The pair of Edmonton Eskimos voted onto the list of 26 West Division all-stars pales in comparison to the 13 players from the Calgary Stampeders roster, but they are hoping their peers help even things out.
While the division all-stars were chosen by 69 voters made up of the Football Reporters of Canada, head coaches and CFL fans, the Canadian Football League Players Association will cast its votes for the CFLPA all-stars Thursday.
Eskimos all-star defensive back Chris Thompson and all-star slotback Fred Stamps are hoping to have some more company.
A combination of a 2-9 start to the season and a rash of injuries, which saw as many as 12 players on the nine-game injured list at one point, had the Eskimos overlooked by voters.
“We definitely started off bad, but the last few games we were probably the hottest team in the CFL,” Thompson said. “We just came up short and hopefully the CFLPA recognizes that when they do the voting (Thursday).”
Despite having three more wins than the last-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Eskimos ended up with five fewer all-stars. In their own division, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions had six all-stars each, while the Calgary Stampeders led the league with 13 all-star selections to go along with their league-leading 13 wins.
“We missed a lot of guys the first few weeks of the season and we missed Fred in the middle of the season, which was crucial. He missed four games,” Thompson said. “When we got everybody back, we really showed what kind of team we had.”
Especially on the defensive side, which dealt with more significant injuries than Thompson has seen throughout his four-year CFL career.
“Guys made plays, we came out with the attitude every week,” said Thompson. “Like two weeks ago against Winnipeg, it was a defensive game and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Defence wins championships.
“When we’re off, the offence is supposed to be up and when they’re off, we’re supposed to be up. It’s a team effort.”
Thompson was last named an East Division and CFLPA all-star in 2008, after leading the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with nine intercptions. The next year he was given an even greater measure of respect in the form of opposing quarterbacks throwing away from him, although it meant his numbers suffered and he didn’t receive any all-star recognition.
“Last year definitely was a decline in stats,” said Thompson, who bounced back to lead the Eskimos with seven interceptions. “Teams stopped throwing to me as much as they did in ’08. This year they might have forgot who I was with (No.) 29 on.”
Stamps is enjoying his second consecutive West Division all-star selection after leading the league in receiving last season. He led the Eskimos again this year, despite missing four games due to a dislocated shoulder.
“It’s cool,” Stamps said. “Like I always say, I’d give it all up for a victory or whatever, but it’s a good thing to have an all-star (award).
“I’d give all the stats away, especially to play in a Grey Cup here in Edmonton but that’s the way things happen.
“It wasn’t meant for us this year, hopefully we can get it next year some time and be ready to win a Grey Cup.”
The CFL all-stars will be announced on Nov. 17.