‘It’s a great game, just a real tough business’: Jon Ryan’s departure took Riders’ LS Jorgen Hus by surprise

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Few players on a football field have a tighter bond than that between a long-snapper and a punter, but Jorgen Hus and Jon Ryan were closer than most.

Though almost a decade apart in age, the pair shared a college alma mater in the University of Regina, a similar NFL journey, and two stellar seasons together with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

It was a partnership that Hus hoped would continue going forward but his team had other plans, letting the 40-year-old Ryan walk as a free agent after he suffered a fractured ankle in October.

“I didn’t really think that would’ve been his last game at the time, just because I know how hard of a worker he is and how good a shape he’s in. He’s got more years left in him, no question about that. That was never something we thought about,” Hus said on The SportsCage Friday.

“It kind of took me by surprise, but it is what it is. It’s how the business goes.”

Hus, who just returned to Saskatoon after two months training and living at Ryan’s Tempe condo, has a history with the punter that pre-dates their time with the Riders. As a U Sports senior with NFL potential, it was the then-Seattle Seahawk who first put him in contact with a specialist coach in Arizona and offered him whatever he needed to pursue his dream.

“I’ve still got a screenshot of a text message that he sent me way back then, when I was in university,” Hus confessed.

“He knew I was having a chance at the NFL and he barely knew me, he didn’t have to say this at all, but he said, ‘Whatever you need, don’t be afraid to reach out. I’ll help you out if you need a place down there or whatever, just don’t give up on this thing.’ That always stuck with me.”

Hus would go on to spend three seasons bouncing around the NFL with the St. Louis Ram, Ryan’s Seahawks, and the Kansas City Chiefs, while his punting mentor would make consecutive Super Bowl appearances, winning one.

They were reunited in 2019 to play together on their childhood team, but Ryan’s time with the Riders was cut painfully short by a pandemic and the CFL’s Global initiative. Despite the fact that the local legend was playing on a discount contract, the team decided to go younger and cheaper with Norwegian Kaare Vedvik. The Marshall product has significant NFL experience and performed well down the stretch, but is most importantly being payed $11,000 less than the standard league minimum due to his nationality.

“It’s a great game, just a real tough business sometimes. I wish I could keep playing with him, but it’s tough,” Hus admitted.

“Vedvik’s a great guy, a great kicker. I’ve been lucky to play with a lot of really good punters and good guys over the years, but it’s definitely tough to lose a guy like Jon. He’s just a great professional in every single sense.”

While Ryan had intended to play several more seasons and power the Riders to a home Grey Cup, the door in Saskatchewan is now closed and his career may be over. One of the greatest Canadian specialists ever to play professionally, he has plenty of money in the bank and other pursuits to now focus on. 

“He’s just such a amazing guy that hasn’t changed one bit over the years, so generous and just willing to help out and such a hard worker,” Hus said of his friend. “He deserves every bit of good that comes his way.”

Unfortunately, none of it has come from the Riders lately.