Argos’ RB Andrew Harris has ‘more gas left in the tank’ but won’t rule out retirement after season-ending injury

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Future Hall of Fame running back Andrew Harris will not take the field for the Toronto Argonauts again this season, but his status for the future remains in question.

The Canadian star exited the Argos’ Week 10 loss to Hamilton with what was later diagnosed as a torn pectoral muscle. Despite initial hopes that the injury would be a minor setback, doctors later ruled that it required season-ending surgery to repair the damage.

At 35 years old, such a serious injury immediately raised concerns about Harris’ career longevity. Addressing the Toronto media this week, he did not rule out the possibility of retirement following his lost campaign.

“Anytime that something gets cut short like that, it’s unfortunate, but I know I still have some more gas left in the tank,” Harris said, hedging slightly. “It’ll just be a decision on my behalf of whether I want to play or not and whether the team wants to continue on with 33 or not, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Signed this offseason after leaving the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Harris started eight games for the Argos and recorded 114 carries for 490 yards along with 23 receptions for 180 yards. He is currently the CFL’s third-leading rusher, though his 4.3-yard per carry average is the lowest of his 13-year CFL career.

Harris carried three times for 19 yards against the Ticats and looked to be gaining momentum early, before suffering the injury on a freak play.

“Declan [Cross] was on the ground and his knee was flexed; foot was in the ground, knee was up and I got tackled right into his knee,” he explained. “Again, it’s a fluke spot. There’s no real padding there. I had the ball in that in my right arm too and as I was flexing, just got a direct shot there and literally felt like I got stabbed with a knife right through my armpit.”

Attempts to return to play following the injury were unsuccessful and Harris was forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the contest. That is where he plans to remain for the rest of the 2022 season, assisting the Argos in any way he can.

“I said right from the jump, if I’m out for the season, I want to stick around here and help still be a leader on the sidelines,” Harris noted. “We have a relatively young group at the running back position and a young coach too, so just to support [RBs coach Edwin Harrison] and the offence and the full team, it’s full circle.”

The veteran star is booked for surgery early next week and has some understanding of what the rehab will require of him going forward. Harris suffered the same injury to his opposite pec more than a decade ago, in 2011. Back then, he was able to cut the estimated six-month recovery time down to just three and a half months.

“I was 24 years old when that happened too, so a little different,” Harris chuckled. “But I keep my body pretty healthy and take care of her pretty well, so I know with good eating and good health and the right doctors helping me out, I should be good.”

“It’s not a knee, it’s not something that’s really going to set me back as far as running. If I can get strong enough, I should be good to go.”

While the injury itself is unlikely to be career-ending, the timing of it could be. After a season in which he became the first Canadian player ever to reach the 10,000-yard career rushing mark and surpassed Milt Stegall for fourth all-time in yards from scrimmage, Harris has very little left to prove as a player. Like any veteran, he’ll need to make his own determination on if he has the desire to continue.

Harris is not tipping his hand on that front but stresses that the injury is not how he wanted his first season in the centre of the universe to end.

“It’s definitely a shame. I was devastated and the type of injury too, it’s very uncommon,” he acknowledged. “It’s just kind of a fluke injury but hopefully, I can go through surgery and all goes well and if I’m deciding to play again next year, I’ll be healthy to do that.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.