Former Rider Jon Ryan accuses Randy Ambrosie of ‘trying to destroy Canadian content’ after being replaced by Global punter

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Nothing will ever besmirch the legacy of Jon Ryan in Saskatchewan.

He’s a hometown hero, a Super Bowl champion and a noted philanthropist, but the Regina-born punter won’t succeed in his mission to add a Grey Cup victory as a Roughrider to that resume.

Instead, the team has decided to move on from their 40-year-old punter ahead of CFL free agency, a move that Ryan finds upsetting but not shocking.

“That’s pro football for you, I think that I kind of knew this was coming ever since I got hurt back in October. After playing for 18 years, it’s hard to surprise you and I definitely wasn’t surprised by this whatsoever,” Ryan told guest host Michael Ball during an interview on The Sportcage.

“The Riders decided to go another direction. They wanted go younger — which isn’t too hard when I’m 40 years old — and they wanted to go cheaper.”

After a stellar 13-year NFL career, money was not Ryan’s priority when he signed with his hometown team ahead of the 2019 season. While he feels an obligation not to “screw over” other punters by taking the minimum to stay with the Riders, Ryan would happily take less.

He even believes he spent more on training and supplements last season than he received in take home pay, but it wouldn’t matter. For one specific reason, the Riders wouldn’t have been interested in retaining him at any dollar amount.

“The way the rules work right now with Randy Ambrosie trying to destroy Canadian content in the CFL, they bring in these Global roster spots. If you employ the Global players, that gives you an extra Canadian spot. As well, league minimum right now is $65,000 in the CFL and you actually pay the Global players less than league minimum,” Ryan explained.

“I can go back to the Riders and say; ‘Pay me league minimum.’ And they still wouldn’t pay it because they can pay a foreign player even less, which is very screwed up in my opinion.”

When Ryan went down with a small ankle fracture in October, the Riders replaced him with second-round Global draft pick Kaare Vedvik. The Norwegian punter, who graduated from Marshall University before spending time with eight NFL teams, performed well down the stretch and has a year remaining under contract at below league minimum.

While Vedvik is undeniably talented, Ryan insists the issue is not with the Global players themselves, but with the principle of the whole initiative.

“I’m not crapping on these Global players. We had three of them last year and I absolutely love all three of those guys, I’m still in contact with them. Absolutely great dudes, loved playing with them last year, so it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with Randy Ambrosie trying to grow the game through Global content instead of being right here in our backyard with Canadians,” he stressed.

“I don’t quite get it. It’s a little bit frustrating and I’m not saying this on my behalf to be sour grapes, I’m saying this As a massive CFL fan who actually loves the game and a guy who grew up looking up to guys like Lui Passaglia, Bob Cameron, Troy Westwood and in Regina, Mike Lazecki. That’s kind of gone now.”

While the league’s mandated Global players currently count as Americans for the purposes of the starting ratio, Ryan believes the program is actually a direct attack on the vital role of Canadian kickers.

“By the last week of last season, there was one Canadian punter that played. You would have never seen that 20 years ago,” he continued. “Those guys became mainstays in all those cities and became local heroes in all those places. That’s going to be gone now. There’s going to be no more Canadian punters.”

While there were actually two teams with Canadian punters to end the year, including the Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers, that was down from five in 2019.

Ryan is still recovering from injury and has not ruled out a return to another city in 2022, but there still may not be an opportunity available for one of the greatest kickers this country has ever produced.