Remembering some of Ricky Ray’s great CFL moments

TORONTO — Ricky Ray announced his retirement Wednesday after an outstanding 16-year playing career in the CFL.

Here are five memorable moments from the California-born quarterback’s time in Canada:

QUITE A DEBUT

After starting the 2002 CFL season third on the Edmonton Eskimos’ depth chart as a rookie, Ray moved up to No. 2 in training camp and got his first start in Week 5 following an injury to Jason Maas. Ray fired four touchdown passes in a 37-27 win over the B.C. Lions.

Ray went on to throw for 2,991 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions with a league-best quarterback rating of 101.3. The great run ended with a Grey Cup loss against the Montreal Alouettes.

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST

Ray’s lone Grey Cup MVP award came in 2005 when he guided the Eskimos to a thrilling 38-35 overtime win over the Alouettes in Vancouver. Ray completed 35-of-45 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns.

The big outing came after Ray endured weeks of criticism about his play. Backup Jason Maas came off the bench to help the Eskimos win two prior playoff games and some fans were calling for a quarterback switch for the Grey Cup.

”It’s a great way to end the season,” said Ray. ”The last few weeks were tough, all the criticism everybody took. We stuck together and never separated as a team. That showed a lot of character for the guys on this team and this organization. That’s what won it for us.”

TOAST OF TORONTO

After being traded to Toronto in the off-season in a deal still criticized by Eskimos fans, Ray proved to be exactly what the Argonauts needed.

Ray beat his old Eskimos team in a division semifinal and then led the Argos to an upset of Montreal in the East final, sending Toronto back home for the 100th Grey Cup at the Rogers Centre.

Ray’s late seven-yard touchdown pass to Andre Durie cemented a 35-22 Argos win over the Calgary Stampeders.

ALMOST PERFECT

On a summer evening in Winnipeg, Ray was nearly flawless. He completed 19-of-20 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns before exiting with a knee injury in the third quarter in the Argos’ 35-19 win over the Blue Bombers on July 19, 2013.

The 95 per cent completion rate broke Ray’s own record of 92 per cent from a game in 2008.

“He was unbelievable and he’s played that way all year,” Argos coach Scott Milanovich said.

HAPPY AND HEALTHY

After being limited to just 12 combined starts due to injuries the previous two seasons, Ray started 17 games in 2017 for the Argos under new coach Marc Trestman. He threw for 5,546 yards with 28 TDs and 11 interceptions as Toronto won the East Division with a 9-9 record

The championship win in the snow in Ottawa was highlighted by Ray’s Grey Cup-record 100-yard TD strike to DeVier Posey against the Calgary Stampeders.

It was a record fourth Grey Cup win for Ray as a starting quarterback.

“That sounds pretty good. Obviously that’s for myself to celebrate,” Ray said. “I’m just so happy with these guys on this team and what we’ve been through this year. Man, there’s no other way to finish it off than with a Grey Cup. I mean, these guys are such great guys.”

The Canadian Press

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