TORONTO — Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray is leaving the door open for a return in 2019.
Ray spoke publicly Saturday morning for the first time since the summer, when he suffered a season-ending neck injury in the third quarter of a 41-7 loss to the Calgary Stampeders back on June 23.
The Argos’ pivot, who turned 39 in October, says a number of factors will go into his decision to either retire or continue playing.
“Recovery’s going well, all the checkups have been fine and good so I’m pleased with that,” Ray told reporters. “There are just so many things I’ve still got to think through, things I’ve got to check off. If I were to want to play again, there’s obviously a process I’m going to have to go through to make sure I’m willing to do that.
“At this point, I’ve put a lot of thought into it to be honest, what I want to do next year. I still have the feelings of wanting to play, but I just have to make sure it’s the right decision for me.”
With 60,736 passing yards, Ray is the fourth on the all-time leading passer list. He won his fourth Grey Cup as a starting quarterback last year, setting a CFL record, before suffering the heart-stopping injury in the second game of the season. Ray had to be removed on a stretcher while the game was delayed roughly half an hour.
The Argos struggled in Ray’s absence, winning just four games. James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson split quarterback duties in Ray’s absence, and while both flashed some potential, their inexperience played at least some part in a losing campaign.
The end result was the dismissal of Head Coach Marc Trestman, which was announced early Saturday morning.
“It’s tough, I really enjoy playing for Marc,” said Ray. “I learned a lot from him. The year we had last year was pretty special. He’s just a great man, a great coach, one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for. My heart goes out to him. Everything he’s put into this team, this organization, it’s a tough day.”
For Ray, a lot of what goes into his decision will come down to the physical side of the game. While he’s spent all season around the team, in meetings and on the sideline throughout games, he has yet to resume any football activities. His six-month checkup arrives at the end of December, which would be the next step in a possible return.
“There’s a lot that I’ve got to answer myself,” said Ray. Physically is it worth it, physically can I do it? I don’t really question mentally — I would still have the drive and have the want-to. Physically it’s been tough for me, my time here in Toronto, just with some of the injuries and now having the neck injury.
“And then, is there even an opportunity? Just a lot of things are up in the air right now. That’s what it’s been like the last three years, just trying to decide if there’s an opportunity for me, and can I still go out and do what I want to do. It’ll be similar in that sense but just in different circumstances.”
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