Canadian Football League

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Canadian Football League teams in fight for Ray

The "Ricky Ray Derby" is officially under way.
Three CFL teams have made a pitch for the former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback, while two others have expressed an interest in the 25-year-old.
Ray's agent Ken Staninger would not confirm Edmonton, Toronto and Hamilton as the trio of teams to table contract offers. Staninger declined to finger Winnipeg and Saskatchewan as the tire kickers.
"I'm talking to teams and teams are kind of inching along," said Staninger late yesterday. "We've not come to any agreement with anybody. I'm a little bit surprised that it's moving as slow as it is."
Two of the teams are interested in long-term deals, while the third would favour a shorter-term contract. The Esks are a solid bet to be one of the teams looking at a four- or five-year deal.
Edmonton president and CEO, Hugh Campbell, tried unsuccessfully to lock Ray up long-term before the start of the 2003 season--the year in which the six-foot-three, 210-pound pivot led the Esks to a Grey Cup title.
Word is Hamilton's brass would also like to have the former Frito Lay snack salesman under wraps for a minimum of four years.
Despite ongoing talks with CFL teams, Staninger hasn't yet thrown in the towel on landing his client work with an NFL club.
"I would have to say at this point we're giving serious consideration to the Canadian league," Staninger said. "I've talked to NFL teams. In fact, I've had a number of conversations.
"The reason we requested to get out of the deal (with the New York Jets) is so Rick could play again. We're not getting anxious. Nor do we want to be sitting here the Fourth of July lighting firecrackers.
"That's the reason he wanted out. If he was just going to sit and be a camp guy, he would have stayed in New York."
After Ray led the Esks to their first Grey Cup in a decade, Staninger negotiated a multimillion dollar deal with the New York Jets that included a $185,000 signing bonus.
Clearly any deal Staninger hammers out north of the border will be akin to those he's negotiated for his other CFL clients, Henry Burris and Dave Dickenson.
The agent says the complexity of those pacts is what's slowing the negotiation process.
"There's an awful lot to talk about," Staninger said.
"You don't put those deals together with a phone call. There's a lot of things to consider. He had great success when he was there.
"Some could argue he didn't make it in the NFL. I guess I'd argue differently because he was on (New York's) active roster for an accrued season."
Ray cleared NFL waivers on Tuesday.
After triggering a media feeding frenzy when their interest in Doug Flutie became public, Hamilton is tight-lipped about Ray.
"When we tried to do the Doug Flutie thing, it got to be a joke dealing with the media," said Tiger-Cats' general manager Ron Lancaster yesterday.
"We were getting calls from all over the country every day, every day. We decided this time we're not going to talk about anything in the media. We're just going to do our business."
One media report yesterday tabbed the Tabbies as favourites to land Ray.
Lancaster was unaware Hamilton had been handicapped to win the Ray derby. Moreover, Lancaster was surprised at the No. 1-ranking.
Particularly since neither Lancaster or Ticats head coach Greg Marshall suggested that was the case in their dealings with the media.
"That's the only thing people are calling us about," Lancaster said. "We're kind of playing it close to the vest as far as Greg tells me and I'll tell him. We make sure everybody knows what's going on. I don't know where that information would come from."
Toronto head coach Michael Clemons isn't concerned by the perception arch-rival Hamilton could have a leg up in the race for Ray.
"I think we have to make the decisions that are best for our team and not Hamilton or any other team," Clemons said during a conference call yesterday.

Canadian Football League: Where are they now?

The Dallas Cowboys recently hired former Harlingen Cardinal quarterback Sammy Garza as one of their pro scouts to evaluate available free agents.Garza’s duties include measuring the value of any restricted or unrestricted free agents in the NFL the Cowboys might be interested in signing.
Currently, Garza is also evaluating talent from NFL Europe and will later travel to Canada to watch players there.Garza played professionally in the Canadian Football League in the early 1990s.During the season, Garza will be in charge of scouting Dallas’s weekly opponents."It’s a wide range of duties," Garza said. "Garza has spent his entire career either playing or coaching football, but he feels confident in his new role considering his past experiences."I’ve been around football and professional players before," Garza said. "I’ve evaluated high school and college players before when I was coaching. Now this (scouting) is all I’ll be doing."After graduating from Harlingen High School in 1983, Garza attended the University of Texas-El Paso where he played quarterback until 1986.In his senior season at UTEP, Garza passed for more than 3,200 yards helping him become an eighth-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1987 NFL Draft.Garza was cut by Seattle during training camp and was later picked up by the ST. Louis Cardinals as a backup.Garza saw playing time as a scab during the 1987 players’ strike and was kept on the roster for the following season. But Garza would get another pink slip and bolted for the Canadian Football League in 1990 where he played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.In 1993, Garza and the Bombers lost the Grey Cup, the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl.Garza finally got the call to become the Bombers starter in 1994 but Winnipeg wouldn’t play for the Cup again.The Blue Bombers traded Garza to the Ottawa Roughriders in 1995 and was released a year later.He joined the coaching staff of his alma mater at UTEP a year later as the quarterbacks coach.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Another shot at the Canadian Football League for Jones

The Ottawa Renegades signed defensive back Daniel Jones yesterday.
Jones, who made it to the final training-camp cut with the Montreal Alouettes last season and later spent time on their practice roster, intercepted three passes in an exhibition game against the Renegades last year. The 23-year-old played cornerback for the Alouettes and was previously with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels.
The Renegades also confirmed the signing of quarterback Paul Peterson and Canadian offensive lineman Marc Parenteau. Both addition were first reported by the Citizen earlier this year.
Also, the Renegades confirmed yesterday that they will be returning to Kemptville College for a fourth consecutive training camp. Camp begins on May 28 with medical examinations. Players are on the field the next day. The Renegades will remain in Kemptville until June 17, a day following their final exhibition game against the Montreal Alouettes.
"It boiled down to having a great location that is distraction free, which is what you want in training camp," general manager and head coach Joe Paopao said in a statement. "The focus and priority of the staff is football and the campus is the right size for that."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Will Ray head to The Canadian Football League?

The transaction wire didn't tell the entire story about Ricky Ray's parting of ways with the New York Jets on Thursday.
In fact, it didn't even come close.
Truth is, the 25-year-old former Edmonton Eskimos' quarterback asked to be released.
It was a move the Jets were reluctant to make, but one Ray and his agent, Ken Staninger, concluded was in the young pivot's best interests. New York's acquisition of veteran NFLer Jay Fiedler in March ultimately triggered the request.
"When they signed Fiedler was the telling toll," Staninger said. "We asked them for a release and came to a confidential settlement.
"They reluctantly let him go so he could pursue other avenues. They worked with him, they were great with him. But Jay Fiedler is a good football player now and he brings a lot of experience to the Jet organization."
Fiedler's arrival in the Big Apple was a case of deja vu for Ray.
The cool-as-a-cucumber quarterback who led Edmonton to a Grey Cup title in 2003 appeared a lock for New York's No. 3 job until former Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter turned up in the Jets' camp last summer.
"Both Ricky and I understand why they took (Fiedler)," related Staninger. "These teams are going to take care of themselves first. That's what they do. We don't have any ill feelings."
Unless plucked off the waiver wire prior to the expiration of the 72-hour period, Ray - who is still not talking - will become a free agent Tuesday afternoon. Staninger pegs his client's chances of being claimed by one of the NFL's 31 remaining clubs before that, at 50-50.
If no team claims the six-foot-three, 210-pounder, Staninger will start making calls in an effort to find work for Ray south of the border.
"There's an awful lot of NFL teams that didn't fill their needs in the draft," Staninger said. "That's what we're looking at at this moment. We want to see what else is out there in the NFL."
While it's a good bet CFL general managers are excited about the possibility of landing Ray, a return to three-down football isn't a priority at this point.
As of early yesterday Staninger had been inundated with calls from media types in several CFL cities. Surprisingly, he hadn't heard from any of the nine CFL teams by that point.
"We're going to take one thing at a time here and wait and see," the agent said. "We'll talk to the NFL teams that have expressed an interest.
"It's just too premature to start speculating, 'What if this? What if that?' Let's see what happens first."
At least Ray's time with the Jets was amply rewarding from a financial perspective. He collected a roughly $185,000 signing bonus from the Jets in February of 2004, earned NFL minimum for parts of last season and cashed a roster bonus cheque this March. When you add it all up Ray's stint in New York netted him in the neighbourhood of $450,000 US.
"He made a lot of money," Staninger conceded.
"It was a good experience, no question about it, and he got good coaching," Staninger said.
"Ricky is a much better football player now than he was two years ago.
"But it's time for him to get onto a place where, hopefully, we can get him on the field."