Toronto Argonauts: Is this Ricky Ray’s last hurrah?


As the Toronto Argonauts look to secure a place in the East Final, thoughts turn to if this will be Ricky Ray’s final season in the CFL.

Saturday night’s clash with the BC Lions is an extremely important one for the Toronto Argonauts. Win, and the Double Blue clinch the East Division, get a week off and host the divisional final.

This would represent a remarkable turnaround for the Argonauts. Just last season, they were tied with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the worst record in the entire CFL, at 5-13-0.

However, the game with the Lions could also prove to be significant for another reason. It’s possible it could represent the final regular season game of Ricky Ray’s glorious career.

As reported by the Toronto Sun‘s Frank Zicarelli, Ray is contemplating his future. One possibility is making the move over to the coaching side of football.

This seems somewhat surprising, just because of the season the three-time Grey Cup champion is having. Entering Week 20, he has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 5,205 yards and 25 touchdowns.

To put this into perspective, Ray’s single-season career bests are 5,661 passing yards and 35 touchdown throws, followed by 5,510 and 28. In essence, he has a shot at making this the second-best statistical season of his professional career.

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This is remarkable, when considering the veteran quarterback is now 38 years old. Clearly, working with Marc Trestman has revitalized his career.

This leads to the question of why Ray would even want to retire? The answer at least partly comes down to his recent injury issues, after only starting 11 of a possible 36 regular season games during the previous two years.

Understandably, the wear and tear starts to hit professional athletes after a while. And it’s fair to note Ray is approaching 40, which is rarefied air for a footballer.

While you could argue the three-time CFL All-Star has bounced back and only missed one game this season, no one will know his body better than himself. Sometimes, you just realize it’s time to retire, no matter how much you’re enjoying yourself.

As classic example of this is John Elway, who retired at the age of 38, despite coming off a season where he had the highest passer rating of his career and was named MVP of the Super Bowl. He admitted he was fine mentally, but he just physically couldn’t do it anymore.

Actually, the example of Elway could offer a clue to Ray’s thinking. After two injury-riddled seasons, maybe he just wanted to prove he could stay healthy and still perform consistently over the course of a season, before stepping aside once and for all, a.k.a. stick a figurative middle finger up to his critics.

Toronto Argonauts
REGINA, SK, CANADA – JULY 26: Ricky Ray /

In that respect, this writer admits he questioned the Argonauts’ wisdom in allowing Zach Callaros and then Trevor Harris to leave. At nine and six years younger than Ray respectively, the Double Blue seemed to be taking a short-sighted approach to the future of the franchise.

Regardless, this shouldn’t take anything away from the fantastic year the California native is having. It’s the type of season where a lot of us realize how much we’ve taken his brilliance for granted.

As for Ray himself, the future can wait, as he remains focused on Saturday’s game and the rest of this season. Speaking to Zicarelli and the other members of the media on Thursday, he said:

"“For us, our playoffs start here in Week 18. We win this game and we can set ourselves up pretty good going into the playoffs. That’s what we’re trying to do.”"

There will be those who dismiss the Argonauts’ chances of winning the Grey Cup, even if they do beat the Lions on Saturday. In particular, their 2-7 record versus the stronger West Division.

However, the Toronto Argonauts have played the West well in recent weeks, as evidenced by a 2-2 record in their last four games against the other division. Further, the two losses were close games, both of which were decided by just three points.

We’re not going to predict a Grey Cup championship for the Argos, but to say they don’t have a good shot would be naive. And if they do win, you wouldn’t blame Ray for making the decision to ride off into the sunset.

Next: Anthony Coombs returns for regular season finale

Do you think this will be Ray’s final season playing in the CFL? Regardless, how confident are you in the ability of the Toronto Argonauts to win this year’s Grey Cup? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.