The update the Toronto Argonauts sent out on injured quarterback Ricky Ray Sunday was about as positive as could be expected following the frightening neck injury he suffered in the CFL team’s home opener against the Calgary Stampeders Saturday night, but it still leaves a lot of questions. That injury saw Ray down on the ground for almost 20 minutes, then eventually carted off and taken to hospital. The Argonauts sent out this statement on Ray’s condition Sunday:
Ray was held in a Toronto hospital overnight and has feeling in all extremities.
Ray is resting comfortably and remains in the hospital for further evaluation. Ray did undergo concussion protocol testing and reported no current symptoms.
— Toronto Argonauts (@TorontoArgos) June 24, 2018
That’s good to hear, as this was an awfully frightening hit (which came from a collision of Ray and two Stampeders’ players) and aftermath:
Ricky Ray has not gotten up after this hit. They're bringing out the cart for him now. pic.twitter.com/Rb6vQ1v3uI
— Jefferson Steelflex (@PJG116) June 24, 2018
But there’s still a lot that’s unsaid there, especially when it comes to wondering if the 38-year-old Ray (a four-time Grey Cup champion, including last year, plus a three-time league all-star) will ever play again, and if not, if he’ll be able to live a healthy post-career life. Both of those concerns were on display in comments from Argos’ general manager Jim Popp to Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun on Sunday:
“I wasn’t thinking about the game at all at that point, just the person, just the person,” said Popp. “I thought about his health and well- being and the quality of life and I thought about his family. You’re married. You have kids, they’re in the stands watching this. What’s going through the family’s mind? I was thinking about his wife and his two kids and I contacted them as soon as I could with as much information as I had.”
…Popp grabbed the hand of his most storied player, just as receiver S.J. Green did, and Ray squeezed back, his eyes appearing moist. He squeezed not tightly, but enough of a squeeze that for the moment that it felt encouraging. As encouraging as it can with an athlete on a stretcher, surrounded by doctors holding their breath, a hard plastic collar around his neck, the family in the stadium in its own kind of shock.
“Can you imagine what it’s been like for him?” said Popp. “It’s pretty scary to go through something like that. It’s scary when you’re on the field like that. He probably hasn’t slept all night. He’s probably been up all night, away from his wife and kids, very anxious about his situation. Talking to him last night and today all I can say is, he was Ricky Ray. He was calm, poised, the way you see him all the time. He gave you that feeling, he’s Ricky. You can only hope and pray that everything turns out 100% well for his health.”
And that’s obviously the most important thing here. If Ray retires after this, he’ll have had one of the best careers of any CFL quarterback, and he might choose to leave even if he was physically capable of coming back. This injury doesn’t come in a vacuum, as Ray’s faced everything from shoulder to knee to lung injuries in recent years, and after another scare like this at 38, there may be strong incentive to exit. But he’s persevered through a lot before, too, so the career obituaries shouldn’t be published just yet. At any case, the hope is certainly that Ray will be able to recover from this as much as possible. If he’s able to get back to football, great, but as Simmons and Popp both note, the much more important thing is his long-term health.