TORONTO – When the Toronto Argonauts acquired wide receiver, Maurice Mann from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on October 11, 2011 the expectation was that he would be a key veteran figure in a remodeled and fairly inexperienced Argos’ receiving core. However, a disappointing conclusion to the 2011 CFL season and a serious leg injury suffered during 2012 training camp left Mann anxiously waiting for his number to be called into action.
Mann did not receive his first start of the 2012 season until September 3 in the Labour Day Classic against his former team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Mann managed to record just three receptions for 42 yards in his first four games of the 2012 season and admits that without a strong support group, it would have been difficult to overcome the slow start to his 2012 campaign.
“Perseverance, confidence, and God. God is first. Family is also big for me. It’s important to be ready when your number is called and come out to play your best”, commented Mann following a recent Argonauts’ practice.
In the Argonauts final four regular season games, Mann registered a magnificent seventeen catches for 224 yards receiving. He also recorded his very first touchdown reception as a member of the Argonauts in the team’s playoff clinching victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on October 27.
Mann was absent from the Argonauts’ regular season finale against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on November 1 in order to avoid risk of injury a week prior to the team’s first home playoff game since the 2007 CFL season.
In the Argonauts’ impressive 42-26 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in the Eastern Semi-Final, Mann led all receivers with seven receptions for 82 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown during Toronto’s playoff record, 31-point second quarter.
Mann credits his most recent success to his teammates and family, who have continuously supported him throughout this 2012 CFL season.
“I have a lot of people pushing me. Jason Barnes and Ken-Yon Rambo are great players and have helped a lot. I am fortunate to have a good core of family around me that has been pushing me to excel and be comfortable when playing my game”, said Mann.
The 30-year old, Santa Clara, California native has been playing his best football at the most crucial time of this 2012 season. In the Argos’ Eastern Semi-Final victory over the Eskimos, Mann showed tremendous continuity with quarterback, Ricky Ray. The two were previously teammates in Edmonton from 2007-2009. In 2009, Mann recorded his best statistical season while playing alongside Ray. The six-year CFL veteran recorded 73 receptions, 917 yards, and six touchdowns en route to a CFL all-star selection.
While Ray has made a seemingly painless transition from Edmonton to Toronto, Mann struggled to adjust to his new role in Scott Milanovich’s complex offence. However, despite his personal struggles, Mann explains how it has been a true joy to watch Ricky Ray in his first year as a member of the Double Blue.
“I do not even have the words to describe Ricky. He is my idol. Ricky is like “Justin Bieber” to me”, joked Mann. “He is simply great. He makes the game easier, calmer, and more fun. Ricky is a great guy and I just love playing with him”.
Ray has developed a good rapport with Maurice Mann as well as many other Argonauts receivers in 2012. The elusive, Chad Owens led the Canadian Football League in receiving during the regular season with 1,328 yards and set career high’s in receptions, yardage, and touchdowns in his first season with Ricky Ray at the helm.
As the Argos’ are in the midst of the 100th Grey Cup playoffs, Mann feels confident that this Argonauts’ squad has developed into one of the best teams in the Canadian Football League in 2012.
“This is the best team I have ever played on. As for family and guys being unselfish, this is by far the best team I have been around. All of our guys accept their role and play hard”, stated Mann following a most recent practice at the Rogers Centre.
Mann has definitely experienced no shortage of adversity since joining the Argonauts in the latter part of the 2011 CFL season. He was buried on the Argos’ depth chart at the beginning of the 2012 season and has continued to battle in order to retain his starting position. His patience and incredible dedication may finally pay off, as the Argonauts are just two victories away from celebrating a Grey Cup championship in front of their hometown fans at Rogers Centre on November 25.
As each week has gone by, “Mo” Mann has seen his role steadily increase within the Argonauts offence. Mann’s countless hours of hard work and preparation have finally been rewarded as he has developed into the “Main Mann” in the Argos’ potent aerial attack.
– Daniele Franceschi –