He had one heck of a season, but he won’t be recognized by the CFL for it.
Roughrider kicker Brett Lauther was the Roughriders nominee for most outstanding special teams player, but he did not move on to be the west division nominee. That honour went to B.C. Lions punter/kicker Ty Long.
That’s despite a better completion percentage – Lauther had 90 percent, Long 87.8 percent – kicking the ball further – Lauther completed two from 56 yards out, Long from 52 – and having to kick most those field goals – 60 altogether – outdoors, whereas long kicked half of them in the comfort of B.C.’s indoor stadium.
“Ty did a great job doing all three phases (field goals, punts and kickoffs) but … certain guys in the league look at different stats differently. I mean even over in Ottawa (where east division nominee Lewis Ward kicks) their average field goal length is less than an extra point that we kick, so it’s kind of tough to compete when people look at whatever your statistics were percentage-wise compared to the actual season you had for your team,” Lauther said.
Take for example, that the Roughriders won six games by five points or less. Lauther’s field goals in all of those games gave the team the edge they needed to win. In the Sept 22. game against Toronto specifically, Lauther kicked a game-winning 56-yard field goal.
vs HAM: Lauther was 2/2 incl. a 52 yarder
vs B.C.: Lauther was 3/4 incl. a 44 yarder
vs WPG (banjo bowl): Lauther was 6/6 incl. a 45 yarder
vs TOR: Lauther was 3/3 incl. gaming winning 56 yarder
vs MON: Lauther was 2/2 (longest: 35 yards)
vs CAL: Lauther was 5/5 incl. 50 yarder
— Arielle Zerr (@arielle_zerr) November 8, 2018
By the same metric, B.C. has won four games by five points or less.
Lauther hoped that those were some of the things voters – who include members of the Football Reporters of Canada and the league’s head coaches – would have considered.
“I think you factor those in if you were doing the voting but obviously they don’t and I can’t change it so, it is what it is,” Lauther shrugged.
After all, in some ways just being in the CFL this season is a victory for Lauther. The kicker was drafted in 2013 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played three games and then waited. And waited. And waited for another opportunity.
It didn’t knock for another five years. This season, with Tyler Crapigna needing surgery, the Riders were in need of a kicker and Lauther showed them he was up for the task.
It takes a certain type of persistence to be told no over and over and over again and keep coming back and trying again for five straight seasons.
Lauther said in June that at times it was enough to make him think of quitting, but those thoughts were fleeting.
“It’s hard when you’re trying to get on the field that long … but I think the biggest thing for me was just telling myself that whenever I’ve wanted to do something I got to do it and this was one of those things I knew I could do and I just wanted to do whatever it took to get here.”
Now, look at him.
He and his team are two wins away from a trip to the Grey Cup and winning that trophy means more to him than any personal awards or accolades.
“I told my dad, I told my brother, I told people in my family I was going to do all this this year and I told them I was going to bring home the Grey Cup,” Lauther said. “I had dreams about this and everything and even to get this far people would say ‘Yeah right, yeah right – it’s easy to say now’ but once we start doing it, I’m not going to be surprised,” he vowed.
“Everyone in the west had a great year kicking and things like these don’t really matter that much to me at all. I want to come in, in what I consider my real first year, and just win the Grey Cup and that’s it.”