O'Shea wants to play

Mike O'Shea during Argos practice in Mississauga in Oct. 2008. (Dave Abel/SUN MEDIA)

Mike O'Shea during Argos practice in Mississauga in Oct. 2008. (Dave Abel/SUN MEDIA)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

Retirement, for Mike O'Shea, is a four-letter word that can't be published in a family newspaper.

The 16-year Canadian Football League veteran was remembered yesterday by Argonauts general manager Adam Rita as a passionate football warrior who, figuratively, had to be carried off the gridiron on his shield.

That passion, apparently, has convinced O'Shea his football career is not done, even though his performance last season might have demonstrated otherwise. It's just as possible O'Shea can't bring himself to say he won't play another game in the CFL.

"That might be, I don't know," the 38-year-old linebacker said. "Whether I have played my last game in the CFL remains to be seen. I am not saying that is going to happen somewhere else or not. I don't know.

"I know how I am feeling. Passion is irresistible. I just know I am not retiring."

The Argos made it clear O'Shea is out of their plans, even as a backup. His option was not picked up by the club, which feted O'Shea, centre Chad Folk and safety Chris Hardy at a downtown Toronto restaurant. Folk and Hardy weren't as grey -- they announced their CFL careers are over. Folk played all 12 of his CFL years for the Argos, while Hardy spent the past six seasons in Double Blue after six years in the uniform of his hometown Edmonton Eskimos.

The writing for Folk was on the wall when the Argos signed free-agent centre Dominic Picard.

"It seems like yesterday that I was attending my first Argos press conference and it's hard to believe 12 years have gone by so quickly," Folk said, blinking back tears. "I had the time of my life coming to work every day."

O'Shea's 271 games played are more than any other defensive player in CFL history, and he is second in league history with 1,151 defensive tackles. His 822 defensive tackles are an Argos record.

There are indications that O'Shea is finished as a player. He has not been in contact with other teams, and they have not been with him. He does not want to move his family, but ruled out playing in Hamilton, where he thinks Ray Mariusz is the No. 1 man at his position. And though O'Shea has worked in the off-season before, he now has a full-time job in sales for a company that handles hospital equipment.

The Argos traded for Zeke Moreno to replace O'Shea, who acknowledged that when he does decided to retire, he does not intend to do so publicly, saying he would simply have "a quiet dinner and a few bottles of wine with family."

By the end of last season, O'Shea was playing only on special teams. Some candidates interviewed for the head coaching job told the Argos they needed a new middle linebacker and O'Shea himself said he was not good enough.

"I did not provide enough leadership, I was not up to snuff," O'Shea said. "There were certain games where my lack of making a play determined the outcome."

But?

"I know I can play again, despite what the pundits say," O'Shea said. "There is a small group of people that I trust. We have all come to the conclusion that I could do it again."

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40 YEARS OF SWEAT

The Argonauts said goodbye to three players yesterday -- Mike O'Shea, Chad Folk and Chris Hardy -- who combined to play 40 years in the CFL. The Argos' training staff determined the following numbers the three players combined to put up:

Yards of tape used 97,800

Litres of water drank 25,120

Litres of sweat produced 14,880

Hours of practice 3,500

Bags of ice 3,500

Bandaids 2,088

Hours in cold tub 725

Games played 652

Hours in hot tub 575

Grey Cups 6


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