Alford and Clark collect hardware at CFL Awards


The Saskatchewan Roughriders won’t be able to win the Grey Cup on home turf this week, but a couple of players were able to collect hardware at the CFL Awards on Thursday night.

Returner Mario Alford won the Special Teams Player of the Year award and centre Dan Clark was named the 2022 Jake Gaudaur Veterans Award winner

Alford was acquired by the Roughriders after a trade with Montreal Alouettes to help provide Jamal Morrow some relief in the green and white return game, the 30 year old would go to take the Riders special teams to a new level.

He finished the season with league high four return touchdowns including the special teams trifecta of returning a punt, a kickoff and two missed field goals for touchdowns in 2022.

It has been a successful week for Alford, as earlier this week he agreed to a new contract with Saskatchewan that will keep him Riderville in 2023. Before joining the Riders,  the West Virginia Cavalier spent three seasons in Montreal after he played his rookie season in Toronto.

This is the second time a Roughrider has claimed the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player Award, Corey Holmes won the award in 2002 & 2005.

The Riders returner believes he’s capable of creating an explosive play when he touches the ball.

“I just have confidence in myself, it’s through the roof, I’ve always felt that way, if I’m on the field, playing and got the ball in my hands, I feel like something great is going to happen.”

He appreciated the Roughriders giving him another chance following the trade with Montreal, adding that he was happy to repay the favour by staying healthy this year.

“During those plays of the game you just like, stay healthy, stay healthy. ” He continued. “That’s key when you’re healthy, you can help your teammates out.”

The decision to agree to a new contract with Saskatchewan was a simple one for the returner.

“The deal was right, we felt like it was good deal, we got it done, also I love Rider nation so I wanted to be back. ”

Alford confirmed that his new contract with the Roughriders is a one year deal.

Riders Dan ClarkThe Jake Gaudaur Veterans Award was created in his honour, a distinguished Second World War veteran and the longest serving commissioner in CFL history. The award recognizes a Canadian player who embodies the attributes of Canada’s veterans and the ones held by it namesake: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to Canadian communities.

In Week 2, Clark suffered a broken fibula that sidelined the Riders centre until Week 17. This was the second major injury he suffered since 2019, when he was injured in an accident while travelling back from speaking engagement.

Besides his responsibilities on the field, the 34 year old supports many community programs including the Red Cross and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital. With the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation, he supports the Game Changers Playbook, Win with Wellness program and Rider Reading Month.

The bond that Clark shares with his teammates was big piece of motivation for him as he recovered from his injury this season.

“No matter that situation, I will put my brothers before me, and it wasn’t so much, you know getting back and having that success, it was about going to war with my brothers. ”

Since becoming a member of the green and white, Clark says Rider nation has inspired to give back to the community.

“At that point of my career when I had the opportunity to do community involvement, I started to see that engagement, I started seeing kids look up to me.”

The centre added that his own kids provide motivation as well.

“Now all I want to do is make my province a better place for my son and daughter to grow up in. I want them to never to be able to face a situation and think to themselves I’m just to keep it to myself. Rather, I’d rather them talk to somebody, I’d rather them get help, I’d rather them seek help, if we let know youth they’re not alone, that makes a huge difference especially coming from a professional athlete.”

There were a couple of other Saskatchewan connections at the CFL Awards on Thursday. Taebyn Tulp of Outlook was named the inaugural recipient of the Glenn “Keeper” McWhinney Scholarship Award. She will attend the University of Saskatchewan next year.

The Roughriders Director of Ticket Operations, Gail Mund received the Jane Mawby Tribute Award. The award recognizes a highly valued, unsung current employee for a team or the league.

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