March 8, 2019

O’Leary: Different role would await Ray should he return to Argos

Adam Gagnon/

The Toronto Argonauts are moving into the future but that doesn’t mean they’re not still thinking about Ricky Ray.

Jim Popp had no new news on the legendary quarterback’s status on Friday night, before the Argos’ town hall got underway at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto, next to BMO Field.

“None,” the Argos’ GM said of any kind of update on Ray, who injured his neck in the second game of the team’s season last year.

Popp said he and coach Corey Chamblin had spoken with Ray at the end of January, prior to free agency opening and that the door was left open for him. Ray still has medical clearances to deal with, Popp said, and has to decide if he wants to set foot onto a field again.

If he did choose to do that, Popp said it could be in a different role.

“I think we’d have to discuss what that role is,” Popp said.

“It’s an interesting thing, before I ever got here, Ricky had gone through injuries and I think the old regiment had already discussed the possibility of him playing a different type of role, maybe as a backup.

“Of course when we came in, we talked to him, he said he felt great, (and we made him) our starter and we went with him. I think if he were to continue playing I think he’d be open for about anything that we’d have a discussion with.”


Popp mentioned a backup role could lead into coaching opportunities, if Ray were interested in that. He was also clear that he didn’t want to speak for Ray.

“He’s the only one that can ever tell you (his plans),” Popp said.

“We would love to have him back. He’s just a tremendous, respected person in the room, not just as a person but a leader when he is on the field. He’d be a tremendous help and teacher to anybody if he were playing a different role.”

During the town hall, a rowdy fan in the crowd asked about Ray’s status while Popp and Chamblin were on stage. Chamblin said he thought that Ray was “probably transitioning” to the next phase of his life, but acknowledged his contribution to the Argos and the CFL.

In the meantime, the Argos have moved forward at the quarterback spot. James Franklin, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Dakota Prukop will return and the team signed a pair of Canadian QBs in the offseason, in Regina’s Noah Picton and Mississauga’s Brandon Bridge.

Popp noted that some unanswered questions — a still-to-be-determined salary cap being a big one — would have to be sorted out between now and training camp to fully answer the question about Ray’s future.

Ray, 39, has played 16 seasons in the CFL, winning four Grey Cups. He has 60,736 passing yards, good for fourth all-time in CFL history. He’s made 4,976 of 7,301 passes and has 324 career touchdowns.