History of the CFL Specialty Awards

By Staff Writer – Jason Langvee

With the announcement of the 2014 Annis Stukus Trophy winner being held yesterday in Winnipeg, we wanted to break down each of the specialty awards and give you fans just a little insight into the namesakes that each reward boasts. The league’s Most Outstanding Player, Rookie of the Year and other statistically-derived awards are important as they acknowledge the successes our players experience each season. The following 4 awards though, are selected for not only the contributions a player or coach makes on the field, but the way they represent themselves and their organizations in their daily lives.

Specialty-Awards

(From left to right) John Agro, Tom Pate, Jake Gaudaur, Annis Stukus

John Agro Special Teams Award

  • 2014 Recipient – Swayze Waters (K/P), Toronto Argonauts
  • The John Agro Special Teams Award is awarded to the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams player as voted by his peers.
  • John Agro was a former Hamilton Tiger-Cat and co-founder of the CFL Players Association.
    • After acting as general counsel for many of Hamilton’s players at the time, Agro saw a need for league-wide organization. In 1965 Agro invited players from around the league to Toronto. They held a meeting and then decided that they would send a letter to all 251 players of the CFL, asking if they wanted to form a players association. Players voted almost unanimously to form what is now known as the CFLPA.

Tom Pate Memorial Award

  • 2014 Recipient – Randy Chevrier (LS), Calgary Stampeders
  • The Tom Pate Memorial Award, selected annually by the CFLPA, is awarded to a player with outstanding sportsmanship and someone who has made a significant contribution to his team, his community and Association.
  • Tom Pate was a graduate of the University of Nebraska. As a Cornhusker, Pate was a 3 time letterman and a member their 1971 National Championship team. He joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1975 and as a rookie played 12 regular season games.
    • On October 18, 1975, playing against the Stampeders in Calgary, he suffered an aneurysm late in the fourth quarter. Pate was critically injured on the play after striking his head on the McMahon Stadium turf. Only 23 at the time, he never regained consciousness and died three days later.
    • In 1976 the Canadian Football League Players’ Association named its sportsmanship and community service award after him.

Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Trophy

  • 2014 Recipient – James Yurichuk (LB), Toronto Argonauts
  • The Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Trophy is presented annually to the CFL player “Who best demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans in times of war, peace and military conflict.”
  • The award is presented by the CFL and Veterans Affairs Canada to recognize the contributions of Gaudaur and the sacrifices of Canada’s military veterans. Jake Gaudaur served as CFL Commissioner from 1968-1984, after playing for the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes.
    • In 1940, aged 19, he began playing football and joined the Hamilton Tigers. The following year he played for the Toronto Argonauts. Gaudaur served as a pilot in the Second World Warr and won the 30th Grey Cup with the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes in the 1942 season.
    • Following the war, Gaudaur played for, and was part owner of, the Toronto Indians of the Ontario Rugby Football Union (1945–1946) and then played for the Montreal Alouettes during the 1947 season.
    • Gaudaur returned to Hamilton to stay in 1948. When the Tigers merged with the Hamilton Flying Wildcats in 1950, Gaudaur became team captain of the resulting Hamilton Tiger-Cats and played through the 1951 season. In 1952, he left the playing field to become director of the team but returned to play a final year in the 1953 season winning the Tiger-Cats first Grey Cup.
  • Read his Canadian Football Hall of Fame bio here: http://www.cfhof.ca/hall-of-fame-members/players/j-g-jake-gaudaur/?pageId=203&tracking_page=Players

Annis Stukus Trophy

  • 2014 Recipient – John Hufnagel (HC/GM), Calgary Stampeders
  • The Annis Stukus Trophy is presented annually by the Edmonton Eskimos Alumni Association to the Coach of the Year, as determined by the members of the Football Reporters of Canada.
  • Annis Paul Stukus was a Canadian football player, coach and general manager, as well as an ice hockey general manager.
    • In 1949, he helped organize the Edmonton Eskimos’ reentry into the Western Interprovincial Football Union and served as their head coach for three seasons. In 1953, he turned his services to the expansion BC Lions, serving as head coach and general manager.
    • Annis was one of the famed Stukus brothers. Both Bill and Frank Stukus were Grey Cup champions. Indeed, while with the Argonauts all three played in the backfield at the same time, and won the Grey Cup together in 1938.
    • He was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and 1991, respectively.
  • Read his Canadian Football Hall of Fame bio here: http://www.cfhof.ca/hall-of-fame-members/players/annis-stukus-2/?pageId=203&tracking_page=Players
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