Ticats offensive lineman Mathieu Girard retires at 25

Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive linemen Mathieu Girard is retiring from football at the age of 25 and while his departure makes perfect sense on a personal level, there’s little question his sudden departure will make things more difficult for the team in the short term.

Girard has taken a full-time job in information technology with KPMG, an international professional services company with revenues in excess of $25 billion (yes, billion) in 2016. For a guy with a degree in the field – he’s also working on his Master’s – it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“As much as I love football, I’m looking at my long-term goals,” Girard said. “I didn’t want to finish playing at 35-years-old without any job experience.”

Girard said he’ll make nearly as much with KPMG as he would have with the Ticats this season and that his earning prospects in the future are far greater away from football.

There were other, albeit lesser factors as well. The job allows him to live full-time in his native Montreal where he and his fiancée have just purchased a home. And after suffering a head injury that forced him to miss the final game of the 2016 regular season and the playoffs, Girard is more aware than ever of the risks involved in playing.

“I’ve always been healthy but the concussion did scare me a little,” Girard said. “Physically, I’m feeling good but it got me thinking ‘is it worth it?'”

Originally a sixth round draft pick in 2014 out of the University of Montreal, Girard has developed into a useful, versatile player after converting from defensive line. He played in all 18 games his rookie season in 2015 as back up offensive lineman and long snapper, then made six starts at centre last year in place of the injured Mike Filer.

With the release of Peter Dyakowski on Feb. 16 – before the Ticats knew Girard was retiring – the third-year man would have likely been in contention for a starting spot, particularly if the team was looking to use four Canadian offensive linemen among their seven national starters. With his departure, that’s almost impossible.

Would the Ticats have released Dyakowsi had they known Girard was walking away from the game? Unlikely.

“Part of me feels bad about it because I love my teammates and I don’t see myself as the best player on the team but I think I could have helped the team,” Girard said. “But in this business, you either go on your own terms or the team decides when it’s time for you to go.”

Girard said he hasn’t doubted his decision since informing the team close to a month ago and has already lost 25 pounds from his playing weight of 310 as he tries to get down to a more healthy 250 pounds.

“The Ticats asked me why but they understood,” Girard said. “There was nothing they could have done to make me stay. I told them ‘I’ve made peace with this already.’”

While he has no interest in coaching, Girard plans to stay involved with the game as a fundraiser for the University of Montreal. And he plans on watching his former team when they come to Percival Molson Stadium next season.

“As much as I love Montreal, I enjoyed playing for the Ticats, the way the city and the fans support the team,” he said. “I’ll miss that, too.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (953 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

24 Comments on Ticats offensive lineman Mathieu Girard retires at 25

  1. Lindsay Wilcox // April 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm //

    Ticats might make a deal to get a young, but experienced Canadian OL; I doubt they can count on finding a diamond in the draft, unless they are willing to bypass Vandervoot

  2. I thought Girard had the potential to be a 10yr starter at C/G. That being said, I don’t blame any CFL’er for leaving for a normal career. However, he is easily replaceable. No concerns here. Cheers

  3. Oskee Wee Wee // April 5, 2017 at 6:02 pm //

    Can we trade back for Dyakowski? Lol

  4. An unfortunate turn of events for the team but I can’t blame Girard for wanting to secure his future when the opportunity arises. Seems to me that this year’s draft class isn’t too deep in talented OL prospects, especially ones like last year’s pick, Revenberg, who might be ready to play an important role sooner rather than later. At least the team has a bit of time to figure out how to handle this departure before the draft and the beginning of training camp.

  5. moncton ticats fan // April 5, 2017 at 7:36 pm //

    Wish him well, but it means that the Cats have to rejig things a bit. Revenberg just might be the answer, or maybe part of it at least?? As we all know, long term football employment is never guaranteed.

  6. Smart kid

  7. Dario Cueto // April 5, 2017 at 8:59 pm //

    Guy will make more money in a normal job rather than getting his brains bashed out in the CFL for peanuts. Can’t blame him. Wonder if the TiCats will alter their draft strategy to address this unexpected turn of events.

  8. He will be missed and I really believe that the Ticats had to move on from Dyakowski who just was not the same after his injury in the 2013 Grey Cup.

  9. Solara2000 // April 5, 2017 at 10:23 pm //

    Good to see someone ‘ taking control’ of his career. As a 60 year CFL fan, history demonstrates the temporal nature of the game with contracts guaranteed for only one year at a time. For some they reach a different answer but that’s great as well.
    Best wishes to the young man.

  10. Joe King // April 6, 2017 at 7:52 am //

    Soon to be talked out of retirement by the Allwets

  11. This will have less impact on the Ticats than if he had won a starting job on the OL as the 4th National… then was lost for the season due to injury…

    Similar to drafting Moe Petrus as potential starting OL… who then retired on eve of training camp…

    Wish him all the best… the CFL and the Ticats will survive…

  12. Dario Cueto // April 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm //

    Maybe Hamilton should draft an O-Line man in the 1st round as opposed to that dud WR mock drafts are predicting. Investing in the O-Line, with quality Canadian content, is never a bad idea. They put out my picture with silence because my identity by itself causes violence !!!

  13. Disappointing as Girard seemed to have a solid future on the line. He played very well when asked to step in for Filer, at a position that demands a lot of the player. His long-snapping capability was nice insurance too in case Crawford were to go down.

    This probably does ensure the Ticats’ draft plan targets another OL or two, and likely keeps their prospective starting ratio at 3 for national linemen. But Landon Rice is still a valuable commodity as backup and he’s been fine in the opportunities he’s had (limited though they’ve been). A trade for more depth is also a possibility. I think Dyakowski was likely done here regardless.

    I still think the Cats will take a receiver with their first pick — it’s a position of greater need given Fantuz’s situation and the loss of Coates, and this draft doesn’t have as many linemen ranked among the top players as last year so they may be able to get a decent prospect or two with lower picks.

  14. Educated, CTE risk aware, long term thinking …a new generation is responding to new information. Good for him. 🙂 He won’t be “selling pencils in Gore Park” as my Football coach used to chortle.

  15. DundasDude // April 7, 2017 at 4:42 am //

    Who wouldn’t choose an accounting career over football? Football is great and all, but no one can argue with the prestige, money, women and fame of accounting professionals! All the best to a wise young man.

    • Dario Cueto // April 7, 2017 at 5:54 am //

      Hey yo, the DundasDude. Do you think the TiCats should draft that McMaster WR in the 1st round ??? He seems to be lacking in certain criteria if you know what I mean. They put out my picture with silence because my identity by itself causes violence !!!

      • What do you feel Vandervoort may be lacking?

        • Dario Cueto // April 7, 2017 at 7:05 pm //

          Hey yo, lsd. Come on you know … certain physical criteria – ya dig ??? They put out my picture with silence because my identity by itself causes violence !!!

  16. Joe King // April 8, 2017 at 2:51 pm //

    All anyone can say is I hope they end up with a good OLine cuz Zack doesn’t take hits well.

  17. Alex Droho // April 10, 2017 at 8:39 am //

    An intelligent decision. I wish the young fellow well. My gut feel is that Cats draft Dan V. and strive to pick up an O lineman at their second pick.

  18. The Iceman // April 10, 2017 at 10:55 am //

    Cats will be very fortunate if they can select Dan V.
    He is a position of need, local player and just what they need!

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