Jude St. John has known for more than a month that the Argonauts were going to cut him loose, but he holds no bitterness toward the Canadian Football League club after it released him yesterday.
"The Argos treated me as courteously as they possibly could," St. John said. "I wish they would have let me finish my contract, but that's the decision they made."
St. John, an offensive guard who spent the past 11 seasons defending Argos quarterbacks, does not plan to retire. But with five kids ranging in age from three years to 10 years at home in London, St. John knows it would be difficult to pick up and move on. Playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats would work, and St. John spent his first three years in the CFL career with the Ticats, but he knows there is not a guarantee of that happening.
"I can't say I would jump at any offer," St. John said. "It would have to take some consideration."
St. John, 36, played hurt much of last season and won the Grey Cup in 2004 with Toronto. He said the league owes him nothing.
So why keep a career going when he has a ring and 14 seasons under his belt? Many players would give a limb to play that long.
"Football is so much a part of what you do in life, and I don't know if I will ever have the sense to know when to stop playing," St. John said. "I'm good physically. When I signed my last contract, I just got it in my mind that I would have played for 15 years. I'm at 14. When you plan for it, it's hard to get it out of your mind."
The Argos had hoped to honour St. John this past Friday afternoon, when they celebrated the careers of centre Chad Folk, safety Chris Hardy and linebacker Mike O'Shea at a Toronto restaurant, but St. John declined.
With the retirements of Folk and Hardy, and the releases of O'Shea and St. John, there will be some large leadership holes in the locker room when training camp opens in June.
The Argos also released offensive tackle Jerome Davis, who played 43 games for the team in three seasons.
St. John spent 181 games in Double Blue, the seventh-most in team history, and third-most by a lineman. He was named an East Division all-star in 2001, 2005 and 2006.
"We would like to thank Jude for all of his years of service," Argos general manager Adam Rita said.
"Jerome has been a warrior and like Jude, has played through injuries. We wish them both the best of luck."