TORONTO — Ricky Ray has retired, ending his Canadian Football League career after 16 seasons and a record four Grey Cup titles as a starting quarterback.
The 39-year-old former Sacramento State star missed most of last season with the Toronto Argonauts with a neck injury.
“The more I thought about it, physically I just don’t think I can perform at a standard necessary to play anymore,” Ray said Wednesday. “Every time I had that competitor inside of me saying, ‘Hey you can still do it, there’s a lot left to accomplish,’ I just had the practical voice in my head saying, ‘Physically you just can’t do it anymore.’
“As an athlete you’re always trying to overcome something or trying to push yourself and think you can do things that maybe even you don’t think you can. This offseason, the practical side of me just kept coming out and saying it was my time to be done with football.”
Ray leaves as one of the CFL’s most prolific passers. He’s second in career passing percentage at 68.16, behind only Edmonton’s Trevor Harris (70.36). Ray also stands fourth in passing yards (60,736), joining Anthony Calvillo, Damon Allen and Henry Burris as the only players to reach that plateau. He’s the career passing leader with Edmonton (40,531 yards) and Toronto (20,205).
Ray led Edmonton to the 2003 Grey Cup title, spent the 2004 season with the NFL’s New York Jets, then returned to help the Eskimos win the 2005 championship. Toronto acquired Ray from Edmonton prior to the 2012 season and he led the Argos to a championship that season and another in 2017.
“When people ask me, ‘Do you have fun playing football?’ I’m not sure fun is the right word,”’ he said. “Rewarding is more the right word because it’s not fun all the time. There’s a lot of hard practices, a lot of injuries, a lot of tough losses, a lot of things that can beat you down a bit. But when you do get on top and do get to win … it’s just so rewarding. That’s what filled me throughout my career, those times of having success with your teammates and team.”