Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Ben Cahoon-One Fine Receiver

On a brilliant sunlit Thanksgiving Day in Montreal, Ben Cahoon celebrated a brief moment in his stellar career. He had just caught a pass from his old pal, Anthony Calvillo, the 1 007 pass he has received in the Canadian Football League. He now has the distinction of catching more passes than any receiver, ever, in the history of the CFL.

With that reception, he surpassed the mark established some years ago by Terry Vaughn. Another notables on that list include: Darren Flutie with 972, and Allen Pitts, with 966 receptions. Pitts spent his entire career in Calgary with the Stampeders. Cahoon has been with the Alouettes since day one, having been drafted in the first round of the 1998 draft.

That same year, the Alouettes went shopping for a quarterback. On March 18, 1998, they signed a young free agent who had been discarded by the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Anthony Calvillo, without question, has been the leader of the Alouettes since that time. He has also used Cahoon as a prime target for twelve years.

The game was halted last Monday,momentarily, as Commissioner Mark Cohon presented Cahoon with an award. Cahoon graciously accepted the award. “I’m glad that it is finally behind me,” he told the television audience, surrounded by his wife and family.

Although he was born in Orem, Utah, and is a devout Mormon, Cahoon spent much of his youth in southern Alberta, and qualifies as a “non import” within the rules of the CFL. In that same vein, he qualified as the “Most Outstanding Canadian” player in the league in 2002 and 2003. He was also the Most Outstanding Canadian in the Grey Cup games in 2002 and 2009, winning his second Grey Cup with the Alouettes in 2009. He is the all-time leading receiver in Grey Cup history with 632 yards.

Two of the most remarkable features about Calhoon are the following: he has played his entire CFL career with one team, almost unheard of in these transient days, and secondly, he stands five feet nine inches in thick socks and football cleats. He is relatively tiny in today’s game, especially for the type of game that he plays. He has always been willing to run patterns across the middle, and take the licks that opposing linebackers love to give.

In his thirteen year career, he has only missed nine games due to injury. He has always been resilient, and elusive. (At that size, he had to be to survive!)

The combination of Calvillo and Cahoon has been recognized by the CFL as one of the greatest of all time. Sam Etcheverry tossed a few fine passes over the years to Hal Patterson for the Alouettes. Russ Jackson found Whit Tucker on many occasions for the Ottawa Rough Riders. Warren Moon could always find Brian Kelly for the Eskimos. Saskatchewan Rough Rider fans remember the days when the ‘Little General” Ron Lancaster threw strikes to Hugh Campbell. All well and good, but none surpassed the marks set by Cahoon and Calvillo, for distance and for longevity.

There have been several outstanding receivers for the Alouettes over the past thirteen years. But they have come and gone, and Cahoon has survived and prospered.

The Alouettes have yet again clawed their way to the top of the Eastern Division, with their victory Monday over the Calgary Stampeders. They will likely play for the right to defend the Grey Cup in late November.

Cahoon will be wearing Number 86. Watch as he sneaks out of the backfield, snares a pass from Calvillo, and ends up under a pile of several three hundred pound tacklers. He will scramble to his feet, kick off the dust, and ready himself for the next play. Truly a remarkable athlete in the Canadian Football League.

James Hurst
12 October 2010

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