Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman Matt O’Donnell is the club’s nominee for the 2017 Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, given annually to the CFL player who best demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to their community.
The award also recognises Jake Gaudaur – the longest-standing CFL Commissioner and a distinguished veteran of World War II.
O’Donnell was an encouraging and positive presence in Edmonton’s locker room in a season where his life was touched by an important issue. The champion of this year’s PINK initiative, he spent a short time away from the team to be with his mother as she fought breast cancer.
O’Donnell is in his sixth season with the Eskimos and was a pivotal contributor to an offensive line which allowed the fewest sacks in the CFL and led the league in touchdowns, throwing, and was second in rushing. O’Donnell was also the club’s representative for Most Outstanding Canadian and Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and earned his second West All-Star nomination.
O’Donnell raised funds for women’s cancer research through the team’s Annual Women’s Dinner in support of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. O’Donnell is also a key leader at the annual amateur football camp and the Eskimos Kids Club, spending time with the kids after games win or lose.
This year’s Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award recipient – chosen from the field of nine nominees, one from each CFL club – will be honoured during the CFL awards ceremony on Nov. 23 during Grey Cup week in Ottawa.