The Flyin’ Hawaiian needed less than two quarters to make history Thursday night.
Chad Owens caught three passes and returned four kicks to set pro football’s record for all-purpose yards in a season. Then he was given the rest of the night off.
The Toronto Argonaut speedster came into the game needing 73 combined yards to break Michael (Pinball) Clemons’ 1997 mark of 3,840. He broke the record with a 29-yard kickoff return against Hamilton midway through the second quarter of the Argos’ final game of the regular season.
It appeared Owens had caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Harris with his next touch.
The game was stopped and Owens was presented with a ceremonial plaque at centre field, with wife Rena and kids Chad Jr., Areana and Sierra-Lynn, commissioner Mark Cohon, Toronto GM Jim Barker and Clemons on hand to mark the moment.
The festivities done, the on-field officials ruled that Owens in fact had been stopped at the two-yard-line. Gerald Riggs subsequently ran in for the touchdown in a somewhat confusing turn of events.
Owens, a receiver/kick returner, did not return the rest of the half, joining some 10 starters who were rested by coach Scott Milanovich with a home semifinal playoff game already in the bag. Toronto also had a starter out via suspension.
The 30-year-old Owens finished with 95 net yards, upping his season total to 3,863.
In typical fashion, he did it a variety of ways although the Ticats didn’t help by stopping him for an eight-yard loss on his initial punt return. Owens finished the half with three kickoff returns for 64 yards and three pass receptions for 39 yards.
Owens also made a nice block to help a 61-yard run by Riggs and threw a 49-yard pass on an option play to Spencer Watt to round out a productive first half.
He watched the second half from the sidelines.
After the game, Owens talked about Clemons’ impact on his life.
“If anything (Clemons) was probably my biggest fan and a lot of times when we do talk it’s not about football,” he said of the Argonauts’ vice-chair. “It’s about life, it’s about family and those are the characteristics I try to take from him.
“Four years ago I was out of football. I got the chance to come up here and continue my dream and as soon as I got here in Toronto things started falling into place and I’m just so thankful for that.”
Owens, in his fourth CFL season, also started the day leading the league in receiving yards (1,289) and kickoff return yards (1,524).
At five foot eight and 180 pounds, Owens is 12 inches shorter than three of his teammates and some 140 pounds lighter than offensive lineman Andrew Jones.
The former University of Hawaii standout was acquired by Toronto in a June 2010 trade with the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for a draft pick in the 2011 CFL Canadian draft.
Originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL draft by Jacksonville, he had shorts stints with the Jaguars and Buccaneers before signing with the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League, and eventually heading north of the border.
He has been chosen the Argos’ 2012 nominee for most outstanding player and outstanding special teams player.
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