November 10, 2005

Edwards takes care of his blockers

Offensive linemen, Vilimek, given watches by Montreal RB

By Herb Zurkowsky,
Montreal Gazette

Robert Edwards already has established his credentials as a superb running back. And this week, he displayed the type of human being he is.

Edwards, completing his first season with the Alouettes, purchased seven engraved watches – six for Montreal's offensive linemen and the seventh for fullback Mike Vilimek – to show appreciation for their assistance in helping him surpass 1,000 yards. The engravement reads: Thanks for a great season.

Although he played in only 14 of the Als' 18 games, Edwards was third in the CFL in rushing, with 1,199 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry. Edwards started 12 of those 14 games. He's Montreal's first 1,000-yard rusher since Lawrence Phillips in 2002.

“I wanted to do something special, because they helped me,” he said. “I wouldn't have been able to get 1,199 yards by myself.”

This season, when it became more apparent he would be Montreal's premier tailback, Edwards said he told the linemen his goal was to rush for 1,200 yards.

“It's not that hard over an 18-game season, even though

I didn't play in all 18,” he said.

“I figured it was something to shoot for.”

Edwards's story has been well documented and received more national exposure as his exploits increased. The former first-round draft choice of the New England Patriots suffered a serious knee injury in 1999 and came within minutes of having a leg amputated. Doctors advised him he wouldn't walk without the use of a cane, let alone play football again.

Edwards, 31, wouldn't reveal the cost of his purchase. Although he probably saved some of his NFL riches over the years, he won't become wealthy playing for Montreal and is believed to be earning far less than $100,000.

Running backs treating their linemen to gifts is nothing new around the Als. Mike Pringle did it regularly, purchasing jackets and golf clubs for his blockers.

“This just shows the appreciation of everything that we've done hasn't gone unnoticed,” centre Bryan Chiu said. “We have to do the job for him to be successful. But we don't expect gifts.”

Added guard Scott Flory: “He got a lot of his yards on his own. He's special.”

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