The curtain has closed on the career of Ricky Ray16 de Mayo de 2019 a las 03:03
Photo courtesy of Chris Young, The Canadian Press
By Eduardo Harari
TORONTO. - There are no words to explain the sensational legacy that Ricky Ray leaves behind after 16 seasons in the CFL after taking both the Argos and Eskimos to four Grey Cup appearances along the way has closed the doors on his illustrious career.
Referred as the best signal caller to come out of Redding and Shasta county, Ricky Ray always remained grounded and humble to his roots during his entire career.
When you think of Ricky Ray, who announced his retirement this past week in a way that displayed his under-the-radar approach, you think of toughness and leadership.
As he spoke to the CFL world during a conference call there were no cameras to show his emotions as we are accustomed from many top athletes. Instead we got heartfelt words from Ray, a quiet persona that would rather remain in the confort and warmth of his family environment to say his formal goodbye.
Ray will be honoured and given a proper farewell when the Argos open their season on June 22 at BMO field. It will be a true hero's salute to the man that lead the Argos to its last hooray in 2017.
Photo courtesy of Edmonton Journal
He arrived in Canada in 2002 and quickly climbed the Eskimos’ organizational chart, becoming a starter and throwing 24 touchdown passes as a rookie. In 2003 he led the Eskimos to the first Grey Cup of his career, while the following year the New York Jets came calling, signing Ray to become a backup throughout the 2004 season.
Photo courtesy of NY Jets Advanced Media
Ray’s time in the NFL was short-lived. He returned to Edmonton in 2005 and won a second Grey Cup throwing for 5,510 yards while attempting a career-high 713 attempts that season.
Despite being traded after the 2011 season, Ray’s legacy in the city of Edmonton can be seen on the hallowed walls of Commonwealth Stadium. Eskimos fans will always remember the him as one of their own.
Photo courtesy of athletique.com
In Toronto, though, Ray burrowed his own roots. Following the path of legendary quarterbacks like Damon Allen, Doug Flutie and Matt Dunigan, Ray brought championships to Canada’s biggest city, capturing two Grey Cups in the span of six years.
“It was a good opportunity for me to start new, it was good for them to have a change, they were able to get another great quarterback in Mike Reilly and go on and win a championship,” Ray reflected. “Looking back it was good for both organizations and life in Toronto ended up being pretty special to me. To win two Grey Cups there, it was a big part of my career.”
Ray played his best under Scott Milanovich, enjoying his best statistical season in 2013 while completing a CFL record 77.2 per cent of his passes with 2,878 yards, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions, along with a quarterback rating of 126.4, a single-season record.
That same season, Ray set an all-time single-game record when he completed 95 per cent of his passes, going 19-of-20 for 286 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Winnipeg.
Photo courtesy of blair-necessities.blogspot.com
Ray's final seconds in the CFL were spent scrambling from defenders before being sacked and suffering season-ending neck injury last June.
“I don’t have any regrets at all,” Ray said. “I would rather have gone through what I did last year than retiring after the 2017 season and saying ‘man, I wish I would have played one more year’.
“I think if I had left a little more in the tank I would have wondered. At this point I know I’ve given everything and I don’t have anything else to give and now I can be really satisfied that I’m making the right decision now. No regrets.”
Ricky will spend the rest of 2019 enjoying his family time. But he knows he won't be able to stay away from the game forever. Coaching is much on the horizon.
"I could definitely see myself doing it," he said, adding a coaching career would likely mean moving up to Canada. "That’s the game I know. I haven’t really played down here in a long time."
That decision is a hard one to take as it would mean being away from his family once again.
Coaching is a different game and there is a chance you don't spend all of your time with the same team.
Photo courtesy of CFL.ca
The CFL released a statement from league commissioner Randy Ambrosie, words that best encapsulate Ray.
“Ricky has always led by example, quietly but completely,’’ it read. “He is someone who always put his teammates first. Calm under pressure, modest in victory, and accountable in defeat, he has been the consummate professional, on and off the field.
“The CFL has been graced by his play and strengthened by his presence. We wish Ricky every success in his future endeavours and thank his family for sharing him with our league and our fans.”
Ray finished his farewell returning to his roots and closed with
"Thank you to everyone who was a positive influence on me here in Shasta County," he said. "All the teammates I’ve had and coaches and people that I came across really helped me get to where I was able to have a good career in the CFL."