One of the most prolific players in Canadian Football League history is calling it a career, as Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray has officially announced his retirement at age 39.
The news was revealed during a conference call on Wednesday from Ray’s home in Sacramento, Calif., ending months of off-season speculation. Ray’s football future had been in the air since suffering a season-ending injury against the Calgary Stampeders on June 23, 2018.
Though the ending wasn’t ideal, Ray will be remembered for a hall of fame resume compiled over the span 16 seasons with the Argos and Edmonton Eskimos. He retires in the top-five all-time in passing yards (4th), touchdowns (5th), and starts (5th), while his calling card was his accuracy, retiring No. 1 all-time with a 68.2 career completion percentage.
“I just wanted to be a player that teammates and fans and the organization could believe in, could be proud of, that I was going to go out there and play my best every week,” said Ray. “That’s what I tried to do, perform my best and be a good leader, lead by example.”
With a CFL record four Grey Cups as a starting quarterback, Ray was a winner. After leading the Eskimos to the Grey Cup in 2003 and 2005, the veteran was traded to Toronto following the 2011 season. Though the move came as a shock, Ray left an immediate imprint on his new city, leading the Argos to an historic Grey Cup victory on home turf his very first season in 2012.
Seven years later, Ray captured a fourth championship in unexpected circumstances, leading the Argos over the heavily favoured Stampeders in a blizzard in Ottawa. With the game tied, Ray engineered a critical drive inside the three-minute warning, completing four of his six passing attempts to set up a go-ahead field goal by Lirim Hajrullaju.
Ray would return the following year before suffering a scary neck injury in Week 2 in the Argos’ home-opener, which saw him carted off the field on a stretcher. Still, even with the injury, the veteran said there’s been no second guessing his decision to return in 2018, even if he bypassed the storybook ending.
“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.”
In addition to winning the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player in 2005, Ray retires as the second-leading all-time passer in championship games (1,512 yards) and has thrown the most touchdowns in the Grey Cup with nine.