The Toronto Argonauts recently dismissed fan favourite and marquee defensive end Ricky Foley via a text message. Not surprisingly, Foley and his supporters were less than pleased.
When talking about the state of CFL football in Toronto over the past seven years, it’s difficult not to discuss Ricky Foley. The Courtice, Ont., native has been intertwined with the Argonauts for most of that time, helping the Argos to win the 100th Grey Cup in 2012 while earning Most Valuable Canadian honours in the big game. Not only was he an excellent player, he publicly stuck up for and believed wholeheartedly in his hometown organization when others wouldn’t.
For example, when the move to BMO Field was announced, the Leafs stole the spotlight by announcing the signing of coach Mike Babcock. Foley took exception to this.
Say what you will about it, but it’s clear that Foley wore his heart on his sleeve, willing to fight tooth-and-nail for the Argonauts, on the field - and off.
He was also one of few willing to push back against the rising tide of the self-entitled Toronto FC.
That’s all good.
But now Foley is gone, and some fans simply can’t believe it. Losing a long-time marquee player is never easy. However, Father Time can be cruel to the human body.
Foley was asked by the Argonauts to take a 50 per cent pay cut going into the 2017 season, according to theathletic.com. This, after already taking a pay cut a season earlier in order to accommodate the team’s needs. For a guy that lived and breathed Double Blue, this was an insult.
To be fair, Foley’s stats were in decline. Defensive ends don’t often have a long shelf life. After all, this is not the kicker we are talking about here. This is a physically demanding position, heavily reliant on strength and speed for every down. And that exacts a toll on the body. For Foley, soon to turn 35, to still be competing was frankly, incredible.
That’s the bad.
Yes, football is a business, but the best organizations conduct it with class and honour. There’s a bit of a he said-she said element to what exactly happened here with the way Foley was cut from the team (the Argonauts say they tried to contact him through proper channels before axing him by text), but the bottom line is they indeed did deliver the unfortunate news through a text. Excuses be damned, that’s no way to treat a veteran heart-and-soul warrior.
That’s just ugly.
Image: Ricky Foley after winning the 100th Grey Cup
Image Source: CFL.ca