CFL

Lions' Wake named TSN's Friday Night Gladiator of the Year

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TSN.ca Staff
11/22/2008 10:00:58 PM
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Cameron Wake collected his second consecutive award as Most Oustanding Defensive Player on Thursday but the accolades didn't end there.

Each week throughout the season, CFL on TSN analyst Glen Suitor paid tribute to one player for their effort, toughness and sacrifice, naming him the Friday Night Gladiator with each player being presented with a Movado watch.

On Saturday, the Lions' defensive end was named the TSN Friday Night Gladiator of the Year.

"Without question, this guy has been the most dominant player in the Canadian Football League all season," said Suitor. "In my 25 years in the CFL, I don't think I've seen a player come out of his stance so quickly with so much explosiveness. He is able to dominate and collapse the pocket so quickly."

"The numbers speak for themselves with 39 sacks in 36 regular season games over two years. This guy has been a one-man wrecking crew for offences."

Wake used one word to describe how he plays the game.

"Relentless. I feel as a defensive player, you have to have that drive to get to the ball at all costs," said Wake. "Whether the ran at me or away from me, I want to get to the ball and be the one to make the tackle."

Wake possesses all the three traits set out by Suitor to be eligible for the honour.

 "From the opening kick-off to the last play of the game, 100% effort has to be there. A gladiator cannot take a play off." Suitor said. "And gladiators have to be both mentally and physically tough. And they have to say, 'What am I willing to do today to help my team win games?'"

Calgary Stampeders' quarterback Henry Burris will be starting in Sunday's Grey Cup and he knows what it takes to be a gladiator.

"You have to be a warrior," Burris said. "We have guys on our team who are playing through pain, guys with cracked ribs, injured knees, hurting shoulders and that's what a true gladiator is."

Here is a rundown of some of the rest of this year's winners of the Friday Night Gladiators presented by Movado:

In the trenches, it was Doug Brown of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Kitwana Jones of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Tyrone Williams of the B.C. Lions and Bryan Chiu of the Montreal Alouettes.

Among linebackers, Suitor liked the play of Shannon James of the Stampeders.

"He not only has to stop the run but he also has to cover receivers like Geroy Simon and Milt Stegall," Suitor said. He has to be out there in pass coverage and show his athletic ability."

At quarterback, it was Burris, Most Outstanding Player Anthony Calvillo of the Montreal Alouettes, Buck Pierce of the Lions and Kevin Glenn of the Blue Bombers.

"Pierce was my favourite this season," said Suitor. "He was coming off one of his worst games, if not the worst game of his career against Edmonton at home where he threw for 90 yards. He had to put that behind him, go into Edmonton the next week and come up with a win. He did that in style."

"He took a pounding in that football game, absorbing some hellacious hits from which I thought he would not get up. But he fought through the mental challenges. He fought through the physical challenges. And he threw for over 300 yards to win that football game. It was a tremendous performance."

Among the receivers, it was Stegall, Simon, Most Outstanding Canadian Kamau Peterson of the Edmonton Eskimos and Jason Clermont of the Lions.

At running back, it was Wes Cates of the Roughriders, Avon Cobourne of the Alouettes and Jamal Robertson of the Toronto Argonauts.

The Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions were honoured with the most gladiator awards throughout the season with five apiece. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were the only team to be shut out this season.

Cameron Wake (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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