Derek Wiggan knows he’s joined an illustrious list of Calgary Stampeders greats.
When the defensive tackle was announced as the winner of the 2022 Presidents’ Ring, it was a recognition of “excellence on and off the field” from his teammates. That alone counts for a lot.
And it put him in some incredible company.
The Presidents’ Ring has been handed out to 37 different men since its introduction back in 1967, including Stampeders legends such as Henry Burris, Keon Raymond, Wayne Harris, Willie Burden and Danny Barrett.
That’s the first thing that came to Wiggan’s mind when he was told he was the 2022 recipient.
“It’s special because we’ve have so many great dudes come through this locker-room (and) who are still in the locker-room,” Wiggan said. “It’s just nice to be mentioned with those guys, because those guys were great players for so many years and I looked up to them … You think about all the past guys.“
You won’t find many people willing to argue against Wiggan as a rightful recipient of the Presidents’ Ring. Candidates are judged on their in-game contributions, leadership, inspiration and motivational skills.
On the field this season, Wiggan has started all 17 games at defensive tackle and is a vital part of a unit that leads the CFL in sacks and is near the top in run defence and fewest points allowed.
He has 21 tackles, including four tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery.
In his seventh year with the Stamps, the Toronto native and Queen’s University product is also one of the Stampeders’ captains and the team’s representative for the CFL Players Association.
“I remember when we drafted him, I remember it vividly, he had a bigger lower body but was still in that 255 (lb.) range and I’m not sure he’s hit the three bills yet but he’s approaching that,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “I do believe he’s gotten better. That’s hard to do when you’ve been here this long.
“Congratulations to him, that shows you what the guys think of him.”
The fact that the voting for the Presidents’ Ring is done by his Stampeders teammates only made it more special for Wiggan. They’re the guys who know him best, after all. They seem him in the locker-room and on the field and on the sideline.
Their appreciation counts for a lot.
“Those guys know me, I come to work, I try to be the same guy every day,” Wiggan said. “It’s great, just thinking about the past guys who have won it here and the type of leaders they were, so it’s nice to be in the same breath as those guys.”
Dedrick Mills had a monster game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday evening.
On Tuesday morning, that earned him a shout-out from the CFL as one of the league’s three Performers of the Week.
Mills ran the ball 11 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, while also making three catches for 22 yards in the Stamps’ 32-21 win.
“I feel I’m very excited to be a CFL performer of the week,” Mills said. “Had to go out and perform for the team and I’m glad for the o-line for helping me get to this position, so thank you.”
The Stampeders’ run game was ridiculous on Saturday, but the only question was whether the fact that Mills and Ka’Deem Carey were such a dynamic combination might somehow be seen as a knock against either of them individually by the CFL’s voters.
Fortunately, they saw fit to give one of the Stamps’ two running backs the honour, although Mills said it was shared with both Carey and his o-line.
“Most definitely, we practised very well all week, so when we got out in the game we made it look easy and we’re just going to come do it again this week,” Mills said.
HONESTLY, WHO KNOWS?
There wasn’t much to be taken from Tuesday’s practice at McMahon Stadium as the Stamps prepare to wrap up their regular season and get ready for the West Division Semifinal against the host B.C. Lions on Nov. 6.
The Stamps have a lot of options with the likes of receivers Kamar Jorden and Malik Henry, and defensive back Titus Wall increasing their workload.
That doesn’t mean much, though. With a meaningless game, in terms of the standings, against the visiting Riders up next on Saturday (6 p.m., TSN/770 CHQR), there’s no point pushing anyone into action before they’re 100% ready.
“I don’t necessarily feel like anyone needs to gut one out this game, because I’ve got enough options,” Dickenson said. “At certain positions, there are no other options so that will occur, and it is what it is, that’s professional football, if it’s close and I feel like it’s best just to let them have one more week, I will.”