End of line for warrior

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:39 PM ET

Jamie Crysdale hoped his remarkable football career didn't have to end this way.

In the final regular-season game of his final CFL season, the veteran centre will watch from the sidelines due to a knee injury, certainly an unfamiliar spot for the Calgary Stampeders' Iron Man.

But Crysdale will be on the field against the Edmonton Eskimos for a moment, when the team will honour the 36-year-old with a video presentation at halftime.

"I knew before the season started that this would be it," said Crysdale. "All along I was hoping it wouldn't end this way. It's part of football. I've been fortunate not to have been hurt like this in prior years.

"I'm happy with everything I've done. I can look back on a great career."

This season, Crysdale extended his consecutive-game streak to 210, good enough for 10th on the all-time list.

No. 67 has been a constant for the Stampeders offence since 1993.

He moved to centre in the 1995 season and, until a knee injury forced him out of the lineup in August, was the only player to snap the ball to a quarterback in all that time.

The greatest moment of his career came in 1998 when Crysdale snapped the ball on the game-winning field goal by Mark McLoughlin in the Grey Cup victory over Hamilton.

But Crysdale was also an integral part of the 2001 Cup victory and getting the team to championship games in 1995 and 1999.

The past few seasons have been lean, as the Stamps have missed the playoffs, so it's hard for the veteran to sit as the club participates in post-season action this season.

"But I had the fortune to go to four Grey Cups," said the product of Mississauga, Ont. "To drink champagne from it two times with guys I went to battle with was something I'll never forget.

"The memories are something nobody will take away."

More than anything, Crysdale is enjoying being around the team and meeting all types of players from all over North America. Being in the Stamps locker-room was like visiting different cities because of the stories they would tell about their past experiences.

"I'll miss everybody. Everyone is a little bit different," Crysdale said. "There's a mix of guys in here that I would have never met otherwise. It makes it that much more special.

"You would not be brought together with so many different guys other than on a team of this size. People from all different walks of life."

Crysdale retires from one job to work fully on another. He owns and operates a thriving oil drilling business that now will get his full attention.

As a father of three, Crysdale is looking forward to spending more time with his family. Daughter Grace was diagnosed with leukemia before training camp in 2004. At the same time Crysdale and wife Adrienne found out a third child was on the way.

Annabella was born in the off-season and son Thomas is about to enter school. Crysdale doesn't want to miss any more special moments while on the road or with the team.

"This is a decision my family made last year," he said.

"We really talked about life and what was really important.

"Football has been a huge part of my life and this is a very tough decision but one that I thought about for a long time. I had to explain to my teammates that it was basically time to call it a career and that was hard.

"I want to take the opportunity to address the fans and thank them for all the support. I think they are the greatest fans in the CFL.

"I couldn't have imagined being in a better place."

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BIO BLITZ

CENTRE

JAMIE CRYSDALE

Age -- 36.

Born -- Mississauga, Ont.

Years in CFL -- 12.

College -- Cincinnati.

Titles -- 2001 and 1998 Grey Cup; 1998 West Division all-star; 2004 Stamps Presidents' Ring.

Did you know -- Scored his only CFL touchdown in 2000 by recovering a fumble on a missed field goal by Mark McLoughlin.


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