Calgary Stampeders’ Derek Wiggan named Presidents’ Ring winner again


Veteran joins élite class of CFL stars to have won team’s leadership award twice

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Derek Wiggan isn’t big on bright lights.

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But the Calgary Stampeders defensive star is large on doing his job and leading his team both on and off the field, which he’s done well enough to be named the club’s Presidents’ Ring winner for the second straight CFL season.

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So the veteran lineman would rather just slip in quietly and step out quickly from all the centre-stage stuff that comes with being on honoured by his teammates.

“I don’t need a spotlight,” said the soft-spoken Wiggan, after learning of the accolade Tuesday. “I want to make plays and live up to high standards I set for myself, but I don’t need all the lights and cameras in action, right?

“Like I want us as a team to be successful, and I pour my heart into this team,” continued the 31-year-old. “When we lose, I take it pretty hard — I have a hard time sleeping at night. The award’s nice, but as long as we win, that’s the main thing for me.”

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With Wiggan, it seems the Stampeders (6-11) — who next suit up for their regular-season finale on Friday night against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (13-4) at McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN, QR Calgary FM) — have a better chance to win.

After all, the steady d-lineman is as consistent as they come on the club.

Wiggan is a seven-year veteran who has played 137 career regular-season and post-season games for the Red and White. He has started all 17 games at tackle this season and tied his career high with four sacks. The 6-foot-1, 303-lb. Toronto native also has 15 tackles, including a tackle for a loss.

“I just kind of do my thing,” Wiggan said. “The nature my position is you just kind of do dirty work, and that’s kind of my thing.

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“I show up to the stadium at the same time, kind of treat every game like it’s a brand new week and don’t get too high and don’t get too low — just kind of be even-keel. I’ve been here a while, so I kind of know how that whole season process is. Guys ask me, ‘OK, what about this situation or that situation?’ I just keep that all in perspective. I think the guys appreciate kind of like my view on things.”

They certainly seem to since he joins an élite class of Stampeders to have won the team award on multiple occasions.

The list is not long of others with more than one Presidents’ Ring — which has been presented annually since 1967 to the Stampeders player who best demonstrates excellence on and off the field for their in-game contributions, leadership, inspiration and motivational skills as voted by the players.

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In fact, Wiggan becomes the 16th player to have earned it at least a second time.

Henry Burris, Danny Barrett and Stu Laird each won the award on three occasions, while Wiggan joins the group of two-time recipients that includes Rob Cote, Keon Raymond, Jay McNeil, Alondra Johnson, Wayne Harris, Allen Pitts, Lloyd Fairbanks, Bernie Morrison, Ed McAleney, James Sykes, Willie Burden and Jerry Keeling.

“It’s pretty humbling,” Wiggan said. “Not many guys get voted for it twice, so it’s just nice that the guys think of me in that light.

“I just try to be the same dude every day, so it’s nice to be appreciated.”

Wiggan has been a dude — specifically a defensive stalwart — since being selected by the Stamps with the 34th overall pick in the 2014 CFL Draft.

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The Queen’s University alumnus is one of the Stampeders’ captains this season and is also the team’s representative for the CFL Players Association.

Wiggan has played 127 career regular-season games for the Stamps, accumulating 159 tackles — including 13 for a loss — 19 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and two pass knockdowns. He has also appeared in 10 post-season contests and was a member of the Grey Cup-championship team in 2018.

“Corey Mace, Junior Turner, Micah Johnson, Charleston Hughes, Shawn Lewon, Freddie Bishop, Juwan Simpson — when he was a player — Nik Lewis, Jon Cornish — when he was here — Bo Levi Mitchell … the list goes on and on and on,” said Wiggan of former teammates he learned from in becoming a veteran Stamps star. “Coaches-wise, Rich Stubler, DeVone Claybrooks, Brent Monson … the list goes on and on. So it’s just like I’ve learned from everybody, so they’re all part of my journey.”

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Now, others are learning from Wiggan, a two-time Presidents’ Ring winner.

“I congratulate Derek for once again being named the winner of this prestigious award,” added Stampeders president John Hufnagel. “This is further proof of how much he is respected and valued by his teammates and is also very highly regarded by the Stampeders’ coaching staff and management. Derek is unquestionably one of the pillars of our team both on and off the field.”

SHORT YARDAGE

OL Sean McEwen, the Stamps centre, is a first-time father. Him and his better half, Stephanie, welcomed daughter Olivia into the world earlier this week. “He’s a dad,” said Stamps GM/head coach Dave Dickenson. “And everything’s healthy.” … LB Brandon Dozier (pulled muscle) got banged up in the win and didn’t practise early this week, but Dickenson hopes the strong-side linebacker is ready for Friday’s game. “Muscle pulls in the cold weather are tougher,” Dickenson said. “With the field conditions and the colder weather, I thought it was smart not to have him (or other injured players) out there.” … With one more win, the Stamps become the first team in Canadian football to amass 700 victories, using the creation of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (the forerunner to the CFL’s current East Division) in 1907 and the Western Interprovincial Football Union (precursor of the modern-day West Division) in 1936 as CFL-recognized starting points.

tsaelhof@postmedia.com

http://www.x.com/ToddSaelhofPM

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