We all knew it was coming, but one of the greatest QBs in CFL history has officially walked away from the game. On Wednesday, former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray announced his retirement from football, wrapping up the career of one of the most decorated players in CFL history.
“The more I thought about it, physically I just don’t think I can perform at a standard necessary to play anymore,” said Ray. “As an athlete, you’re always trying to overcome something or trying to push yourself and think you can do things that maybe even you don’t think you can. This off-season, the practical side of me just kept coming out and saying it was my time to be done with football.”
Ray leaves the CFL as one of the best passers in league history. He spent 17 seasons in pro football, 16 of those in the CFL with both the Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts. He’s the only starting quarterback in CFL history to win 4 Grey Cups, two with both teams. He’s second in career passing percentage with 68.16% only behind now current Eskimos’ QB Trevor Harris. Ray sits fourth in passing yards becoming only one of four players to pass for over 60,000 yards. He’s also the all-time passing leader for two different teams.
Before the CFL
Ray was a product of Sacramento State University, where he still holds the school record for completion percentage. While Ray went undrafted in the ’00 NFL Draft, he did attend training camp for the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, Ray didn’t make the team; however, he would leave with a nickname of “Frito Ray” due to working as a delivery truck driver for Frito-Lay chips when he was called up for training camp.
Following his NFL tryout, Ray would make his professional debut for the Fresno Frenzy of the Arena Football League’s developmental league af2. He played seven games for the Frenzy, where under the tutelage of CFL quarterback Rick Worman, Ray threw for 1,296 yards and 25 touchdowns. Worman was a huge part of the reason Ray got a tryout with the Eskimos.
In 2002, Ray headed north of the border to try out for Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. It was in the City of Champions that Ray’s legacy truly began. Through his nine seasons in Edmonton, Ray set franchise records in touchdowns (210) and career yards (40,531). His record of 3,225 completions with the Eskimos nearly double his nearest competitors total. Additionally, Ray was able to win two Grey Cups with the Eskimos.
While his time with the Argonauts was less personally prolific, Ray still stands as the franchises’ all-time leading passer with 20,205 yards. He’s also the only Argos’ quarterback to throw for over 100 touchdowns with the squad, racking up 114 TD’s over his career. While his passing output may have been reduced, Ray was still able to match the two Grey Cups he’d captured in Edmonton with the Argonauts, including a victory at home in the 100th edition of the CFL classic.
Unfortunately, Ray didn’t exactly leave the game on his own terms. He was stretchered off the field with his head in a cast in the third quarter of Toronto’s game against Calgary at home on June 23rd.
“Once I got that injury and knew I was going to be done (for the season) and started thinking about what was going to happen for my future, I think it just kind of kept getting stronger and stronger.”
At their June 22nd home opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ray will be honoured by the Argonauts.
A pretty good career for the sure first-ballot Hall of Famer and I imagine future Edmonton Eskimos’ Ring of Honour honouree. Enjoy retirement as much as we enjoyed watching you play, Ricky!
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