help this team win.''

And to think it may never have happened if Joe Montford hadn't been thrown out of a game for punching a player in the privates.

To think it also probably wouldn't have happened if the Esks hadn't sucked this season.

LETTIN' JOE GO

"Adam got his first chance because Joe got tossed out of that game. He cashed in an opportunity,'' said coach Danny Maciocia.

"We saw enough that we let Joe go again. We made a commitment to develop Adam,'' he said of the 22-year-old.

"The only way a player like that is going to get better is to keep him on the field. Normally a Canadian doesn't start until his third year. There aren't many exceptions.

"He's been the silver lining in our black cloud. I don't know how that makes me feel, but that's the truth. If we hadn't been going through what we'd been going through, he probably wouldn't be playing a lot yet.

"He's been a joy to coach. His teammates love him. It's hard not to pull for the guy.''

Braidwood, who moved into a four-way tie for the lead in forced fumbles this year, didn't become a starter until Game 6.

"I just feel fortunate to be presented with the opportunity. When I got it, I didn't want to let the coaches down. I wanted to prove that I could play.''

It was the coaches, he said, who gave him the opportunity to lay the lickin' that briefly made Henry Burris stop tickin' and resulted in Charles Alston scoring a 20-yard touchdown to give the Eskimos a 16-0 lead in the game.

"It was the coaches' call. We'd been looking at it on film all week. We thought that the tackle would bite down on one of our linebackers and give me a free run at the QB.''

It's not easy for a player to describe what it feels like to hit a quarterback like that.

"I've hit a few quarterbacks but that was my best hit ever. That was definitely the best one. Man, that felt good.''

On the last play of the game, when the 2006 Eskimos would normally invent a way to lose, Braidwood hit Burris again and ended up with the touchdown and he kept the football as the first souvenir of his CFL career which is only 11 games and six starts old.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

"It's almost impossible for a Canadian to start in the first year - especially with the Eskimos,'' said the Delta B.C. native.

"There are always a lot of veteran guys. Playing time is scarce for rookies.''

Braidwood is not only favoured to be the CFL rookie of the year, if he has any more games like that he might be a unanimous selection when the award is announced at the Winnipeg Grey Cup.

Eskimos don't win that award.

The first pick in the first round last year, the Washington State product would only be the third Edmonton winner. Bryan Kelly was the first. One-year-wonder Shalon Baker was the other.

This kid is not going to be a one-year wonder. He's signed for this year and the next, but if he keeps coming like this, the NFL is going to be looking at him.

"I'm not even thinking about that,'' he said. "It hasn't been a fun year for the team, but I'm having a lot of fun playing, travelling around Canada, hitting quarterbacks ...

"I brought a lot of my college teammates up to Vancouver to watch the Eskimos win the West Final last year. Now I'm one of them. If an opportunity to go to the NFL came along, I'd probably have to take it. But I'd sure have no problem playing here for the rest of my career.''


Videos

Photos