TORONTO — Two veteran Canadians have decided to hang ’em up.
Monday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced that fullback Graeme Bell has retired after nine years, while the Blue Bombers announced that long snapper Chris Cvetkovic will retire as well.
Cvetkovic finishes his career with 66 special teams tackles, 161 career games played, and will retire as one of the most recognizable members of the community as a Blue Bomber.
Cvetkovic originally came to Winnipeg from the Riders in 2003, and has been key part of the organization, both on and off the field, ever since.
For all of his on field contributions, he was just as valued off the field, where Cvetkovic was heavily involved in many different community efforts. He was a two-time winner of the Ed Kotowich Award, which recognizes a Blue Bomber player for their excellence in combining football ability, team camaraderie and extraordinary effort in the community.
“The Winnipeg Blue Bombers would like to thank Chris for his boundless contributions, both on the football field, and in our community, over the past decade plus. His tenacity, desire to win and build team camaraderie was very evident during my time playing with him, and we truly appreciate all of his efforts,” said President and CEO Wade Miller.
Cvetkovic has made Winnipeg his home year-round since 2005 and was very active in the community from the beginning. In 2012, Cvetkovic started a not-for-profit organization called Cvet’s Pets that helps local Winnipeg No-Kill Animal Rescue Programs. Cvet’s Pets holds numerous fundraising events throughout the city including poker tournaments, socials and autograph signings.
He also organized a trip to Mexico with other CFL players where they spent time volunteering at an animal sterilization clinic. In addition, he is very involved with Variety, the Children’s Charity of Manitoba among many other charities and was always the first Blue Bomber to volunteer his time for appearances during the season and offseason throughout the province of Manitoba.
During the winter of 2011, he was one of seven CFL players who traveled to Haiti to aide in tsunami relief efforts through a program called Huddle for Haiti.
“Chris was a valued member of our special teams unit for many years, and we thank him for all of his contributions to our football team. He was a great locker room guy, and a player whose efforts both on and off the football field will be missed,” said General Manager Kyle Walters.
Cvetkovic spent his first season in Saskatchewan as a rookie in 2002, playing in all 18 regular season games.
Bell, meanwhile, retires after appearing in 97 career regular season games. The University of Saskatchewan product originally entered the CFL in 2005, signing as a free agent with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 2009 Bell joined the Edmonton Eskimos, before being acquired by the Green and White in May 2011, where he would spend his final three seasons.
The 33-year-old registered 18 career carries for 66 yards and one touchdown while adding seven receptions for 28 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 60 career special teams tackles.
At the conclusion of the 2012 season, Bell received the Jake Gaudaur Veterans Award recognizing the CFL player that best demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s Veterans.
Bell won his first Grey Cup in 2013 as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.