Ironman still laughing

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:21 AM ET

How can any player on the 2-10 Calgary Stampeders consider himself lucky? Jamie Crysdale insists he qualifies.

In 12 CFL campaigns, the Stamps offensive lineman has grunted through 217 regular-season, playoff and Grey Cup games without an injury. At least, without a wound serious enough to force the affable trench veteran to the sidelines for even one snap.

"You can always say exercise and training helps but there's some good luck in there, too," shrugs the 35-year-old centre, who'll suit up for his 200th consecutive regular-season game Friday night when the Ottawa Renegades visit McMahon Stadium.

"I've had guys thrown on the back of my legs and had refs come up to me and ask, 'Are you OK?' and it's like, 'What are you talking about?'

"I've been fortunate. I haven't had any surgeries as a pro. I had shoulder surgery in college but, for the most part, I've been very fortunate to not spend time in the training room and my body's always responded quickly to any kind of treatment."

The 6-ft. 4-in., 285-lb., University of Cincinnati product suffered painful strained chest muscles earlier this season, threatening to sideline him for the first time but he's played through the pain, continuing his ironman streak.

His remarkable durability leaves him 53 regular-season games behind Leo Groenewegen, whose CFL all-time consecutive game streak, not including kickers, ended during the 2001 season.

Crysdale will never see that mark as he intends to either retire after this season or next year, depending on the Stampeders' extensive rebuilding program.

Also playing on the Mississauga, Ont., native's mind is the health of his young daughter, Grace, diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, while wife Adrienne is expecting their third child in January.

Next season is his option year and if the Stamps' prospects for success don't improve, he'll walk away for good to work full-time with his burgeoning Gridiron Rathole Drilling oil business.

"I'm going to have to take some time to think about it but

I don't really want to end it this way," Crysdale says. "As long as I see improvements being made for the positive, I'll come back but I can't think about that right now. We'll finish the season and take it from there."

Crysdale landed in Calgary in 1993 after being a late cut of the New York Giants. He arrived near the beginning of an amazing dynasty in Calgary that included two Grey Cup championships.

Struggles on the field this season have made him wonder about his future.

"This year, it's tested me, that's for sure," Crysdale says. "It's been a very strange year. I never would have expected my daughter would get diagnosed with leukemia, same day I find out my wife's pregnant.

"At the same time, I'm running my own business, doing all the sales, marketing and dispatch for it, so it ends up being a busy day and football makes it that much busier.

"I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't still having fun but being 2-10 isn't good. Everyone wants to go out with a Grey Cup win but I've been very fortunate to be in four Grey Cups, winning two."

Crysdale was reminded of why he still plays during last week's road trip to Edmonton while sharing laughs with longtime teammates Scott Regimbald, Joe Fleming and Jay McNeil.

"You either come out and play because you love the game or you come out because you're being paid," says Crysdale. "We don't make a ton of money. I'm probably making the best money of my career and I'm probably playing some of my best football but it is still fun. You have to enjoy the game day, getting up for the game and having people watch you play, so it's still fun to play."


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