TORONTO -- During the second quarter of Friday night’s game at Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto, Argonauts WR/KR Chad Owens returned a Damon Duval punt 36-yards to become the first player in professional football to record at least 3,000 combined yards in back to back seasons.
“What I will always remember about this record are the guys who were out there with me on the field and knowing there’s no way I could have done it without them," said Owens.
"I’d like to thank the entire Toronto Argonauts organization and our fans for giving me an opportunity to just be me, and for allowing me to go out there and play the game that I love. I feel fortunate and blessed to be in this position today and I’m so happy to have done it in this league, for this team and for all of my teammates.”
The Flyin’ Hawaiian is having another sensational year. He leads the CFL in kickoff return yards and average, and is on pace to set a CFL record for kickoff return yards in a season. He leads the CFL in punt return yards and is second in punt return average (among those with at least 20 punt returns) and leads the CFL with two kick return touchdowns. Entering tonight’s game he was averaging a staggering 192 combined yards per game.
Owens now sits alongside Canadian Football Hall of Fame RB Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as one of just two players in football history to achieve more than 3,000 combined yards twice in a career. Clemons first accomplished the feat in 1990 with 3,300 yards and then set a single-season professional football record seven years later with 3,840 combined yards during a fairytale 1997 campaign.
Argonauts Vice-Chair and pro-football’s career combined yards leader Pinball Clemons enthused, “I know fans affectionately refer to him as the Flyin’ Hawaiian, but my name for him since early last year is ‘Extrasplendifiscent’: extraordinary, splendid and magnificent. One word can’t adequately describe him. In his first game as an Argo Chad’s talent leapt off the screen when he turned the game around with an electrifying 90-yard punt return for a touchdown at McMahon Stadium. To watch him perform is a thrill but it’s his will, zeal and appeal that have brought him to this previously unspeakable achievement.
"First of all, his tremendous will is exemplified by his commitment to his profession. Vince Lombardi once said, ‘Greater than the will to win, is the will to prepare to win.’ This dynamo is renowned for one of the most intense off-season workout regiments in the game. On game day, everybody wants to be successful but it’s the guys that have the will to put in the time and effort during the off-season that are most successful. It takes work!
"His zeal is also a cornerstone of this remarkable achievement. To perform as consistently as he has through all the adversity this season or any season can bring, you have to love the game. Even the most competent professionals lose their focus over the course of a long season. When someone truly loves the game it’s obvious, undeniable and infectious. He plays hard every down of every game. His zeal makes us love it, too.
"However, his greatest appeal to me is his toughness. To perform so well in consecutive years is literally unheard of. That is because it demands so much of your body. Case in point, Chad took some cataclysmic hits earlier this year and it was like he was an alien; the harder they hit him, the harder he worked. He refused to stay down and, in fact, appeared to be energized with every hit. The real scary part is that he’s still getting better.
"Today, we celebrate something that has never been done in the history of the game, and what could be even rarer on this kind of occasion is to suggest that his best is yet to come. I believe that to be true. Congratulations Chad, love ya little bro.”
In 2010, Owens was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player and a CFL All-Star when he totalled 3,288 yards. It was the sixth-highest single season total in CFL history (third highest in Argos history). Owens is already one of just 10 players in CFL history to put up more than 3,000 combined yards in a season, and he’s one of just three different Argonauts along with Clemons and Rocket Ismail.
Argos legend and the second player in professional-football to achieve 3,000 combined yards in a season in 1991, Raghib ‘Rocket’ Ismail commented, “My first impression is, WOW! This is no joke. It is so difficult to achieve this once, but to do it twice, at this level, speaks to his ability to be a dynamic, tough, smart, and a prepared individual. He epitomizes what it is to be a professional.
"It’s rare to find people who are as talented and as prepared to use their talents to the highest degree, and it speaks volumes to the organization for finding Chad and giving him an opportunity to shine. He is a unique diamond who has been forged through fire, and it took someone at the Argonauts to see that he is special. I’m thankful to have witnessed what Chad has done and I’m thankful to have been part of the Argos organization. Congratulations Chad! Respect!”
NOTE: Combined Yards, also called All-Purpose Yards, is defined as receiving yards + rushing yards + punt return yards + kickoff return yards + missed field goal return yards.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|