July 31, 2018

Sewell Moving Up The Esks Defensive Leaderboard

Photo Credit: Johany Jutras

Defensive lineman of a certain status often projects an image accompanied by a nickname.

Dave ‘Dr. Death’ Fennell you may remember from the five-in-a-row Eskimos of 1978-82.

Bill ‘The Undertaker’ Baker you may recall from the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Angelo ‘King Kong’ Mosca. Brett ‘The Toaster’ Williams. Bobby ‘Bonzai’Jurasin.

‘Mean’ Joe Green, Lester ‘The Molester’ Hayes and Andre ‘Bad Moon’ Rison come to mind from the NFL.

So how do we break the news to you that five-time CFL All-Star defensive tackle Almondo Sewell has a pet bunny rabbit?

Almodo ‘The Bunny Rabbit Man’ Sewell doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart of your average quarterback.

“I got him in Akron, Ohio,” said the six-foot-four 283-pound interior lineman who played his college football there.

“I brought him all the way to Edmonton with me.

“His name is Dusko. It means rabbit.

“It was kind of a random thing when I got him. I couldn’t have a dog in the condo building where I was living. So, I thought ‘Let me try something weird like a rabbit.’

“It’s not bad having a pet rabbit. He’s real chill. He doesn’t really do much.”

Sewell, like many Eskimo Wall of Fame greats of the past such as Jackie Parker, Johnny Bright, Rollie Miles, Frank Anderson, Tom Wilkinson, Gizmo Williams and Willie Pless became year-round Eskimos when they played here and remained as citizens.

He’s in his fourth full year living here and says he expects to live the rest of his life in Edmonton.

Sewell is working towards becoming a Canadian citizen.

“I’m missing one little, small part of it and that’s tracking down my high school diploma. After that, I’ll just be playing the waiting game.”

While he intends to attempt to become a member of the Edmonton Police Service, post-playing career.

“I took criminal justice in college. My dad is a military guy. I went to a military high school. It’s something I’ve always planned to make my career when my football career is over,” he said.

He could get work with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

“This is by far the best community I’ve ever lived in. It’s just not Canada alone. It’s specifically Edmonton.”

And despite being born in Jamaica where he lived until he was 13 and moved to Trenton, N.J. before playing for the U of Akron Zips, Sewell said the cold has never really bothered him.

“The U of Akron is right in the snow belt.”

The CFL trumpets its diversity and Sewell said he loves the fact Edmonton likes to celebrate it.

“You see people of all races walking around. You get to be yourself. And you meet a lot of good people here,” he said.

“If you are a good guy and a good citizen, I believe Edmonton will always take care of you. I really enjoy doing the community stuff, and there’s a lot of that to do, and it’s spread around a lot fewer guys in the off-season. I like giving back, especially if little kids are involved.”

Sewell will play his 110th game Thursday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

He went into the season with 218 defensive tackles and 45 sacks, but his most impressive statistic is his five straight CFL All-Star selections at his position.

At his average of 36 per year, he’ll be in the Eskimos top ten in two years.

He’s already eighth all-time in the Edmonton sacks list but is a long way south of the 102 produced by Stewart Hill.

Sewell is also tied for third on the all-time team ‘Tackles For Losses’ list with 27. The record of 41 belongs to Willie Pless.

But it’s those five consecutive CFL All-Star selections that set him apart.

Pless had eight.

Sewell is tied for second place with Dave Fennell and Dan Kepley.

Rod Connop and Gizmo Williams each had four in a row.

In total, Pless had the eight, Brian Kelly six, Kepley, Fennell, Connop, Williams and Sewell five with Hank Ilesic, Tom Scott, Dann Bass, Jason Tucker and Fred Stamps with four each.

Sewell said he knows that’s approaching pretty impressive territory, but he doesn’t let it carry over to the next season.

“It all dies off by January,” he said.

“You realize then that you have to prove it all again this next year.”

Sewell admits he’s starting to look at those Wall of Honour plaques in The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium and wonder if he can continue to build the qualifications to become one of them.

“All the time I look at those signs and think that. At the end of my career, I want to be remembered as being a good teammate and that I was a good player with proof by being on a Wall of Fame.

“I run into quite a few of those guys around the city. I spend a lot of time talking to Gizmo.”

A lot of those guys from the five-in-a-row team have a multitude of Grey Cup rings. Sewell feels like his resume is short of those.

“At least I can say that I have one,” he said.

“But I’d like to have three or four more by the time I get done playing.”