Ricky Ray

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This article is about the Canadian Football League quarterback. For one of three Arcadia, Florida hemophiliac brothers with AIDS, see Ray brothers. For the executed Arkansas murderer, see Ricky Ray Rector.
Ricky Ray
No. 15     Toronto Argonauts
RickyRayArgoQB.jpg
Ray during practice session September 2012.
Date of birth: (1979-10-22) October 22, 1979 (age 34)
Place of birth: Happy Camp, California
Career information
Status: Active
CFL status: International
Position(s): QB
Height: 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
College: Sacramento State
High school: Shasta
Hand: Right
Organizations
As player:
2001
2002
2002-2003
2004
2005-2011
2012-present

San Francisco 49ers*
Fresno Frenzy
Edmonton Eskimos
New York Jets
Edmonton Eskimos
Toronto Argonauts

*Inactive and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star: 2006, 2013
CFL East All-Star: 2013
CFL West All-Star: 2006
Awards: 2003 Rogers Fans' Choice Award
2005 Grey Cup MVP
2013 Terry Evanshen Trophy
Honours: Eskimos' Most Outstanding Player (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
Records: Highest completion percentage in a single season (77.2)
Most pass completions in a single season (479)
Highest completion percentage in a single game (95.0)
Highest passer rating in a single season (126.4)
Career stats
Playing stats at CFL.ca

Ricky Ray (born October 22, 1979 in Happy Camp, California) is a professional Canadian football quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Ray has also spent time in the AFL, as well as spending time on the New York Jets roster in the National Football League. He is most well known for his performance with the Edmonton Eskimos, as he is the franchise's all-time leader in passing yardage, pass completions and passing touchdowns.

College career[edit]

In 1997, an 18-year-old Ray made his debut for Shasta College, a two-year school in Redding, California. Ray became a first-team All-American and state player of the year in 1998.

Ray moved on to play NCAA college football with Sacramento State University. In his first year as a college starter in 1999, Ray completed 179 of 291 passes for 2,422 yards and 20 touchdowns. He suffered a slight dropoff in 2000, completing 168 of 270 passes (62.2%) for 13 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Ray holds the Sacramento State record for completion percentage (.619) and is third in completions and yards. Ray also rewrote the Shasta College record books during his time there, most notably throwing 199 consecutive pass attempts without allowing an interception.

Professional career[edit]

After his college career ended in 2000, Ray attended a training camp for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, but did not make the team and only dressed for a single pre-season game. Ray made his professional debut with the Fresno Frenzy of the Arena Football League's developmental league af2.

Arena Football[edit]

Under the tutelage of former Canadian Football League quarterback Rick Worman, Ray thrived during his brief stay in Fresno. Playing in seven games, Ray was a natural at the Arena game, throwing 25 touchdowns as opposed to only six interceptions for a total of 1,296 yards. Even in the high-scoring environment of arena football, Ray's accuracy and arm strength impressed football observers. Although he was not yet considered a serious prospect, some Canadian football clubs were convinced to give him a look.

CFL debut[edit]

In 2002, Ray made the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos out of training camp. The Eskimos were considered one of the strongest teams in the West Division at the time.[citation needed] However, the Eskimos were deep at quarterback. Starter Jason Maas was considered one of the best at his position in the league.[citation needed] Ray started the season as the Eskimos' third-string quarterback.

Ray (15) dropping back to pass against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Late in the fourth quarter of a Week Four game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Maas was knocked out of the game, and would not be available for the Week Five matchup against the rival BC Lions. Ray made his debut relieving Maas in the Saskatchewan game and his first start against the Lions, throwing for four touchdowns. The first-year Canadian football player threw for 2,991 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions with a quarterback rating of 101.3, highest in the league.

With Maas still recovering from injury, Ray led the Eskimos to the Grey Cup game against Montréal. Ray threw for 324 yards, but the Eskimos lost the 90th Grey Cup to the Alouettes 26-16 at home. Ray failed to convert on a vital two-point conversion late in the game that could have tied the affair at 18-18. The failure forced the Eskimos into an onside kick attempt, which failed as Montréal returned it for a touchdown and took a lead that they would not lose. During the year, Ray received Offensive Player of the Week and Month honours, but was ineligible for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, due to his brief NFL experience.[citation needed]

Maas returned for the 2003 season, setting up a quarterback duel between Maas and Ray during training camp. However, Maas sustained a back injury during the off-season, a condition that would require surgery. Ray remained the starter even after Maas returned.

There was no sophomore jinx for Ray, as, despite splitting time early in the year, he ended up with a 67.6 completion percentage, 4,640 yards, 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and was a candidate for the Most Valuable Player award. The Eskimos rebounded from their slow start and made the playoffs, defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Western final as Ray threw for 356 yards. The 91st Grey Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan featured the Eskimos against the Alouettes. The Eskimos defeated the Alouettes 34-22, for the team's first Grey Cup in a decade. Ray played exceptionally against Alouettes coach Don Matthews's renowned blitzing defense, completing 22 of 32 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns.

NFL career[edit]

After two outstanding years in Canada, Ray began to look south of the border, hoping to follow such CFL stars as Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia, onto a National Football League roster. Ray drew interest from every quarter, and reports that there was an NFL scout at an Eskimos game could draw considerable paranoia from Eskimos fans desperately afraid of losing their new-found star.

The off-season of 2003 was a small circus, as Canadian football fans wondered what path Ray would take. Former Eskimo Warren Moon, a legend in both leagues, advised Ray to stay in the CFL a little while longer to improve as a quarterback and receive a better shot at a starting job. But the lure of the league he had dreamed of in his youth proved too strong to keep Ray in Canada, and he signed with the New York Jets. Even as Ray entered the NFL, former Calgary Stampeders star quarterback Dave Dickenson and former Saskatchewan Roughriders starter Henry Burris, both contemporaries of Ray's and, in the case of Dickenson, a comparable quarterback in terms of style and talent, were finding themselves unable to crack an NFL roster. Both would return to the CFL before the season was over. It was an ominous omen of how Ray's NFL stay would turn out.

In the 2004 NFL season, Ray dressed for six games with the Jets, but did nothing more than hold for extra points and FGs. When starter Chad Pennington went down briefly with a rotator cuff injury, some saw it as a chance for Ray to do in the NFL what he did in Canada. However, backup Quincy Carter came in and played well, dooming Ray to the bench. After the season concluded, Ray was released by the Jets. With no offers to remain on an NFL roster forthcoming for 2005, Ray returned to the Canadian Football League and the Eskimos.

Return to the Eskimos[edit]

Ray's return was accompanied by controversy. He became the favourite to take the starting job in Edmonton, but, once again, the team was deep at quarterback in 2005. In addition to Ray, Jason Maas remained in Edmonton. While Ray had been in the NFL, Maas had been the starter and had played superbly, becoming only the second Eskimo to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season. Khari Jones and Jason Johnson were also hanging around, but neither were possibilities to take the starting job.

As expected, Ray received the starting job out of training camp in 2005. Maas, despite frequent trade rumours, was once again made his backup, and Jones was released outright (he later resurfaced with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats). Johnson remained on the roster as the third quarterback. Ray started the 2005 season strong, leading the league in completions and yardage. He set a pro football record, which still stands today with 479 completions in 2005. However, towards the end of the year, Ray's play faltered, concluding in him not throwing a touchdown in the season's last four games.

In the playoffs, Ray was benched twice more, both in the West Semi-Final against Calgary and the West Final against British Columbia, and both times Maas came on the field, threw very well, and recorded the winning points. Head coach Danny Maciocia, however, promised Ray the start in the 93rd Grey Cup, perhaps because of rumours that a trade of Maas to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had already been arranged. This time, however, Ray seized the opportunity presented to him, throwing for 359 yards and two touchdowns while completing 35 of 45 passes. The Eskimos defeated their old foes the Montréal Alouettes in a thrilling shootout victory, and Ray was the hero as he was named most valuable player.

In 2005, with Ray leading the Eskimos again, the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes met in the Grey Cup game for the 3rd time in 4 years. Once again, the Eskimos were victorious in the rubber match, winning in overtime, 38-35, after an ill advised move by the Montreal quarterback, Anthony Calvillo took a penalty by throwing the ball twice on the same play, and then getting sacked by Charles Alston.[1] This decision put Montreal in a 3rd and 30 situation, and handed Edmonton their 13th Grey Cup Championship. Ray was named Grey Cup MVP of the game for his outstanding performance.

In 2006, Ray started for the Eskimos for every single game of the season. The Eskimos had one of the most successful passing offences in moving the ball downfield, but found a way to fail in the red zone quite often. The bland "take what the defence gives you" style offence that offensive coordinator Danny Maciocca implemented proved to be the downfall of the Eskimos in '06. However, Ray led the league in passing with exactly 5000 yards, and was near the top in completion percentage at 65.7%, 21 TD's, and a passer rating of 89.8. During the season Ray also began to display his ability in scrambling, as the offensive line broke down quite often in the earlier stages of the '06 season. Ray had 469 yards rushing with 9 TD's. Despite the fact that the Eskimos did not make the playoffs, Ray was one of the few bright spots on the Eskimos.

In 2007, Ray continued to be a bright spot on the slow-starting Eskimos. On September 14, 2007, in a win against the Montreal Alouettes Ray surpassed CFL and NFL hall-of-famer Warren Moon to capture the Eskimos' all-time record for career passing yards.[2] On September 28, 2007, he suffered a separated shoulder at the hands of Toronto Argonauts safety Willie Pile, ending his season.[3] Without Ray, the Eskimos lost their remaining five games and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

In 2008, Ray completed 422 of 608 pass attempts (69.8% completion) for a league leading, career best, and single season Eskimo record 5661 yards. Ray threw for 26 TDs and 17 INTs for a 101.8 QB rating. Ray also scrambled for 258 yards and 5 TDs. One of his best games of the season came in the final week of the season vs. the Alouettes when Ray broke the record for highest completion percentage in a single game (with a minimum of 20 passing attempts) when he went 23/25 for 92.0% for 302 yards and 2 TDs in only 3 quarters of play. He led the Esks to a win in the crossover playoff game in Winnipeg, but the team lost in the East finals to Montreal. The 2008 Eskimos were the first team to ever win a crossover game.

In 2009, Ray completed 401 of 596 pass attempts (67.3% completion) for a league leading 4916 yards, 22 TDs and 12 INTs for a 96.4 QB rating. Ray scrambled for 206 yards and 6 TDs. In a game versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ray completed 20 consecutive passes before receiver Jamaica Rector dropped a pass, ending the streak. This remarkable performance left Ray 2nd all time behind teammate Jason Maas (who completed 22 straight passes on July 30, 2004), in the CFL record books for most consecutive pass completions in a single game.

In 2010, Ray completed 288 of 447 pass attempts (64.4% completion) for 3565 yards, 11 TDs and 16 INTs for an 82.3 QB rating. Additionally, Ray scrambled for 302 yards and 3 TDs. In Game 15 Ray had a career rushing performance compiling 135 yards on 12 rushes and a touchdown. Ricky Ray started 16 of the 18 games. Statistically, it was Ray's worst year of his career.

In 2011, Ray completed 343 of 526 pass attempts (65.2% completion) for 4954 yards, 24 TDs and 11 INTs for a 99.3 QB rating. Additionally, Ray scrambled for 258 yards and 1 TD. Ricky Ray had a bounce back season after struggling in 2010. His solid play earned him Offensive Player of the month for the month of September. Ray lead the Eskimos to a record of 11-7, qualifying for the Playoffs.

Trade to the Argonauts[edit]

Ray was traded to the Toronto Argonauts on December 12, 2011 for quarterback Steven Jyles, placekicker Grant Shaw, and a 2012 first round draft pick.[4] Ray went on to win the 100th Grey Cup as the Argonauts' starting quarterback. On May 31, 2013 the Argos extended Ray's contract through the 2015 CFL season. He will be 36 years of age when this new contract expires.[5]

In 2012, Ray completed 321 of 468 pass attempts (68.6% completion) for 4,059 yards, 20 TDs and 11 INTs for a 99.8 QB rating. Rays 68.59% completion rate was a new team record breaking the previous mark of 67.25% set by Kerwin Bell in 1998.[6] Ray injured his knee in the 3rd-quarter of a Week 4 win against the Blue Bombers. He missed the Week 5 game and then returned to the starting lineup in Week 7, following a bye in Week 6.[7] Ray was averaging over 300 yards passing per game compiling a total of 3341 yards in his first 11 games before suffering a knee injury in the 1st quarter of a game against Montreal.[8] Ray would return for the final two games of the season completing 20 of 33 passes for 383 yards 4 TD and no INTs vs Winnipeg and 24 of 30 passes for 305 yards 4 TD and 1 INT against Saskatchewan earning offensive player of the week honors[9] for the latter performance and helping the Argo clinch a playoff spot.

In the division semi-final Ray completed 23 of 30 passes for 239 yards 2 TD no INTs and a rushing touchdown as they defeated Edmonton 42-26. In the process Ray helped the team set a new CFL playoff record for the most points in a single quarter with 31.[10] In the East final Ray completed 28 of 37 passes for 399 yards 1 TD and no INTs as the team beat Montreal on the road 27-20 in advancing to the finals.[11] The Argos would ultimately emerge victorious in the 100th Grey Cup held at home, beating Calgary 35-22. Ray would finish the game 18 for 30 for 231 yards 2 TD and 1 INT.[12] The victory was Rays 3rd Grey Cup, matching Anthony Calvillo for the most Grey Cup wins by the current generation of veteran QBs.

In the 2013, Ray had a phenomenal year setting multiple CFL, pro football and team records, despite suffering a shoulder injury in the first quarter of a game against Calgary in week 7 which forced him to sit out 6 games.[13] Ray would returned before the end of the season helping the Argos clinch first in the east before sitting out the final game of the season.[14]

Ray completed 234 of 303 for 2878 yards in 10 games and had a 77.23% completion percentage which shattered the previous CFL and pro football single season record of 73.98% set by Dave Dickenson in 2005[15] and his own Argo record of 68.59% set last year. Ray finished with 21 TDs and just 2 INTs resulting in a 10.5 to 1 TD to INT ratio breaking the single season CFL record of 6 to 1 set by Dave Dickenson in 2000. Ray also set the CFL record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted in a single season with a 0.66% breaking the previous CFL record of 1.09% set by Anthony Calvillo in 2009. Ray had a streak of 222 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception to begin the year, going back to the previous year the streak was 247 pass attempts,[16] before throwing his first INT on his last pass of a game in week 16 against Hamilton. This figure is possibly a CFL record as the Argo team itself set a league record for most consecutive passes without an interception by a team.[17] Ray finished the year with a record passer efficiency rating of 126.37 surpassing the previous pro football record of 122.46 set by Aaron Rodgers in 2011 and the CFL record of 118.77 set by Dave Dickenson in 2005.[18] On July 19, 2013 Ray completed 19 of 20 passes against Winnipeg setting a new single game CFL and pro football completion percentage record of 95.0% beating the previous record of 94.74% set by Alex Smith in 2012, his own CFL record of 92.0% set in 2008 and the Argos team record of 87.1% set by Condredge Holloway in 1985.[19] In the same game he tied the Argo record for most consecutive pass completions held by Mike Rae with 17.[20] Only to surpass that mark in his final game of the season against Winnipeg. Ray set a new team record with 21 consecutive pass completions, the second longest such streak in CFL history falling one shy of the record of 22 held by Jason Maas.[21] In the same game Ray also set a new personal high for passing yards with 505.[22] It was the first time in his career that he had passed for over 500 yards and the third highest single game total in Argos history.[23] Ray did however break a 53 year old Argo record for most completions in a single game with 39 besting the previous record of 38 set by Tobin Rote in 1960.[24] It was also the 9th time in his career and second time in the year that he had passed for over 400 yards in a game. In addition to the numerous records Ray set, he was named offensive player of the month for September[25] and also named offensive player of week three times. In the first game of the season against Hamilton, Ray complete 24 of 34 passes for 368 yards 4 TDs and no INTs earning him offensive player of the week honors.[26] Ray would earn his second offensive player of the week honors after completed 30 of 35 passes for 413 with 3 TD and no INTs against Edmonton in game 6.[27] And lastly for his aforementioned performance against Winnipeg where he completed 39 of 45 passes for 505 yards 3 TDs and no INTs.[28]

Career statistics[edit]

  Passing   Rushing
Year Team Games Comp Att Pct Yards TD Int Rating Att Yards Avg Long TD Fumb
2002 EDM 15 227 359 63.2 2991 24 9 101.3 44 232 5.3 32 1 9
2003 EDM 18 348 515 67.6 4640 35 13 108.1 62 352 5.7 35 2 9
2004 NYJ 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2005 EDM 18 479 715 67.0 5510 25 24 87.7 83 353 4.3 26 9 13
2006 EDM 18 406 618 65.7 5000 21 18 89.8 92 469 5.1 27 9 6
2007 EDM 13 311 445 69.9 3652 22 10 101.6 41 232 5.7 26 0 8
2008 EDM 18 422 605 69.8 5661 26 17 101.8 75 258 3.4 15 5 13
2009 EDM 18 401 596 67.3 4916 22 12 96.4 47 206 4.4 27 6 3
2010 EDM 17 288 447 64.4 3565 11 16 82.3 37 302 8.2 45 3 9
2011 EDM 18 343 526 65.2 4594 24 11 99.3 41 258 6.3 27 1 13
2012 TOR 14 321 468 68.6 4069 20 11 99.8 17 84 4.9 12 0 7
2013 TOR 11 234 303 77.2 2878 21 2 126.4 11 61 5.5 18 2 3
CFL totals 178 3780 5597 67.5 47,466 251 143 98.0 550 2807 5.1 45 38 93

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Ray is popularly nicknamed "Frito Ray" because, just before joining the Eskimos in 2002, he was working out of football as a driver for the Frito-Lay potato chip company.
  • Ricky Ray appears on the New York Jets roster in Madden NFL 2005 and as a free agent in Madden NFL 06.

References[edit]

  1. ^ CFL Grey Cup Live Commentary
  2. ^ CFL.ca Network :: Official site of the Canadian Football League
  3. ^ edmontonsun.com - Football - Ricky won't be cut
  4. ^ http://www.esks.com/article/eskimos-and-argos-swing-major-trade Eskimos and Argos swing major trade
  5. ^ Contract extension through 2015
  6. ^ http://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/argos-eliminate-arch-rival-ticats-from-playoff-hunt-1.1021748
  7. ^ Ray injures knee, Week 4, 2013 Season
  8. ^ http://www.thestar.com/sports/football/argos/2012/09/23/argonauts_quarterback_ricky_ray_injured_in_3110_loss_to_montreal_alouettes.html
  9. ^ http://argonauts.ca/article/ricky-ray-and-andrew-durie-earn-playor-of-the-week-honours
  10. ^ http://www.cp24.com/sports/argos-beat-eskimos-42-26-advance-to-cfl-east-final-1.1033940
  11. ^ http://thehuddle.co/huddle/argos-stamps-in-100th-grey-game/
  12. ^ http://scratchingpost.thespec.com/2012/11/glenn-still-ringless-argos-win-grey-cup-35-22-over-stamps.html
  13. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/argos-qb-ricky-ray-out-6-weeks-with-shoulder-injury-1.1315511
  14. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/ricky-ray-throws-for-505-yards-argos-cement-1st-in-east-1.2224693
  15. ^ http://www.cfl.ca/uploads/assets/CFL/PDF_Docs/Records_2011_Regular_and_Playoffs.pdf
  16. ^ http://forums.bluebombers.com/index.php?topic=37023.0
  17. ^ http://www.cfl.ca/article/2013-cflca-game-notes-a-look-at-week-8
  18. ^ http://www.cfl.ca/uploads/assets/CFL/PDF_Docs/Records_2011_Regular_and_Playoffs.pdf
  19. ^ http://argonauts.ca/article/qb-ricky-ray-sets-new-cfl-record-for-single-game-completion-percentage
  20. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/ricky-ray-throws-3-tds-as-argonauts-hold-off-eskimos-1.1312282
  21. ^ http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/10/24/ricky-ray-rips-apart-bombers-in-argos-win
  22. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/ricky-ray-throws-for-505-yards-argos-cement-1st-in-east-1.2224693
  23. ^ http://www.argonauts.ca/uploads/assets/TOR/History/Stats___Records.pdf
  24. ^ http://inagist.com/all/393575289240182784/
  25. ^ http://www.thestar.com/sports/argos/2013/10/10/argonauts_ricky_ray_inching_closer_to_return.html
  26. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/argos-qb-ricky-ray-is-cfl-s-offensive-player-of-the-week-1.1352847
  27. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/cfl/argos-qb-ricky-ray-named-offensive-player-of-week-1.1358757
  28. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/sports/sports-cfl/story/1.2287507

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Damon Allen
Grey Cup MVP
2005
Succeeded by
Dave Dickenson