Football is an odd sport in a lot of ways, but one of the most notable is how despite having 24 men on the field at any given time in the Canadian game, much of the attention still goes to a select few. Everyone knows the quarterbacks, and most know a couple of star running backs or receivers and maybe a top linebacker, but a lot of the special-teamers and guys in the trenches on the lines don't get a lot of publicity. When they're singled out on camera, it's usually because they've screwed up in some way; letting a pass rusher through, missing a tackle, or slipping and falling down. All of those errors are pretty minimal next to the one defensive end Ronald Flemons (pictured above chasing down Edmonton QB Ricky Ray) committed earlier this year, which drew international attention and has been described as one of the worst fumbles of all time:
What would be easy to lose in the coverage of his spectacular blunder was how solid a player Flemons was in the moments when the brightest lights weren't shining on him. He recorded eight sacks, 53 tackles and four fumble recoveries for the Argonauts last season, all career-highs. He was a critical part of their defence, which allowed a league-low 442 points this season and helped to turn them around from 3-15 to 8-8 and a berth in the East Division Final. Flemons was second on the team in sacks and sixth in tackles, and he proved solid against both the run and the pass. His four fumble recoveries also were tops on the team, and he tied for the team lead with six pass knockdowns.
Flemons did get some recognition for his accomplishments this year, although he wasn't selected as a divisional or league all-star. His team definitely realized the value he brings, and new general manager Jim Barker opted to sign him to a new two-year contract this week (with an option for a third year).
It's a key move for the Argonauts, as the defensive line looked like a crucial area they'd have to address this offseason with four potential free agents there. It also could be a good move for Flemons, who opted to remain in Toronto instead of testing the free-agency market; the Argos appear to be building a decent team with a strong defensive identity, and they clearly see him as a critical part of that. Like Leon Lett, many probably only know Flemons for his gaffe, but also like Lett, he deserves recognition for his play outside of the spotlight. That's what's earned him this extension, and if he keeps it up, Argonauts will be happy to have him despite occasional jokes about his fumble.