Winnipeg – The Blue Bombers probably wish this was an April Fools Joke. But Receiver Ryan Smith has officially retired after just 3 CFL seasons. Including the 2016 campaign with Winnipeg that saw the 25 year old from Wahpeton, North Dakota haul in 53 receptions for 488 yards and 1 touchdown in 11 games.
During a Conference Call with Winnipeg media on Friday Morning, Blue Bombers General Manager Kyle Walters admitted there was surprise initially when Smith informed him and Head Coach Mike O’Shea. “Mike and I talked and said – let’s give him a couple of days and let’s let him just think it through, not make too big a deal out of it until we’re 100% sure.” said Walters. “I can speak from experience. Once the thoughts of retirement start creeping into your brain and this is maybe not what you’re fully committed to, then it’s probably time to retire. It’s such a commitment- physically, mentally in the off-season, getting ready for training camp, that if you’re kind of wavering- then the right decision is to move on. ”
“Although this was an extremely difficult decision, it is one that I am ultimately comfortable with,” said Smith in a team news release . “I have the opportunity to pursue interests outside of football, and I just feel this is the time for me to step away. I would truly like to thank the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, my teammates, the CFL, and the fans of the Blue Bombers. Most importantly, Mr. Wade Miller, Kyle Walters and Coach O’Shea for their understanding and support throughout this process, and ultimately my decision. I will miss the game and the great people in it, but this was the right decision for me at this time.”
Smith also issued a personal statement regarding his decision to retire.
A year or two ago this would have been a devastating blow to the Blue and Gold. But the cupboard is hardly bare with Weston Dressler returning and the re-signing of Darvin Adams and Clarence Denmark as well as the signing of free agent Kenny Stafford. And now the window of opportunity is open for injury plagued Addison Richards, the Blue Bombers 2nd round pick in 2015. And veteran Julian Feoli-Gudino also has a chance to become a bigger part of the offense because of Smith’s decision, and Rory Kohlert signing as a Free Agent with Calgary.