Write Cody Grace’s name in the CFL history books.
He’s the first global player ever to be named to one of the league’s all-star teams.
The Calgary Stampeders punter was one of seven players from the team who got voted to the league’s West Division all-star squad. Other players selected in the CFL’s Global Draft have made an impact, but none of them have ever made an all-star team.
That’s no small thing.
But Grace, from Perth, Australia, has made a big impact on the Stampeders this year, steadily improving from the start of training camp and leading the entire league with a net punting average of 41.5 yards and pinning opponents inside their own 10-yard line on eight separate occasions.
So does it matter to Grace that he’s the first global player to earn all-star honours? Well, sort of.
“It’s an interesting question, I think it’s just a label they put on you,” Grace said after Wednesday’s practice at McMahon Stadium. “You’re American, you’re Canadian or you’re from a different country. You’re just a player at the end of the day.”
Outside of the Stampeders coaching staff, little was known about Grace heading into training camp. He’d punted at Arkansas State, so he was obviously punting, but it’s not like there’s a long history of Australians coming up to Canada and succeeding in the CFL.
Now, though? It’s hard to imagine that Grace won’t be sticking around Calgary and punting the ball for the Stampeders for as long as he wanted to. The global player program, officially called CFL 2.0, wasn’t really expected to produce guys who made a massive impact right off the bat, but Grace didn’t just succeed for a global player, he succeeded, period.
Head coach Dave Dickenson wasn’t surprised.
“Well deserved, he’s been right there with the tops in our league,” Dickenson said. “Natural progression, we’ve had some pretty good punters (from around the world), Boris Bede, Rene (Paredes), they’re globals. I mean, they are. Rene’s been living in Canada for quite a while.”
Along with Grace, the Stamps had six other West Division all-star winners.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey, centre Sean McEwen, receiver Kamar Jorden, defensive tackle Mike Rose, linebacker Darnell Sankey and Paredes were also honoured.
“It’s a great feeling, to know you set a goal and you achieved it,” said Sankey, who led the CFL in tackles. “It’s also a great feeling to have a great team that supports me and a a staff that got me here, that helped me get here.”
When the Stampeders signed Randy Chevrier and Ben Whiting last week to serve as potential backup long-snappers, it was ostensibly because Cory Greenwood was being added to the six-game injured list.
Greenwood was the backup long-snapper behind Aaron Crawford, and the Stamps didn’t feel comfortable going into the playoffs without at least two players who were capable of long-snapping, basically.
Well, Greenwood was removed from the six-game on Wednesday morning after getting medically cleared. He practised with the team on Wednesday.
Four long-snappers is more than any team needs, so it’s unclear how this will all play out.
“100%, no, we don’t (need four long-snappers),” Dickenson acknowledged. “Cory got medically cleared this morning, now we’ve got to see if he can get ready to play. It’s been a while, it’s not like he had a small injury, he’s messing with his shoulder and it’s a violent game, it’s a tough game.
“We’re a better team with Cory on the field. Listen, Cory is just an emergency long-snapper, anyways, I’m not even sure if he’s done it in a game. He’d probably tell me he has but you might have to go back to Concordia … Cory’s a good football player, Cory can play at a lot of positions for us and will make an impact if I can get him on the field.”
Understandably there has been some speculation that the vaccination-status of various players is affecting these decisions because unvaccinated players cannot travel to the West Final, although there is nothing official about the vaccination status of any of the players involved here.
Former Stampeders linebacker Wynton McManis signed with the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday, according to his Instagram … For those wondering why Malik Henry has been missing from practice and did not play in Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, he is dealing with a death in his family … Name an offensive or defensive starter for the Stampeders, and they were practising on Wednesday. They appear to have a full group heading into the West Division Semifinal.