January 25, 2009

Riders coach Estay retires

Tim Switzer
The StarPhoenix

REGINA — After nearly 40 years of crossing North America, it is time for Ron Estay to go home.

Estay has retired from his position as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defensive line coach — a job he held for the last eight CFL seasons — to return to his hometown of Larose, La.

Estay is to begin a job doing public relations with Gulf Logistics LLC, a boat company that works in the oil industry, on Feb. 1.

“You’re involved in football for 52 years and all of a sudden you give it up, it’s kind of tough, but you have to do it,” Estay, 60, said Friday from Larose, about 64 kilometres south of New Orleans.

After battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma and undergoing three months of chemotherapy, the cancer is in remission — news Estay got just a week before Christmas.

The episode, along with a number of other health scares last year, and the fact his wife’s mother is in the hospital in Louisiana led Estay to reflect.

“My wife has been following me for so many years and it was just time to come back home,” said Estay. “It’s all about my life and my family and what’s important to me.”

Estay said the fact former defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall, with whom Estay worked for his entire career in Saskatchewan, has left to become the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos played no part in his decision.

After a standout career with Louisiana State University, Estay played 10 seasons with the Eskimos beginning in 1973, winning six Grey Cups and being named an all-Canadian twice and a Western all-star four times. Estay was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Prior to joining the Roughriders in 2001, Estay coached at high schools and universities in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Virginia.

“The people of Regina and Saskatchewan treated me like one of their own even though I was an Eskimo as a player,” said Estay. “The Saskatchewan Roughriders football club is beyond reproach in how they treated me — last year especially. Jim Hopson, Eric (Tillman), coach (Ken) Miller, Richie, Alex (Smith), all of them were great people and great people to work with.”