TORONTO — Ricky Ray’s season is done.
A CFL source told The Canadian Press on Wednesday the veteran quarterback isn’t planning to return to the Toronto Argonauts this year after suffering a neck injury in their 41-7 home loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night.
The source added Ray made the statement to some players after meeting with doctors earlier this week.
The Argos declined comment, stating they’ve yet to receive all the pertinent medical information and therefore having nothing further to add to their latest statement. On Monday, the CFL club said Ray had been released from hospital and was resting at home and would “miss significant time this season,” as a result of the injury.
The Argos also added there was no timetable regarding Ray’s return.
It’s unclear whether Ray has played his final down in the CFL. He seriously pondered retirement following Toronto’s Grey Cup win over Calgary last year before ultimately deciding to return for a 16th season in Canada.
Ray, 38, was injured in the third quarter after being sandwiched between Calgary defensive linemen Ja’Gared Davis and Cordarro Law. Play was halted for over 20 minutes while medical personnel treated Ray.
He left the field on a stretcher with his head immobilized and was taken to a Toronto hospital.
Ray has been a model of resiliency during his Argos tenure, successfully overcoming knee injuries, a partially deflated lung and shoulder surgery to return to the lineup. But watching a respected future Hall of Fame player leaving the field strapped down on a stretcher was certainly concerning to fans as well as players and officials.
“That’s one of my good buddies in this league,” said Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris, who began his CFL career with Toronto in 2012. “Ricky Ray has been a mentor to me, but he’s one of my better friends in the league.
“I was heartbroken when I saw him laying there on the field. I’m just praying for him each and every day and hopefully he can get back to full health. Really, at this point for me, I want him to be able to be a functioning father and a husband for his family and be able to watch his kids grow up.”
Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said having Ray in the CFL makes the league better.
“First and foremost, I just hope for his health and his life, that he can lead a normal life,” he said. “We’d all be hoping he can also play football again because he makes our league better and he’s a good guy and a good football player.”
James Franklin will get the start when the Argos (0-2) host the Edmonton Eskimos, Franklin’s former team, July 7 at BMO Field. Franklin was 8-of-13 passing for 65 yards versus Calgary and scored the Argos’ lone TD on a 10-yard run.
Toronto acquired Franklin from Edmonton in December while Ray was pondering his CFL future. McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who battled Franklin during training camp for the No. 2 spot, is expected to be promoted to Franklin’s backup.
The Argos also have sophomore Dakota Prukop on the roster but he’s currently on the injured list.
Ray is in his seventh season with Toronto and is the club’s all-time passing leader. The California native began his CFL career in 2002 with the Edmonton Eskimos and was dealt to the Argos in December 2011.
The six-foot-three, 214-pound Ray has won a record four Grey Cups as a CFL starter (two with Edmonton, two with Toronto). He led the Argos to victory in the historic 100th Grey Cup game in 2012.
Ray had completed 34-of-54 passes for 307 yards in Toronto’s opening two games. Last season, Ray enjoyed a resurgence under head coach Marc Trestman, finishing second to CFL most outstanding player Mike Reilly of Edmonton in passing with 5,546 yards to go with 28 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions.
After being limited to just 12 games over the previous two seasons, Ray led Toronto (9-9) to first place in the East Division after finishing last in 2016 with a 5-13 mark.
Ray has appeared in 226 career CFL games and is the league’s fourth-leading career passer (60,736 yards) behind Anthony Calvillo (79,816), Damon Allen (72,381) and Henry Burris (63,227).