Riders want Jon Ryan back; big leg punter taking time to make proper decision for his future

Jon Ryan is taking a measured approach with regards to his football future.

The Regina native played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019. It was his first season playing for the Riders, the franchise he fell in love with as a kid.

“Coming into it, I heard people say you should probably go play for a contender. People had us picked last place and I wanted to be a part of the Roughriders,” Ryan told The Rod Pedersen Show.

“We played a lot better than a lot of people thought we would and in my opinion coming down the stretch we were the best team in the league and just came up a little bit short on that Sunday afternoon.”

The Riders finished the regular season first in the West Division with a 13-5 record and it earned the green and white a home date for the Western Final. On the final play of the game, Cody Fajardo’s pass hit the uprights and fell to the turf as the Riders lost in dramatic fashion. Winnipeg went on to win the 107th Grey Cup and end a 29-year drought.

“It reminded me a little bit of those years back in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 when I was with the Seahawks — it was a bunch of guys with chips on their shoulders. With that you have an us versus the world mentality and that’s what we had in that locker room,” Ryan said.

“That causes guys to bond and come closer together and guys playing for each other. Playing to say screw you to the rest of the country. It was phenomenal. That was pretty special for me.”

Ryan punted 107 times for 3,783 yards — 48.8-yard average — with a long of 77 yards while playing all 18 regular season games for Saskatchewan. He was named a West Division all-star for his efforts. The 38-year-old is already preparing for the 2020 season.

“I know that I’m working out every day, I took my normal two days off after the season and got right back in the weight room. I’ll start kicking again next week, stay ready and see what happens here,” Ryan said.

“JO [Jeremy O’Day] and Dickie [Craig Dickenson] have made it clear they want me back next year. I want to take a couple months here and just think about it. Money isn’t really a contributing factor to this decision.”

During the off-season Ryan is living with his wife, Sarah Colonna in Los Angeles. She’s a comedian and actress. Colonna flew in to watch 12 games live in 2019, eight at home and four on the road.

“She’s my biggest fan. She loves watching me play and I love having her in the stands in the front row right behind the kicking net every game. We’re both very supportive of each other,” Ryan said.

“It’s more with my wife’s work, she has to be in LA for the better part of the year and living apart for half the year isn’t always easy or ideal, so there’s a lot of factors. There’s things her and I will have to talk about. Just see in a month or two here if the fire and the passion still burns for football.”

Ryan was born and raised in Regina developing football skills at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate high school and playing for the University of Regina Rams where he earned USports (at the time CIS) All-Canadian status.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Ryan in the third round, 24th overall, of the 2004 CFL draft. Ryan handled the punting duties for two seasons, leading the CFL with a 50.6-yard average in 2005.

NFL teams took notice of Ryan’s strong leg and Green Bay signed him to a contract. Ryan spent two seasons with the Packers. After that, Ryan moved on to Seattle for 10 seasons, including a Super Bowl championship in 2014.

During training camp in 2018, Ryan was released by Seattle. The Buffalo Bills signed Ryan but let him go less than two weeks later and the 37-year-old didn’t play the rest of that season. Ryan punted 914 times in the NFL for 40,895 yards and a 44.7-yard average – with 311 punts inside the 20-yard line.

“I always say never ask a guy, especially a guy that’s played 16 years whether or not he wants to retire the week after a long season because they’re always going to say yes. So I’m going to take a little bit of time here and make sure I make the right decision,” Ryan said.

“That’s what I always used to tell Brett Favre, he retired four years in a row and he made the mistake of retiring right after the season. I said everyone wants to retire after the season, wait for three or four months when you’re itching to get back on the field and that locker room with the guys.”

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