MONTREAL -- Shea Emry is set to play in the CFL East Division final for the fourth time in his five seasons as a Montreal Alouette, but this time it means a little more.
The 26-year-old middle linebacker missed most of last season with a concussion that left him wondering if he'd ever play football again.
Not only did Emry recover and attend training camp in the spring, he had a career year and is a finalist for both the CFL Outstanding Defensive Player and Outstanding Canadian Player awards.
"It's something that crossed my mind," Emry said Wednesday of last season's doubts about his football future. "There were a couple of guys dealing with concussions on our team and we got to talking.
"It's part of the game, dealing with concussions. You start thinking 'Can I still do it? Will I have the speed?' I had to break down those barriers through training camp and the first couple of games. It's nice to get some accolades, knowing I went through a lot. I'm just glad we're here now, playing an Eastern final at home."
The Alouettes (11-7) will play host to the Toronto Argonauts (9-9) in the East final Sunday afternoon at Olympic Stadium. The team says more than 42,000 tickets have been sold.
While the Alouettes' defence drew criticism for allowing 27 points per game, fifth-best in an eight-team league, Emry was a standout.
The Richmond, B.C., native led the team with 87 defensive tackles, the second highest total in Alouettes history behind Tracy Gravely's 110 in 1996. He ended star linebacker Chip Cox's three-year reign as the Alouettes top tackler, dropping him to second with 82.
"I've just taken every moment, every play, and embraced it," he said. "I'm excited to be on the field again.
"When you get something taken away from you that you love so much, there's nothing holding you back when you get it back. I've slipped up a couple of times this year. It's a thin line I've been walking on. But I'm just excited to be out there playing football."
What Emry calls slip-ups were nasty plays that saw him fined three times by the league. It is remarkable he was never suspended.
-- The Canadian Press