Ricky Ray

Last updated

Ricky Ray
No. 15
Ray during practice session September 2012.
Born: (1979-10-22) October 22, 1979 (age 41)
Happy Camp, California, U.S.
Career information
CFL status American
Position(s) QB
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight210 lb (95 kg)
College Sacramento State
High school Shasta (CA)
Hand Right
Career history
As player
2001 San Francisco 49ers*
2002 Fresno Frenzy
20022003 Edmonton Eskimos
2004 New York Jets
20052011 Edmonton Eskimos
20122018 Toronto Argonauts
*Inactive and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star 2006, 2013, 2014
CFL East All-Star 2013, 2014, 2017
CFL West All-Star 2006
Awards 2003 Rogers Fans' Choice Award
2005 Grey Cup MVP
Terry Evanshen Trophy (2013, 2014, 2017)
CFL passing yards leader (2006, 2008, 2009, 2014)
CFL passing touchdowns leader (2014)
HonoursEskimos' Most Outstanding Player (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
RecordsHighest completion percentage in a single season (77.2)
Highest completion percentage in a single game (95.0)
Highest passer rating in a single season (126.4)
Most Grey Cup wins by a starting Quarterback (4)
Career stats
Pass attempts7,247
Pass completions4,942
Passing yards60,429
Passer rating98.4

Ricky Ray (born October 22, 1979) is an American former professional Canadian football quarterback. Ray spent the majority of his professional career with the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He also briefly spent time in the af2, as well as with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). Ray is the Eskimos all-time leader in passing yardage, pass completions and passing touchdowns. He won the Grey Cup in 2003, 2005, 2012, and 2017. He formally announced his retirement from professional football on May 8, 2019. [1]


College career

In 1997, Ray made his debut for Shasta College, a two-year community college in Redding, California. He became a first-team All-American and state player of the year in 1998. He also set several school records during his time at Shasta, most notably throwing 199 consecutive pass attempts without allowing an interception. [2] On December 20, 2014, Ricky was inducted into the Shasta County Sports Hall Of Fame. [3] [4]

Ray moved on to play NCAA college football with Sacramento State University. In 1999, Ray completed 179 of 291 passes for 2,422 yards and 20 touchdowns. In 2000, he completed 168 of 270 passes (62.2%) for 13 touchdowns with 6 interceptions. Ray is still in the top ten for many Sacramento State career passing records.

College career statistics

College Career statistics
Shasta Knights
CCCAA Career Totals35158846324518110389
Sacramento State Hornets
NCAA Career Totals3475614622331415124715

Professional career

San Francisco 49ers

After his college career ended in 2000, Ray, having gone undrafted by the NFL, attended training camp with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, but did not make the team and only dressed for a single pre-season game. He earned the nickname "Frito Ray" by teammates, as he was working as a delivery driver for Frito-Lay chips when he was called up for training camp.

Fresno Frenzy

Ray made his professional debut with the Fresno Frenzy of the Arena Football League's developmental league af2. He played seven games for the Frenzy, where he was coached by former CFL quarterback Rick Worman. He completed 116 passes for 1,296 yards, 25 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. [5] Worman was instrumental in arranging a tryout with the Eskimos. [6]

Edmonton Eskimos

In 2002, Ray made the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos out of training camp. The Eskimos were considered one of the strongest teams in the West Division at the time.[ citation needed ] However, the Eskimos were deep at quarterback. Starter Jason Maas was considered one of the best at his position in the league.[ citation needed ] Ray started the season as the Eskimos' third-string quarterback.

Late in the fourth quarter of a Week Four game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Maas was knocked out of the game, and would not be available for the Week Five matchup against the rival BC Lions. Ray made his debut relieving Maas in the Saskatchewan game and his first start against the Lions, throwing for four touchdowns. Ray threw for 2,991 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions with a quarterback rating of 101.3, highest in the league.

With Maas still recovering from injury, Ray led the Eskimos to the Grey Cup game against Montréal. Ray threw for 324 yards, but the Eskimos lost the 90th Grey Cup to the Alouettes 26-16 at home. Ray failed to convert on a vital two-point conversion late in the game that could have tied the affair at 18–18. The failure forced the Eskimos into an onside kick attempt, which failed as Montréal returned it for a touchdown and took a lead that they would not lose. During the year, Ray received Offensive Player of the Week and Month honours, but was ineligible for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, due to his brief NFL experience.[ citation needed ]

Maas returned for the 2003 season, setting up a quarterback duel between Maas and Ray during training camp. However, Maas sustained a back injury during the off-season, a condition that would require surgery. Ray remained the starter even after Maas returned.

Ray, despite splitting time early in the year, he ended up with a 67.6 completion percentage, 4,640 yards, 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and was a candidate for the Most Outstanding Player award. The Eskimos rebounded from their slow start and made the playoffs, defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Western final as Ray threw for 356 yards. The 91st Grey Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan featured the Eskimos against the Alouettes. The Eskimos defeated the Alouettes 34–22, for the team's first Grey Cup in a decade. Ray played exceptionally against Alouettes coach Don Matthews's renowned blitzing defense, completing 22 of 32 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns.

New York Jets

After two years in Canada, Ray began to look south of the border. Former Eskimo Warren Moon, a legend in the NFL and CFL, advised Ray to stay in the CFL a little while longer to improve as a quarterback and receive a better shot at a starting job. But the lure of the league he had dreamed of in his youth proved too strong to keep Ray in Canada, and he signed with the New York Jets.

In the 2004 NFL season, Ray dressed for six games with the Jets. When starter Chad Pennington went down briefly with a rotator cuff injury, backup Quincy Carter came in and played well, relegating Ray to the bench. After the season concluded, Ray asked for his release by the Jets. [7] Ray subsequently returned to the Eskimos.

Return to the Eskimos

Ray's return was accompanied by controversy. He became the favourite to take the starting job in Edmonton, but, once again, the team was deep at quarterback in 2005. In addition to Ray, Maas remained in Edmonton. While Ray had been in the NFL, Maas had been the starter and had played superbly, becoming only the second Eskimo to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season.

Ray received the starting job out of training camp in 2005. Maas, despite frequent trade rumours, was once again made his backup. Jason Johnson remained on the roster as the third quarterback. Ray started the 2005 season strongly, leading the league in completions and yardage. He set a pro football record with 479 completions in 2005. However, towards the end of the year, Ray's play faltered, concluding in him not throwing a touchdown in the season's last four games.

In the playoffs, Ray was benched twice more, both in the West Semi-Final against Calgary and the West Final against British Columbia, and both times Maas came on the field, threw very well, and recorded the winning points. Head coach Danny Maciocia, however, promised Ray the start in the 93rd Grey Cup, perhaps because of rumours that a trade of Maas to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had already been arranged. This time, however, Ray seized the opportunity presented to him, throwing for 359 yards and two touchdowns while completing 35 of 45 passes. The Eskimos defeated their old foes the Montréal Alouettes in a thrilling shootout victory, and Ray was named most valuable player of the Grey Cup.

In 2005, with Ray leading the Eskimos again, the Eskimos and Alouettes met in the Grey Cup game for the third time in four years. Once again, the Eskimos were victorious in the rubber match, winning in overtime, 38–35, after an ill-advised move by the Montreal quarterback, Anthony Calvillo took a penalty by throwing the ball twice on the same play, and then getting sacked by Charles Alston. [8] This decision put Montreal in a 3rd and 30 situation, and handed Edmonton their 13th Grey Cup Championship. Ray was named Grey Cup MVP for his performance.

In 2006, Ray started for the Eskimos for every single game of the season, led the league in passing with exactly 5,000 yards, and was near the top in completion percentage at 65.7%, 21 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 89.8.

Ray (15) dropping back to pass against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007. RickyRay.jpg
Ray (15) dropping back to pass against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007.

On September 14, 2007, in a win against the Montreal Alouettes, Ray surpassed CFL and NFL hall-of-famer Warren Moon to capture the Eskimos' all-time record for career passing yards. [9] On September 28, 2007, he suffered a separated shoulder at the hands of Toronto Argonauts safety Willie Pile, ending his season. [10] Without Ray, the Eskimos lost their remaining five games and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

In 2008, Ray completed 422 of 608 pass attempts (69.8% completion) for a league-leading, career-best, and single-season Eskimo record 5,661 yards. Ray threw for 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a 101.8 quarterback rating. Ray also scrambled for 258 yards and 5 touchdowns. One of his best games of the season came in the final week of the season vs. the Alouettes when Ray broke the record for highest completion percentage in a single game (with a minimum of 20 passing attempts) when he went 23 of 25 for 92.0% for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns in only 3 quarters of play. He led the Esks to a win in the crossover playoff game in Winnipeg, but the team lost in the East finals to Montreal. The 2008 Eskimos were the first team to ever win a crossover game.

In 2009, Ray completed 401 of 596 pass attempts (67.3% completion) for a league leading 4,916 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a 96.4 quarterback rating. Ray scrambled for 206 yards and 6 touchdowns. In a game versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ray completed 20 consecutive passes before receiver Jamaica Rector dropped a pass, ending the streak. This remarkable performance left Ray 2nd all time behind teammate Jason Maas (who completed 22 straight passes on July 30, 2004), in the CFL record books for most consecutive pass completions in a single game.

In 2010, Ray completed 288 of 447 pass attempts (64.4% completion) for 3,565 yards, 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for an 82.3 quarterback rating. Additionally, Ray scrambled for 302 yards and three touchdowns. In Game 15, Ray had a career rushing performance, compiling 135 yards on 12 rushes and a touchdown. He started 16 of the 18 games. Statistically, it was the worst year of his career.

In 2011, Ray completed 343 of 526 pass attempts (65.2% completion) for 4,954 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 99.3 quarterback rating. Additionally, Ray scrambled for 258 yards and 1 touchdown. Ricky Ray had a bounce back season after struggling in 2010. His solid play earned him Offensive Player of the month for the month of September. Ray lead the Eskimos to a record of 11–7, qualifying for the Playoffs.

Toronto Argonauts

Ray was traded to the Toronto Argonauts on December 12, 2011, for quarterback Steven Jyles, placekicker Grant Shaw, and a 2012 first round draft pick. [11] Ray went on to win the 100th Grey Cup as the Argonauts' starting quarterback. On May 31, 2013 the Argos extended Ray's contract through the 2015 CFL season. [12]

In 2012, Ray completed 321 of 468 pass attempts (68.6% completion) for 4,059 yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 99.8 quarterback rating. Rays 68.59% completion rate was a new team record breaking the previous mark of 67.25% set by Kerwin Bell in 1998. [13] Ray injured his knee in the third quarter of a Week 4 win against the Blue Bombers. He missed the Week 5 game and then returned to the starting lineup in Week 7, following a bye in Week 6. [14] Ray was averaging over 300 yards passing per game compiling a total of 3,341 yards in his first 11 games before suffering a knee injury in the 1st quarter of a game against Montreal. [15] Ray would return for the final two games of the season completing 20 of 33 passes for 383 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions vs Winnipeg and 24 of 30 passes for 305 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interceptions against Saskatchewan, earning offensive player of the week honors [16] for the latter performance and helping the Argo clinch a playoff spot.

In the division semi-final Ray completed 23 of 30 passes for 239 yards, 2 touchdowns no interceptions and a rushing touchdown as they defeated Edmonton 42–26. In the process Ray helped the team set a new CFL playoff record for the most points in a single quarter with 31. [17] In the East final, Ray completed 28 of 37 passes for 399 yards 1 touchdowns and no interceptions as the team beat Montreal on the road 27–20 in advancing to the finals. [18] The Argos would ultimately emerge victorious in the 100th Grey Cup held at home, beating Calgary 35–22. Ray would finish the game 18 for 30 for 231 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. [19] The victory was Rays 3rd Grey Cup, matching Anthony Calvillo for the most Grey Cup wins by the current generation of veteran quarterbacks.

In the 2013, Ray had a phenomenal year setting multiple CFL, pro football and team records, despite suffering a shoulder injury in the first quarter of a game against Calgary in Week 7 which forced him to sit out six games. [20] Ray would return before the end of the season helping the Argos clinch first in the east before sitting out the final game of the season. [21]

Ray completed 234 of 303 for 2,878 yards in 10 games and had a 77.23% completion percentage which broke the previous CFL and pro football single season record of 73.98% set by Dave Dickenson in 2005 [22] and his own Argo record of 68.59% set last year. Ray finished with 21 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions, resulting in a 10.5 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio, breaking the single season CFL record of 6 to 1 set by Dave Dickenson in 2000. Ray also set the CFL record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted in a single season with a 0.66% breaking the previous CFL record of 1.09% set by Anthony Calvillo in 2009. Ray had a streak of 222 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception to begin the year, going back to the previous year the streak was 247 pass attempts, [23] before throwing his first interception on his last pass of a game in Week 16 against Hamilton. This figure is possibly a CFL record as the Argo team itself set a league record for most consecutive passes without an interception by a team. [24] Ray finished the year with a record passer efficiency rating of 126.37, surpassing the previous pro football record of 122.46 set by Aaron Rodgers in 2011 and the CFL record of 118.77 set by Dave Dickenson in 2005. [25] On July 19, 2013, Ray completed 19 of 20 passes against Winnipeg setting a new single game CFL and pro football completion percentage record of 95.0%, beating the previous record of 94.74% set by Alex Smith in 2012, his own CFL record of 92.0% set in 2008 and the Argos team record of 87.1% set by Condredge Holloway in 1985. [26] In the same game, he tied the Argo record for most consecutive pass completions held by Mike Rae with 17. [27] Only to surpass that mark in his final game of the season against Winnipeg. Ray set a new team record with 21 consecutive pass completions, the second longest such streak in CFL history, falling one shy of the record of 22 held by Jason Maas. [28] In the same game Ray also set a new personal high for passing yards with 505. [29] It was the first time in his career that he had passed for over 500 yards and the third highest single game total in Argos history. [30] Ray did however break a 53-year-old Argo record for most completions in a single game with 39 besting the previous record of 38 set by Tobin Rote in 1960. [31] It was also the 9th time in his career and 2nd time in the year that he had passed for over 400 yards in a game. In addition to the numerous records Ray set, he was named offensive player of the month for September [32] and also named offensive player of week three times. In the first game of the season against Hamilton, Ray complete 24 of 34 passes for 368 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions, earning him offensive player of the week honors. [33] Ray would earn his second offensive player of the week honors after completed 30 of 35 passes for 413 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions against Edmonton in game 6. [34] And lastly for his aforementioned performance against Winnipeg, where he completed 39 of 45 passes for 505 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. [35]

Ray before a home game against the BC Lions in 2017. Ricky Ray 2017.JPG
Ray before a home game against the BC Lions in 2017.

Ricky Ray played in all but 1 of the 18 regular season games during the 2014 CFL season, however the Argos were unable to qualify for the postseason, finishing with a record of 8–10. Ray had one of his highest volume seasons as a passing quarterback in his career during the 2014 campaign. His 425 pass completions was the second highest of his career, trailing only his 2003 season with the Eskimos when he completed 479 passes. Ray attempted 620 passes over the course of the season, which was the 4th most attempts in his career, and the most since 2008. He racked up a league-leading 4,595 passing yards, which his most yards in a season since 2009.

In November 2014, following the conclusion of the Argos season, Ray had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder and a small tear in his right rotator cuff. The recovery time for the surgery was estimated to be around six months, which would allow Ray to return action in time for CFL training camp in the spring of 2015. [36] However, Ray's recovery went slower than expected: As a result, the Argos placed Ray on the six-game injured list during the preseason. [37] Ray missed the first 16 games of the 2015 CFL season, making his first start of the season in Week 19 against the BC Lions. At the time of his return, the Argos were 8–8, having clinched a playoff berth, they were fighting for a home playoff game (which they lost when they were defeated by the Lions). [38] Ray played in the final regular season game and also the Eastern Semi-Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In the playoff game Ray completed 22 of 34 pass attempts for 220 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception; however Justin Medlock kicked a 47-yard field goal with no time on the clock to eliminate the Argos, thus ending their season. [39] On December 3, 2015, Ray and the Argos agreed on a contract extension; preventing him from becoming a free-agent in February 2015. [40] Entering the 2016 season Ray was finally 100% healed from his shoulder injury which had plagued him since November 2014. Ray started the first five games of the season before sustaining a knee injury as defensive lineman Vaughn Martin rolled up into him in the third quarter. Following the game Ricky Ray was diagnosed with an sprained MCL, and was expected to miss between three and six weeks. [41] Ray missed three games over the following five weeks before returning to play in the Labour Day weekend games against the BC Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Following their Labour Day game against the Tiger-Cats, reports surfaced suggesting Ray would miss the remainder of the 2016 CFL season with a punctured lung. [42] The following day, it was announced that Ray would miss between four and six weeks with a partially deflated lung. This was Ray's second significant injury in 2016 and he has only played one full season since 2011. [43] After missing six weeks recovering from a partially deflated lung Ray returned to the starting lineup in Week 18 of the regular season. However, he was unable to best the league-leading Stampeders and as a result the Argos were eliminated from playoff contention, falling to a record of 5–12. [44]

On February 28, 2017, at his introductory press conference, newly appointed head coach Marc Trestman declared Ray the Argos starting quarterback for the 2017 season: Despite Ray having only started 12 games over the previous two seasons. [45] In the opening game of the season, Ray threw for a career-high 506 yards in a 32-15 win over the rival Tiger-Cats. [46] On July 29, 2017, Ray surpassed Condredge Holloway to become the franchise leader in passing yards. Holloway threw for 16,616 yards between 1981 and 1986. [47] On August 19, 2017, Ray became the Argonauts' all-time passing touchdown leader with his 99th touchdown pass, surpassing Holloway's 98. [48] In that same game, he threw for his 100th touchdown pass as an Argonaut, becoming the first player in CFL history to throw at least 100 touchdown passes for two franchises. On October 21, 2017, Ray reached the 60,000 career passing-yard mark, becoming just the fourth player in CFL history to accomplish the milestone. [49] In that same game, he also hit 5,000 passing yards for the season, joining Doug Flutie and Anthony Calvillo as the only players to pass for 5,000 yards at least four times in their careers. That game also marked the 12th time he eclipsed the 300-yard mark that season, which is an Argonauts record. [50] The Argonauts finished the season 1st in the East with a 9-9 record, the only .500 team in the division. For his performance, Ray finished as runner-up to Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly for the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award. He would go on and win his fourth Grey Cup against the Calgary Stampeders in the 105th Grey Cup game. One day after the Argos Grey Cup parade, Ray conveyed to reporters that he was "seriously considering retirement". Ray, 38 years of age, who was a pending free agent for the 2018 season, said there was no timetable for a decision. [51] On February 2, 2018 Ray and the Argos agreed to a one-year contract extension. [52]

Ray was carted off the field in the second half of the Argos Week 2 loss to the Calgary Stampeders after being awkwardly tackled between a pair of Stampeder defensive linemen. [53] Ray was hospitalized, and the following day the team confirmed that Ray did indeed have feeling in all of his extremities. [54] Given his age (38), and the severity of the injury, Ray's future as a quarterback was placed in doubt. [55] Only a couple days later team doctors advised Ray to not play again in 2018. [56] On September 24, 2018 Head Coach Marc Trestman confirmed that Ray would not return to the Argos for the 2018 season. [57] In early November 2018 Ray was still considering his options, leaving the door open for a possible return in 2019. [58] By early March Ray had not informed the Argos of his intentions for the 2019 season, and still needed to be cleared by doctors before returning to the field. General manager Jim Popp hinted that if Ray were to return to the Argos it would be as a backup quarterback, possibly transitioning to a coaching role in the future. [59] On May 8, 2019 Ray held a press conference to officially announce his retirement. [60]

CFL statistics

 Passing Rushing
2002 EDM 181422735963.22,991249101.3442325.33219
2003 EDM 181834851567.64,6403513108.1623525.73529
2005 EDM 181847971567.05,510252487.7833534.326913
2006 EDM 181840661865.75,000211889.8924695.12796
2007 EDM 131331144569.93,6522210101.6412325.72608
2008 EDM 181842260569.85,6612617101.8752583.415513
2009 EDM 181840159667.34,916221296.4472064.42763
2010 EDM 171628844764.43,565111682.3373028.24539
2011 EDM 181834352665.24,594241199.3412586.327113
2012 TOR 141432146868.64,069201199.817844.91207
2013 TOR 111023430377.22,878212126.411615.51823
2014 TOR 171742562068.54,595281595.1412165.31515
2015 TOR 32476572.34232193.3252.5401
2016 TOR 9922829874.52,397156110.413534.11901
2017 TOR 171747466871.05,5462811102.98526.51007
2018 TOR 22345462.93070170.5188800
CFL totals2342194,9767,30168.1660,73632417798.236143,1415.14539107

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  1. "Ricky Ray officially retires from CFL". CFL.ca. May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  2. "Ricky Ray". argonauts.ca. Archived from the original on October 26, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. Induction Ceremony Events & Information, Shasta County Sports Hall Of Fame website
  4. Ray Headed To Shasta Sports Hall of Fame, KRCR-TV website, December 17, 2014
  5. Highlights
  6. Dunk, Justin (October 23, 2017). "Ricky Ray has come a long way from the Fresno Frenzy - 3DownNation". 3DownNation. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
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  10. edmontonsun.com - Football - Ricky won't be cut
  11. http://www.esks.com/article/eskimos-and-argos-swing-major-trade Eskimos and Argos swing major trade
  12. Contract extension through 2015
  13. http://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/argos-eliminate-arch-rival-ticats-from-playoff-hunt-1.1021748
  14. Ray injures knee, Week 4, 2013 Season
  15. https://www.thestar.com/sports/football/argos/2012/09/23/argonauts_quarterback_ricky_ray_injured_in_3110_loss_to_montreal_alouettes.html
  16. http://argonauts.ca/article/ricky-ray-and-andrew-durie-earn-playor-of-the-week-honours
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  27. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/ricky-ray-throws-3-tds-as-argonauts-hold-off-eskimos-1.1312282
  28. http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/10/24/ricky-ray-rips-apart-bombers-in-argos-win
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  33. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/argos-qb-ricky-ray-is-cfl-s-offensive-player-of-the-week-1.1352847
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  35. http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/sports/sports-cfl/story/1.2287507
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