Richardson robbed of MOP vote

Alouettes slotback Jamel Richardson celebrates a catch against the Argonauts in Montreal, Que.,...

Alouettes slotback Jamel Richardson celebrates a catch against the Argonauts in Montreal, Que., Nov. 21, 2010. (MATHIEU BELANGER/Reuters)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 PM ET

CALGARY - Years from now, when scouring the CFL record book, a curious mind might ask, ‘How did Jamel Richardson not win the MOP in 2011?’

It will be just as legitimate a question then as it is now, but the chances the Montreal Alouettes slotback has at being named the CFL’s most outstanding player went from slim to none Wednesday.

In choosing the Gibson’s Finest Players Awards, the Football Reporters of Canada members in each CFL city nominate players for that team.

So it’s the Montreal media who had the choice of whether to reward Richardson for a record-setting season.

They messed up by picking Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo instead.

Now, CFL observers would agree Calvillo is a great player and he’s had a decent year but just not up to his usual standards. His 99.2 passer rating is his worst since 2007, right before he started a run in which he led the Alouettes to the Grey Cup three straight years, winning three East Division MOPs and two league awards of the same title.

But this season, Calvillo has been leaning on those around him more often and had some uncharacteristic poor outings.

When he needs a big play, he goes to Richardson, and the power slotback does most of the work himself.

Richardson leads the league with 656 yards after the catch and 41 second-down grabs for a first down.

With a gorgeous one-handed grab Sunday afternoon against the visiting Calgary Stampeders, Richardson went over the 100-yard mark for the 12th time this season, breaking a record he shared with four other players.

The reigning Grey Cup MVP did it in just 16 games, and he can add to the mark with one final 100-yard game this week.

And with 1,772 yards this season (and league-leading 110 receptions and 11 TDs), Richardson has caught 34.2% of Calvillo’s passes.

“What else can you do?” said Stampeders receiver Ken-Yon Rambo, who took a backseat to Henry Burris for his team’s MOP award while leading the CFL in receiving in 2008.

“That’s a record-breaking season — nothing else needs to be said about that. Sometimes people see your efforts, and sometimes they bypass you.

“The only other player they could give it to was Brandon Whitaker. I thought they should have given it to Jamel.”

If Whitaker were to get the award ahead of Calvillo, it would be easier to understand.

The running back has 1,983 yards from scrimmage and could have one of the best seasons all-time if he finishes off well.

This was of course a record-setting year for Calvillo, but breaking Damon Allen’s all-time marks for TD passes and passing yardage have little to do with this season.

“This is AC’s last year,” said Stampeders slotback Nik Lewis. “Of course, Jamel deserves it.

“If you look at the YAC he has and the catches him and SJ Green make, sometimes it’s the receiver who make the quarterback.

“I’m not saying Calvillo is not great, because everybody knows he is. At the same time, if you look at the plays those two make, it’s obvious this year that Jamel is the best player on that team.”

Lewis just so happens to be second to Richardson in yards after catch with 580 and fourth league-wide with 26 second-down grabs.

Without a consistent quarterback or running back taking away the spotlight, Lewis was named the outstanding player candidate on his team.

Maybe Richardson will get the recognition once he plays without Calvillo. Lewis looks at it differently.

“Once they start taking stats for quarterbacks when they only get the yards for when the ball is in the air, then maybe quarterbacks will have a different perspective,” Lewis said.

“You might see a quarterback throw for 2,000 yards in a season. Last year, I was 52% in YAC — I had 1,200 yards, and 52% of those yards came from me and my blockers. It had nothing to do with the quarterback.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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