December 19, 2022

The Weekly Say: A look back at 2022

Christian Bender/

The 2022 season was one loaded with excitement, as fans across the country basked in a full schedule for the first time since 2019. The 21-week regular season didn’t disappoint and was capped by a thrilling playoff run that saw the Toronto Argonauts spoil the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ hopes for a Grey Cup three-peat. Instead, the Argos lifted the Grey Cup for the 18th time, making history of their own as the league’s leaders in all-time Grey Cup wins.

Of course, that’s a bird’s eye view on the season from a few thousand feet (or a few hundred metres) up. Some of’s writers get into the nitty gritty of the freshly-completed campaign, from the biggest newsmakers to the best moments and games of 2022.

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Who was the CFL’s newsmaker of the year?
Nathan Rourke


There was no debate on this question, with BC Lions’ quarterback Nathan Rourke the first name off the fingertips of our writers.

“No reason to overthink this,” said Matthew Cauz. “The second-year quarterback was the league’s biggest story right from the start as he put up Doug Flutie-like numbers until his Week 11 injury. Rourke was so good he stole the spotlight from a Winnipeg Blue Bombers team that was also dominating the CFL while attempting to capture a Grey Cup three-peat.”

“From questions about the gamble the Lions were taking, starting a Canadian quarterback with one-year experience in the league, to his draw-dropping start to the season, Nathan Rourke made news,” offered Jim Morris.

“His injury sidelined a probable Most Outstanding Player award and his return helped the Lions win their first playoff game since 2016.”

To that end, Don Landry went with Rourke but got more specific in terms of the newsiest part of his story, suggesting Rourke’s injured right foot.

“Sure, the guy attached to that foot owned the news cycles during the first half of the season with his lights-out play, but that foot of his ruled the second half,” Landry said.

“I’d never even heard of a Lisfranc sprain before, but that right foot of Nathan Rourke’s made us all very well-versed in just exactly what that was in the weeks that followed.”

Who was the person of the year?
Henoc Muamba

Landry and Morris both went with the most emotional player on the Grey Cup stage last month, in linebacker Henoc Muamba.

“The veteran linebacker was crucial to the fates of the Toronto Argonauts all season long,” Landry said.
“Then he really stepped up during Grey Cup week as the heart, soul and conscience of the team, emerging as the undisputed leader, even of other leaders.”

“It would be easy to say Rourke again, but Henoc Muamba battling tears after the Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup, and him being just the second player in CFL history to be named both Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian in the game, sticks in my mind,” Morris said.

Cauz looked beyond the field and chose BC Lions’ owner Amar Doman.

“The new owner of the Lions helped kickoff the season in style with an opening day home crowd of 34,082 that was part rock concert and part football game,” Cauz said.

“Amar had such big shoes to fill considering the last owner was the legendary David Braley. Home attendance was way up, the team played its first home playoff game since 2016 and in early November it was announced that the Lions will host the 2024 Grey Cup. Not a bad first year.”

Who was the story of the year?
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Blue Bombers’ quest for the first Grey Cup three-peat in 42 years fell short, but they held fans’ attention all year with their dominance (Christian Bender/

While Rourke captured Canadian football fans’ attention across the country with his inspired play, the team that everyone was chasing all season got the majority of the nods for story of the year.

“Once Rourke went down, the spotlight went right back to the Bombers,” Cauz said.

“Yes, they failed to win their third straight Grey Cup but they had the best regular season record and scored the most points while allowing the fewest. Individually, Zach Collaros won the MOP, Mike O’Shea won Coach of the Year, Stanley Bryant was named Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and Dalton Schoen was named the Rookie of the Year. The Bombers put together a proper title defence.”

“Not so much who, but could the Winnipeg Blue Bombers make it three championships in a row?” Morris said.

“They were not always the best team in the league, but they had the best record and advanced to their third straight final. A close second would be Bo Levi Mitchell being replaced as the starting quarterback in Calgary and where he will play next.”

Landry couldn’t shake the image of Muamba’s triumph in the Grey Cup game.

“In capping his storybook Grey Cup week by being named the game’s Most Valuable Player, the veteran then went on an emotional, whirlwind “is this real life?” celebration tour, and 11 years of pent up hope, work and determination all just came flooding out,” Landry said. “Muamba’s giddy, grateful elation had to have struck a chord with anyone who loves this game, this league and the people associated with it.”

Who is the comeback player of the year?
Larry Dean

A variety of answers to this question made it one of the toughest to settle on, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ linebacker got the nod in light of the adversity he overcame and the level he played at when he finally did get back on the field.

(“Dean) missed two straight years of football, the second coming when he suffered an Achilles injury during 2021 training camp,” Landry said. “In 2022, he looked simply splendid, finishing second in the CFL in defensive plays made, with 122.”

“The injury itself is a very difficult hurdle for any athlete to overcome. That Dean did it and produced the way he did at the age of 34 makes his season even more remarkable,” said senior writer Chris O’Leary.

“There are a lot of worthy candidates in this discussion but to me, Dean is at the top of the list.”

Cauz looked at Calgary Stampeders’ linebacker Cameron Judge and the bounce back he enjoyed in 2022.

“This was the hardest choice to make,” he said. “From a pure story perspective, you could easily give it to Larry Dean. But I’m giving it to another linebacker, in Cameron Judge, who went from invisible in nine games with Toronto in 2021 to being named both a Western Division All-Star and a CFL All-Star for the first time in his career with the Calgary Stampeders.”

Morris looked East for his selection.

“After injuries limited him to just six games with Hamilton in 2021, Lorenzo Mauldin IV had a league-leading 17 sacks in 18 games for the Ottawa REDBLACKS this year. He was a CFL All-Star and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.”

Who is the breakout star of the year?
Dalton Schoen

Dalton Schoen made trips to the end zone a weekly habit in his debut season with the Bombers (The Canadian Press)

Somewhat lost in the vast success that the Bombers enjoyed across the board in 2022 was the dominance that Schoen showed as a rookie in the CFL.

“While Rourke rightfully grabbed a lot of headlines, Winnipeg receiver Dalton Schoen led the CFL in receiving yards, touchdown catches and average  yards per catch,” Morris said, making his case for Schoen as this year’s breakout star.

“Schoen’s 1,441 yards weren’t just Rookie of the Year worthy,” O’Leary said. “In another season with different scenarios they’re worth consideration for MOP discussion. Collaros’ career year leading the winningest team in the league overshadowed that — which is a good problem for any team to have — but I feel like the significance of Schoen’s season wasn’t fully grasped at points this season.”

“Schoen fits the bill here for sure,” Landry said, but I like to look at this category from the standpoint of a player who had been toiling away without notice in a previous season or seasons before igniting in a big flash.

Montreal defensive back Wesley Sutton went from sparingly used in 2021 to standout defensive mainstay in 2022. He was the highest-ranking DB on the ‘defensive plays’ list, coming in at No. 7 with 99 plays made, including nine knockdowns, four sacks and two forced fumbles.”

Taking a cue from Morris, Cauz went with Lorenzo Mauldin IV as his breakout choice.

“(Mauldin) did something we haven’t seen for nearly a decade: He won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award while representing an Eastern team,” Cauz said.

“Since Chip Cox in 2013 it’s been a whole lot of Adam Bighills and Willie Jeffersons claiming the honour. Lorenzo went from a role player with a total of 17 games played, 13 total tackles and four sacks before the 2022 season. He dwarfed all those numbers with a league-leading 17 sacks playing in all 18 games for Ottawa.”

Who had the best one-game performance of the year?
Nathan Rourke

“In Week 9, Rourke set a single-game standard in completion percentage (minimum 30 attempts) in a blowout win over Edmonton, completing 34 of 37 passes,” Landry said. “He also set a record for passing yards by a Canadian with 477, throwing five touchdown passes. And he scored a rushing touchdown too.”

Morris opted for Rourke as well, but went with a different game.

“Rourke completing 39 of 45 passes for 427 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-3 win over Toronto. At the time it was a record for most yards thrown by a Canadian quarterback. He would throw for 488 against Calgary later in the year.”

Dane Evans‘ performance against the Bombers in Week 15 left a lasting impression on Cauz.

“Rourke had better numbers (477 yards, five touchdowns against Calgary) but give me the Tiger-Cats quarterback whose job was on the line at that time lighting up the best defence in the CFL,” he said.

Evans was 25-32 for 327 yards with five touchdown passes, as he helped the Ticats hand the Bombers their worst loss of the regular season and just one of three blemishes on their record.

“Rourke’s day was better for fantasy owners but from a degree of difficulty standpoint I will go with Dane.”

What was the game of the year?
The 109th Grey Cup


“It has to be the Argonauts’ 24-23 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup. The win was an upset. The game had plenty of drama,” Morris said.

Landry’s choice was more specific.

“The fourth quarter of the Grey Cup,” he said. “With a record-setting 102-yard punt return for a touchdown, another huge punt return setting up another major, two big interceptions, a seldom-used first-year quarterback coming in part-way through to make big plays — including converting a critical second-and-long situation with a 20-yard run — and not one but two blocked field goals in the final three minutes…boy, howdy, that’s a whole game’s worth of excitement right there.”

“Some years after a Grey Cup game, you sit in bewilderment at what just happened and how we got to this point,” O’Leary said. “The Argos’ win over the Bombers might be the best example of that that I can think of. This league is so rich in its history that it’s hard to say one game or one player or one moment stands above the rest. This year’s Grey Cup deserves to be a part of that discussion, however complicated it might be.”

Cauz couldn’t shake the excellent drama that the Stamps and Lions managed to conjure up every time they met in 2022. He went with the Lions’ 41-40 Week 10 win over the Stamps as his game of the year.

“The best ending of the year was that wild fourth quarter of the Grey Cup but the best game saw 81 points, eight touchdowns scored including one off of a Nathan Rourke interception and a 99-yard kickoff return by Peyton Logan,” he said. “The Lions trailed 40-31 with under three minutes left but managed to come back on the strength of two clutch drives to end the contest.”

Who was the top Canadian in 2022?
Nathan Rourke

“Have we mentioned Nathan Rourke?” Morris said. “I also think Argonaut receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. , who had 81 catches for 1,101 yards and five touchdowns, is deserving.”

Nathan Rourke. I do not even need to explain why,” said Landry.

“Rourke’s impact was so profound, even with his injury robbing him/us of half a season of his play,” O’Leary said. “A lot of great Canadians get lost in this conversation because of Rourke’s greatness, but he’s the only answer this year.”

“Let’s end where we started,” Cauz said, going with Rourke. “Wishing him nothing but the best in 2023, no matter where he is playing.”

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