On Sunday night, Ray's legacy will be all the more heralded after winning his third Grey Cup for a previously struggling Toronto franchise that couldn't have dreamed of reaching this point before the star quarterback's arrival.
Already the league's sixth all-time leading passer (h/t Toronto Sun)—and holder of all the Eskimos' passing records—Ray's presence lifted the Argonauts to unforeseen heights. The front office traded away their second overall pick in this past year's draft to acquire Ray, and it certainly paid off.
GM Eric Tillman will continue to be the laughingstock of the league, since he's the one who orchestrated the Ray trade from the Eskimos' side for the aforementioned pick, a kicker and an unproven QB.
Checking out the story of the deal on the official Eskimos' website spells out even more of Ray's impressive accolades, including a CFL record 479 completions in the 2005 season, which surpassed the record set by Doug Flutie.
"Sure, the Argos might win a Grey Cup with Ricky Ray, but I don't like their depth at kicker one bit." - Eric Tillman— Rob Tychkowski (@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI) November 26, 2012
The strategy behind that deal will forever be questioned. But the fact that Ray sparked a team that had gone four years without a winning season to the league's pinnacle proves how great he was.
Ray's numbers were solid, if not spectacular: 18-of-30, 232 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Yet it was Ray who was the catalyst. His seven-yard strike to No. 1 receiver Chad Owens opened the scoring and set the tone after a sluggish start from the Argos.
Thanks to the calm of Ray and immense help from outstanding stocky RB Chad Keckert—the game's most outstanding player—Toronto was able to dominate in cruising to a 24-6 halftime lead.
From there, Keckert was able to ground-and-pound the Stampeders to their demise, but it was Ray who was the tone-setter.
First-year head coach Scott Milanovich deserves an immense amount of credit for the Argos' sudden success. You can't say that he wasn't absolutely giddy when he got word of the team landing Ray, though.
Winning a Grey Cup for two different franchises cements Ray's status as a future Hall of Famer, and should make him a first-ballot lock if he wasn't so already.
After the massive triumph, Ray continued to discuss how he has wanted to retire for years, but was glad he returned to be a part of this Toronto team. It had been seven years since Ray last played in the Grey Cup despite his consistently high level of play, and it had to be frustrating to perpetually fall short. But the offense in Toronto better suited his strengths and the fresh start rejuvenated the 33-year-old's career (h/t The Star).
Perhaps Ray can finally settle on retirement after yet another CFL title. Then again, he has returned each of the past six years with immense success.
Let's see if he can be talked into the "repeat" hype sure to stir in Toronto.
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