Walking gingerly across the Calgary Stampeders' locker-room the day after a big game in which he didn't play, Jamie Crysdale looks more like a visitor than an old warrior.
As the regular season winds down, the team's longtime centre is looking less and less likely to make a miraculous comeback from the knee surgery he had two weeks ago.
His official retirement could come in the next few days.
"My body has basically told me that enough is enough," said the 36-year-old Crysdale.
"How do you fight that?"
The past two seasons have been rough on Crysdale. Days before training camp opened in 2004, his daughter Grace was diagnosed with leukemia, from which she is making a steady recovery.
In this spring's training camp, the 13-year veteran aggravated his knee and played through the pain. By Game 6, he couldn't take it anymore and ended his consecutive games streak at 210, leaving him with the 10th best mark in CFL history.
After getting his knee scoped, Crysdale missed four games and returned for Labour Day. Five games later, he walked off the field at McMahon Stadium knowing full well it could be the last time wearing the Red and White.
"Obviously, I'm very frustrated with the way this season has gone," said Crysdale, who runs a thriving drilling business outside of the game.
"If that was the last game, what (did I learn)? An understanding of how lucky I was."
The Edmonton Eskimos come to McMahon Stadium Sunday for the Stamps' most important regular-season game in four years. A win secures second place and a home playoff game against those same Eskimos. Crysdale can barely stand to watch.
"This is a tough week," he said.
"We're playing Edmonton at home for home-field advantage in the playoffs. I get goosebumps just thinking about it."
When Crysdale was hurting earlier in the season, fellow lineman Jay McNeil said it was best to take a few games off. People will remember the streak, he told Crysdale, and what No. 67 has done for the organization.
The two played next to each other on the line all but one season of Crysdale's long tenure, which is remarkable considering the average football career lasts only a few seasons.
"I've been very fortunate because I've gotten to play with Jay for 12 years," Crysdale said.
"We're two guys who have got to play on the Stampeders offensive line for as long as we have playing beside each other ... But it is time to move on. I'm just trying to help this team as much as I can now."
And how does Crysdale hope fans will remember him?
"As a guy who came to work every day and worked hard," he said.
"I lived breathed, sweated, bled Stampeders. I gave everything
I had to this team."
And now it's over.
- - -
* COLLEGE -- Cincinnati.
* HOMETOWN -- Mississauga, Ont.
* BIRTHDATE -- Dec. 14, 1968.
* VITALS -- 6 ft. 4 in., 298 lb.
* DID YOU KNOW -- Played all 13 CFL seasons with Stampeders ... Won 2004 Stampeders Presidents' Ring ... Scored his only CFL touchdown in 2000 by recovering a fumble ... 1998 West Division all-star.