by RENALDO DORSETT
Karl McCartney celebrated his 27th birthday this past Saturday and on Sunday he received the best birthday gift a pro football player can ask for, his Calgary Stampeders winning the 102nd Grey Cup.
The Stampeders were claimed champions of the Canadian Football League with a 20-16 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last night at the BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Bahamian linebacker and special teams ace was an integral part of the game deciding play on special teams coverage.
With just over a minute left to play, the Stampeders punted to Ti-Cats and former Washington Redskins returner Brandon Banks who looked to return the punt for the go ahead score.
However, the play was called back for a block in the back, when Taylor Reed was called for pushing McCartney in the back just as he was about to make the tackle.
On the season, McCartney played 18 games and had one tackle and led the team with 23 special-teams tackles which ranked him second in the CFL.
He also played in the Western Final and had two special-teams tackles.
The Calgary Stampeders finished the regular season with top record in the CFL at 15–3. Their 15 wins also tied the franchise record whereas the Ti-Cats finished atop the East Division with a 9–9 record.
The Stampeders have been perennial contenders during McCartney’s tenure, with his second Grey Cup appearance and first win.
It was the seventh Grey Cup championship title for Calgary in franchise history.
McCartney was selected in the fifth round (37th overall) of the 2010 CFL Canadian Draft and signed on May 20, 2010.
In his rookie campaign he was an immediate force on special teams as he led the Stampeders with 19 special-teams tackles.
He finished the season with eight defensive tackles, including one tackle for loss.
In his second league season, McCartney was limited by injury to seven regular-season appearances but still managed to top his previous total with 13 tackles while also tying for second on the squad with three tackles for loss.
In year three, McCartney played in all 18 regular-season games, both playoff contests and the Grey Cup.
He led the team for a second time in his career as he made 23 special-teams tackles, third in the league.
He also had nine tackles and a sack on defence. In the post-season, he totaled six special-teams tackles.
Last season he played in 11 games and had 11 defensive tackles, including a tackle for loss, a sack, a fumble recovery, 14 special-teams tackles and a knockdown.