Adam Bighill named Most Outstanding Defensive Player

EDMONTON — There was plenty of hype when Adam Bighill announced his return to the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Blue Bombers.

In the end, the seventh-year linebacker more than backed it up, earning Most Outstanding Defensive Player honours on Thursday night at the 2018 Shaw CFL Awards in Edmonton.

“For me, it’s just about getting back to playing football like I’ve done before, and, you know, getting used to being around new teammates, a new coaching staff, new way of doing things and building new chemistry,” Bighill told members of the media after accepting his award. “It was just a fun year for me, sharing that with my teammates.”

It was the second time in his career winning the award after claiming the honour in 2015 with the BC Lions following a 117-tackle season.

Bighill was equally impressive in his first year with Winnipeg, recording 105 tackles while adding four sacks, two interceptions and a league-leading four forced fumbles to help the Blue Bombers clinch a playoff berth. His 127 defensive plays were the third-most in the league this season.

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A key part of the Winnipeg defence since his arrival, Bighill led a defence that finished tied for first with 49 takeaways, second in points allowed (23.3 per game) and tied for the second-fewest yards allowed per play (6.0). They also ended the season with a turnover ratio of plus-13.

The Montesano, Wash. native called Vancouver his CFL home for six seasons before playing his trade south of the border in 2017. The award marks the fifth time a Blue Bomber has won, and the first since Jovon Johnson won in 2011. The other Blue Bombers to win the award include Greg Battle (1991 and 1990) and Tyrone Jones (1985).

“I played six years in BC, and went down to the NFL, it obviously wasn’t the best because I’m back here now, but the one thing that I understood was I could come back up here and I could get back to having a lot of fun playing football,” he said of his return after a year south of the border. “I turned down an offer from Tampa Bay to come back and play in the CFL.

“I could have very easily said that I’m going to stick down here and make it work, but I knew I had an opportunity and get back to doing what I was doing here in the CFL. That was the decision I made, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Bighill becomes the ninth player to win Most Outstanding Defensive Player on multiple occasions since it was first awarded in 1974. He received 57 first-place votes, getting the edge over Ticats linebacker Larry Dean.