Ray Elgaard is one of the greatest Roughriders of all-time, but the No. 81 jersey he wore hasn’t been retired. And when veteran receiver Geroy Simon wore the number during his one and only season with the Riders in 2013, it rubbed Elgaard the wrong way.
“Even as great a player as Geroy is that didn’t sit well with me, I didn’t like that one bit. They got plenty of numbers they could’ve given him anything. No disrespect to Geroy, he was a great player,” Elgaard said on 980 CJME The Green Zone.
“And I don’t personally think that I own anything either. Every pay cheque I cashed went through and so I’m satisfied with my experience with the Roughriders. But if they did decide to retire some jerseys and mine was of them, I’d be tickled pink.”
The Riders traded for Simon in January 2013 and he wore the No. 81 for the Riders Grey Cup championship season that year. Simon was inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame in 2017 and remains the league’s all-time receiving yardage leader with 16,352.
Elgaard played all 16 seasons of his CFL career for Saskatchewan, winning a Grey Cup in 1989, earning the Most Outstanding Canadian Award three times. He was named a CFL all-star on four occasions and the accolades led to a Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction.
“There’s probably lots of guys that are worthy to have their jerseys retired and for whatever reason, they’re not a club that does that. Okay, well that’s fine, it’s not a big deal, but if they did do it and I was one of those people, I would be super duper happy about it,” Elgaard said.
“I do get asked about it quite a bit. You gotta go: well, no. And then you have to tell them why you think the Roughriders don’t retire jerseys. And that’s okay too, but it would be a nice thing to be able to say.”
Elgaard remains the franchise leader in receiving yards with 13,189 and sits second in receptions only behind Don Narcisse. Eight Riders have had their numbers retired: Ron Lancaster, George Reed, Dave Ridgway, Mel Becket, Roger Aldag, Mario DeMarco, Ray Syrnyk and Gordon Sturtridge – four of the retired numbers were players that perished in a plane returning from an all-star game in 1956 Becket, DeMarco, Syrnyk and Sturtridge.
“They didn’t listen to me, I brought it up a number of times. If they’re not listening to us, how the heck did Ridgway get his jersey retired? Did he have it written into his contract? I’d actually heard that,” Elgaard said.
“My agent [Elgaard represented himself] was a big dummy. I saved a lot of commission money, though.”