OTTAWA — Mike Reilly would gladly change places with Ricky Ray.
The Edmonton Eskimos quarterback was named the CFL’s outstanding player by the Football Reporters of Canada and eight league coaches (77 votes) on Thursday night. Ray was the runner-up but will lead the Toronto Argonauts into the Grey Cup against the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday.
"I pictured this with 80 players who were responsible for me being on this stage," Reilly said. "In 2015, I wasn’t on this stage but I was standing on the stage that mattered (receiving Grey Cup trophy).
"To the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts, you guys have the chance to be on the stage together and that’s what we play for. My biggest regret is not having my guys here with me."
Reilly, 32, started all 18 regular-season games and led Edmonton (12-6) to five straight wins to end the regular season and clinch third in the West Division despite numerous injuries. The six-foot-three, 230-pound Reilly received 64 votes after leading the CFL in passing (5,830 yards) and finishing tied with Ottawa’s Trevor Harris for most TDs (30).
Reilly also ran for 12 TDs and had 39 completions of 30-plus yards, both league-best marks. Edmonton led the CFL in net offence (406.8 yards), offensive points (27.2 per game) and offensive touchdowns (52) while allowing a league-low 29 sacks.
Ray, 38, started 17 regular-season games after appearing in just 12 the past two seasons due to various injuries. Ray led the CFL in pass attempts (668) and completions (442), finished tied with Reilly for most 300-yard games (12) and second in passing yards (5,546).
It was Ray’s first 5,000-yard season since ’08 and fourth of his career. He joins Hall of Famers Anthony Calvillo and Doug Flutie as the only players to reach that plateau four or more times.