‘I’m done playing football’: quarterback Matt Nichols publicly acknowledges retirement

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Long-time CFL quarterback Matt Nichols was at Commonwealth Stadium on Thursday night to take in the Battle of Alberta but don’t expect him to come down from the stands and be the solution to the Edmonton Elks’ quarterback crisis.

Nichols joined the Elks’ 630 CHED broadcast team during the game’s extensive weather delay and publicly acknowledged for the first time that he is officially retired.

“I’m retired, I’m done playing football. I actually called to retire and tried to make it official and then kind of nothing took place after that,” Nichols said. “Enough time passed where I was like, alright, I’m just not gonna make an announcement. I mean, I think everyone can tell that I’m done playing football and I think doing some big announcement would be more for me than it would be for anyone else. Everyone else can kind of see that that’s the case.”

“The people I love and care about know that I’m done playing and did everything I wanted to accomplish in this game and overcame every injury. I can look my kids in the face when they come against adversity and kind of preach to them what I practiced.”

A record-setting college quarterback at Eastern Washington, Nichols first signed with Edmonton in 2010 after a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys. He spent parts of six seasons with the organization, primarily in a backup role, before being traded to Winnipeg mid-way through Edmonton’s 2015 Grey Cup-winning season.

Nichols blossomed into a respected starter with the Blue Bombers, helping to spark the team’s resurgence under head coach Mike O’Shea. In 2019, Nichols was leading the CFL with 15 touchdown passes when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 10. The team would go on to win its first Grey Cup in 29 years after trading for injury replacement Zach Collaros and Nichols was not retained following the championship.

He originally signed with the Toronto Argonauts ahead of the cancelled 2020 season, but later landed with the Ottawa Redblacks following impasses in his contract renegotiation. Nichols lasted just six games with the Redblacks, completing 63-of-96 pass attempts for 544 yards and three interceptions before losing the season to a shoulder injury.

Nichols finished his career having played 120 games, completing 1,645-of-2,469 passes for 18,907 yards, 108 touchdowns and 63 interceptions. He added 147 carries for 639 yards and 13 scores on the ground.

Best remembered for battling back from multiple serious injuries, including a broken leg and multiple ACL issues, Nichols is enjoying health in retirement.

“I’m feeling great. I was lucky to play this game as long as I did. I played until I was 35 and spent 12 years in this league and I feel like overcame some really traumatic injuries and I’m in one piece. My golf game is fully intact, which was always my intent,” he said with a laugh.

“I’m excited about spending every day with my family and living in California with the great sunshine, we don’t have to deal with these lightning delays and pouring rain. It has been awesome.”

Canada will always hold a special place in the former quarterback’s heart, however, a fact reflected in the family’s first choice of vacation since retirement. Nichols took in the Battle of Alberta on his way to Banff National Park, finally fulfilling a visit that he had scheduled and been forced to cancel the week he was traded from Edmonton to Winnipeg.