REGINA — Tearrius George said there was a lot more than money behind his decision to stay with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The CFL club announced Friday that it had signed George to a contract extension. The All-Star defensive tackle said the unique community in Regina made the decision to stay an easy one.
“I don’t think you can go anywhere else in the CFL and find a community like this and a team like this, so that factored in a whole lot,” George, who was eligible to become a free agent Feb. 10, said at a news conference Friday.
“There’s a lot of community support. I’ve got people like my landlord Randy, he’s a pretty cool guy. A lot of people in the community who make sure you’re OK, and I don’t feel like you can find that too many places.”
“You might find more money but I don’t think you’ll find that.”
The six-foot-four, 277-pound native of Fayetteville, N.C., will enter his fifth season with the Riders after originally signing with the team as a free agent in February 2011.
The 32-year-old was named a West Division all-star for the second consecutive season after recording career highs with 37 defensive tackles and 12 quarterback sacks while starting all 18 games in 2014.
His 31 career sacks with the Riders are the fourth-highest total in team history.
George said he’s confident that the Roughriders will be able to sign some of their other free agents on defence, a list that includes Canadian defensive end Ricky Foley.
Regardless, there will be changes to the Roughriders defence next season after their 2014 campaign ended with a 18-10 loss to Edmonton in the Western Semi-Final. The team is looking for a new defensive co-ordinator after announcing that Richie Hall will not return to the role. Head coach Corey Chamblin has gone on record saying he wants a more aggressive defence.
“That’s good, because I’m an aggressive guy,” George said.
The Roughriders also face an aging defensive core. George, star defensive end John Chick and Foley, if he re-signs, will all be in their early 30s on opening day.
While all three players are still playing at a high level and look to have a few good years of football left, George noted how quickly that can change.
“If you’re a smart football player every year and you come in thinking this could be my last for any reason — injury or not playing well or a younger guy or whatever it is,” he said. “That’s a mentality I’ve carried all my career.”