Here's something you probably didn't see coming -- this year's sad sack edition of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had the same number of all stars as last year's East Division champions.
As incongruous as that sounds given that this year's team finished 6-12 and out of the playoffs and last year's team went to the Grey Cup game, that was the final verdict on Thursday when the CFL announced the East Division all stars.
On offence, running back Chad Simpson, wide receiver Chris Matthews and tackle Glenn January took down all star awards.
On defence, linemen Bryant Turner and Alex Hall were named to the team, as were defensive backs Jovon Johnson and Jonathan Hefney.
January, Johnson and Hefney were also East Division all stars in 2011 when just like this year, that team also had three all stars on offence and four on defence.
Johnson was the CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2011, but he regressed in 2012 and his selection on Thursday as an all star -- along with that of Hefney -- raised some eyebrows across the league.
Both men struggled at times this season -- by their own admission -- and even Bombers head coach Tim Burke at season's end cited the poor play of his secondary as a major contributing factor to his club's lousy record.
"This kind of caught me by surprise too," Johnson said in a phone interview Thursday. "When they called me to tell me I was an all star, I said, 'What are you talking about?'
"It's definitely a surprise. I guess a reputation goes a long way."
Hefney sounded a similar refrain.
"It feels pretty good considering the type of year we had and the type of year I felt like I had," Hefney said by phone from South Carolina Thursday morning. "I felt like I could have played a whole lot better."
Turner, on the other hand, said he felt vindicated by the all-star selection. "It means I've found some respect. I've felt kind of like I was off the radar the past couple seasons. This all star means somebody's noticing, I guess."
The all-star selections come at a fortuitous time for Hefney and Turner, both of who become potential CFL free agents this winter.
"Hopefully it does me some good," said Turner.
Voters will now determine which of the East and West all stars will be named to the league all-wstar team.
The league all-star team will be announced in early December.
Bombers named to East Division all-star team
Seven Winnipeg Blue Bombers were named to the 2012 CFL East Division all-star team on Thursday. Here's a snapshot:
RB Chad Simpson: An NFL veteran but CFL rookie, Simpson ran for 1,039 yards on 173 carries in just 14 games. Simpson missed four games with a foot injury, but still finished with a league-leading -- among starting running backs -- per-carry average of 6.0 yards.
WR Chris Matthews: Matthews became the first rookie receiver in franchise history to reach 1,000 yards in a season, finishing the year with 81 catches for 1,192 yards. Matthews is also the East Division nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie.
OL Glenn January: January was one of only two returning starters on the offensive line this season. He was also selected in 2011 as an East Division all-star.
DE Alex Hall: Hall was leading the league in sacks with nine when he injured his knee and was forced to miss the final four regular-season games. He had two-sack games on three different occasions and was named the CFL Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8.
DT Bryant Turner: The second-year lineman started 14 games and recorded six sacks -- three of them in the first game -- along with 20 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
DB Jonathan Hefney: Hefney started all 18 games and led the team in tackles with 74. He also recorded one sack, one interception, four fumble recoveries and one forced fumble to earn his third divisional all-star selection in the past four years.
DB Jovon Johnson: Johnson also started all 18 games in 2012 and led the league with five fumble recoveries. He also registered 52 defensive tackles and one interception en route to his fourth straight divisional all-star selection.
The Canadian Football League announced Thursday the 2012 East and West Division all stars. The Division All-Stars were selected by 70 voters, including members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC), CFL head coaches, and CFL fans from across the country.
The FRC voting panel consists of representation from each CFL market and a national chapter.
The CFL.ca all-star balloting program is now reopened for fans to make their selections for the 2012 CFL all-stars. The final round of voting for fans closes on Sunday, Nov. 11, prior to kickoff (noon CT) of the Eastern semifinal in Toronto where the Argonauts host the Edmonton Eskimos at Rogers Centre.
The CFL all-stars will be announced in early December.
The all-star ballot is at www.cflallstars.com
QB Anthony Calvillo, MtlQB Travis Lulay, BC
RB Avon Cobourne, HamRB Jon Cornish, Cgy
RB Chad Simpson, WpgRB Andrew Harris, BC
R SJ Green, MtlR Weston Dressler, Sask
R Chris Matthews, WpgR Chris Getzlaf, Sask
R Chad Owens, TorR Nik Lewis, Cgy
R Chris Williams, HamR Fred Stamps, Edm
OT Josh Bourke, MtlOT Ben Archibald, BC
OT Glenn January, WpgOT Jovan Olafioye, BC
OG Peter Dyakowski, HamOG Brendon LaBatte, Sask
OG Scott Flory, MtlOG Dimitri Tsoumpas, Cgy
C Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, MtlC Angus Reid, BC
DT Armond Armstead, TorDT Ted Laurent, Edm
DT Bryant Turner, WpgDT Almondo Sewell, Edm
DE John Bowman, MtlDE Charleston Hughes, Cgy
DE Alex Hall, WpgDE Keron Williams, BC
LB Chip Cox, MtlLB Adam Bighill, BC
LB Shea Emery, MtlLB JC Sherritt, Edm
LB Renaud Williams, HamLB Juwan Simpson, Cgy
CB Jovon Johnson, WpgCB Joe Burnett, Edm
CB Pat Watkins, TorCB Keon Raymond, Cgy
DB Dwight Anderson, MtlDB Korey Banks, BC
DB Jonathan Hefney, WpgDB Ryan Phillips, BC
S Kyries Hebert, MtlS Donovan Alexander, Edm
K Luca Congi, HamK Rene Paredes, Cgy
P Josh Bartel, HamP Rob Maver, Cgy
ST Chris Williams, HamST Tim Brown, BC