Elizondo: Elks released Kenny Stafford because he was not a ‘cultural fit’

Edmonton Elks’ head coach Jaime Elizondo told the media on Wednesday that receiver Kenny Stafford was not released due to poor play on the field.

“Kenny’s a good player. We just decided to go in a different direction and we wish Kenny all the best of luck,” said Elizondo.

“Kenny did some good things in practice. There was some other things that just didn’t fit — wasn’t a cultural fit — and so we made a decision and we’re heading in that direction and wish him all the best of luck.”

The veteran receiver didn’t appear happy with Elizondo’s comments, tweeting, “Nothing like having your character attacked.”

Stafford worked out with quarterback Trevor Harris during the CFL’s extended off-season, who advocated for the team to sign the veteran receiver. This was Stafford’s third stint with Edmonton, having previously played there in 2015 and 2017-19.

The 31-year-old had his most productive season in 2015 when he helped the Elks capture a Grey Cup. He caught 47 passes for 732 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns in eighteen regular season games.

The six-foot-three, 204-pound target has played in 70 career games, catching 194 passes for 2,626 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has also had brief stints with Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, and Calgary.

Elizondo also praised running back James Wilder Jr., who came out of retirement to sign with the Elks in February 2021.

“I could not be more impressed with James in a lot of different ways and it starts with the leadership component. He’s been great in that room coaching the young running backs. He’s been great setting the energy and the tempo for practice, his demeanour has been incredible, so I’m really happy with him,” said Elizondo.

“When you turn on the film, he’s kind like the Betts on offence. You always see him chasing the ball and when you have a running back at that spot that does that, that puts that on tape, you’ve got a phenomenal guy.”

Elizondo praised the intensity of Canadian defensive end Mathieu Betts on Tuesday, saying he wants veteran pass rusher Shawn Lemon to match it.

It would appear a year of retirement did nothing to slow down Wilder Jr. as he looks to reestablish himself as one of the CFL’s top running backs.

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