Stamps' Ralph retires

Brett Ralph's retirement just a few days before training camp leaves a big hole in the Stampeders...

Brett Ralph's retirement just a few days before training camp leaves a big hole in the Stampeders receiving corps. (QMI Agency/Eric Bolte)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

CALGARY — Now the Calgary Stampeders really need Ryan Thelwell to be back to 100% — or at least as close to it as a 37-year-old coming off a torn Achilles tendon can get.

They also had better hope Arjei Franklin is ready for regular duty. Or that Teyo Johnson decides he still wants to play football and ends his hiatus in time for the season.

Or, at last hope, have one of their young non-import receivers — John Forzani, Blaine Kruger and Ron Kelly — make their mark.

Brett Ralph may not be big in stature, but his retirement just a few days before training camp leaves a big hole in the Stampeders receiving corps.

“I hope I haven’t put them in too much of a bind,” said Ralph, who decided last week the time had come to hang up the cleats and made it official Monday.

Calgary’s Canadian content took a hit with the 28-year-old’s retirement after five seasons.

Ralph made the decision after partaking in a full semester at the University of Lethbridge in his quest to finish his education degree.

“I’m still a ways away from getting a degree and felt it would be easier at 28 to go back to school than it would five years from now,” he said. “Nothing negative happened to make me not want to come back, just the need to move on and get that schooling completed.

“It’s tough. It really is. And I’m sure the reality will really kick in when I watch the guys I’ve played with the last five years step onto the field July 1. That’s when it’ll all sink in.

“It’s hard to let go something you’ve done for so many years, but it’s what I feel I need to do. It’s not that I lost a love for the sport, but other things in my life need to be prioritized.”

Ralph never missed a game during his CFL career, which concludes with 175 catches for 2,507 yards and 12 touchdowns in 90 regular-season games.

His 20-yard TD reception was a key moment in the team’s 2008 Grey Cup victory over the Montreal Alouettes.

“Brett has given a lot to this football club over the years and has definitely become a fan favourite,” GM/head coach John Hufnagel said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate to lose a player who has shown great character and commitment to the team, but we have a lot of competition at the receiver position and someone now has a chance to step up at camp.”

Franklin, acquired in a late-season trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is a likely candidate. He handled some of the holding duties when Ralph’s thumb — which required off-season surgery — acted up.

As for Ralph, don’t be shocked to see him coaching the next generation of great athletes from his hometown of Raymond.

“I’m sure the opportunities for that will come when the time’s right,” he said.


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