Ricky Ray’s first professional football paycheck was for $200.
The year was 2002 and the then 22-year-old Ray was playing for the Fresno Frenzy of the (now defunct) Arena Football Developmental League. He’d enjoyed a solid college career at Sacramento State but had been released by the San Francisco 49ers after playing in just a single pre-season game.
“Back then I was just trying to keep playing wherever I could and however I could just keep playing and keep the dream alive,” Ray said.
Ray was recruited by former CFL quarterback and coach Rick Worman, who was then the head man for the Frenzy. There was an extra $50 available with each win.
“He said come down and play for me, I’m going to do my best to help all you guys to move on and keep playing,” Ray said.
After Ray signed on with the Frenzy, Worman made him write down his goals and one was to play in the CFL. That season Ray threw for 1,296 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.
“After one of our games, he came up to me and said he got me into Edmonton Eskimos training camp. So he held true to his word and gave me my shot up here in the CFL,” Ray said.
Saturday night at BMO Field Ray became the fourth pivot in CFL history to pass for 60,000 yards. That’s a long way from Fresno.
“There are a lot of times I look back and say I was lucky to get an opportunity and lucky that,” Ray said, “I was able to take advantage of it and it worked out for me.”