Howell leaves door open

Retired CFL receiver Markus Howell left the door to his career open just a crack, saying he'll make...

Retired CFL receiver Markus Howell left the door to his career open just a crack, saying he'll make a return if the situation is right. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency file photo)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

The Winnipeg lad may have announced his retirement Monday but the speedster could still race back to a CFL gridiron later this season.

Calgary Stampeders receiver/returner/defensive back Markus Howell does not plan to file his official retirement papers just yet, leaving the door open to answer an SOS should another team come calling.

“I can still run,” assured Howell, who began his 10-year career with his hometown Blue Bombers back in 2000. “I did prepare as if I was going to play again this year. I’m in shape and if another team might need me, I might take one more stab at it.”

In fact, Howell has already fielded calls from a number of other CFL teams, including one from new Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice.

“I talked to coach LaPo who told me that I would go on his short list (once available) and to stay in shape,” said Howell, who turned 35 last month. “But it would have to be in the right situation. It would have to be for a team that has a chance to win.”

But that does not mean the Stamps pressured him to call it quits.

“No, no. Huffer (Stamps head coach/GM John Hufnagel) was absolutely first class the whole time,” said Howell, who caught only one pass for 17 yards but returned 43 punts for 309 yards (7.2-yard average) in a limited role last season.

“I’ve got some opportunities, job-wise, and I can’t pursue that while playing football,” said Howell, who lives in Winnipeg with his fiancee, Marie, and their 15-month-old daughter, Jada. “And my fiancee has put her career on hold while I was playing football so, I had to look at the whole situation.”

Howell, who has a degree in finance, has partnered with former Bomber teammate Dave Donaldson to form a company that will help high school football players get better opportunities for scholarships in the U.S. Howell may also get into coaching and is seeking opportunities in the financial world.

In the football world, Howell caught a career total of 151 passes for 2,062 yards and nine touchdowns; returned 241 punts for 2,200 yards (9.1-yard average) one one TD; ran back 75 kickoffs for 1,642 yards (21.9-yard average) and one major; recorded 21 special teams tackles and sometimes filled in at cornerback.

“It’s been a long and interesting 10 years,” said the affable Howell, who suited up for Winnipeg for the first five years of his career before being plucked by Ottawa in the 2005 expansion draft. “The highlight would be winning the Grey Cup (with Calgary) in ‘08. It was ‘finally, finally, finally,’ after all that sweat and tears leading up to it and dealing with you guys in the media.

“I had hoped to get one more ring. If I didn’t have one right now, I wouldn’t be ready to hang ’em up right now.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Montreal Alouettes have signed former Bomber DB Steven Holness and ex-Bomber long-snapper/DL Pat MacDonald who were both free agents.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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