Riders’ Charleston Hughes believes he is still ‘one of the best defensive ends’ in the CFL

Photo: David Mahussier/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

With the 2022 regular season coming to an end on Saturday, CFL fans could be saying goodbye to a number of legendary players.

One player some believe could be playing his last game in a CFL uniform is 14-year veteran Charleston Hughes, who will suit up for the first time since Week 17 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders take on his former team, the Calgary Stampeders, on Saturday night at McMahon

That is news to the future Hall of Famer, who isn’t ready for his swan song quite yet.

“Definitely not,” Hughes answered when asked by the local media if Saturday could be the final game of his illustrious career. “It’s the final game of the season but for next year, I’ve still got a lot of stuff I can do on the field. I felt like I played great when I was on the field; I’ve got the stat line to prove it.”

“If you look at the amount of plays that I played this year compared to the amount of plays I made on the field, I still got it.”

The 38-year-old not only believes he has a lot left in the tank but also that, if given a chance, he could prove to be just as dominant as he was during his prime years with the Stampeders.

“There ain’t a doubt in my mind that I’m one of the best defensive ends in this league. Maybe if I was fortunate enough to play as much as other guys, I would be leading the league in sacks,” Hughes said with a grin on his face.

The four-time CFL sack leader has appeared in 11 games so far this season and his four sacks are the second-fewest of his Hall-of-Fame career, the fewest coming just a year ago during his ill-fated run with the Toronto Argonauts.

Hughes will make his return to the lineup against his former team in the place he spent the first 10 years of his career. During his time in Calgary, Hughes helped the Stampeders win two Grey Cups and became one of the league’s most feared pass rushers.

Despite being traded by the Stamps after the 2017 season, Hughes still holds the city close to his heart.

“It’s always nice to go there,” Hughes said “I’ve got friends there still that are rooting for me, that are hoping I can step on this field for this game so they can cheer me on.”

During Hughes’ time in red and white, he had a number of notable running mates opposite him. One of them, Shawn Lemon, was nominated as the Stampeders’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player earlier this week.

“It’s good to see my kids blossom and become the great players that they are today,” Hughes said about his teammate during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

“I take credit for that one. I’m proud of Lemon. I really, really hope he wins defensive player of the year. He deserves it.”

Hughes’ return to Calgary also coincides with the likely final home game in the Stampeders’ career of Bo Levi Mitchell, who was Hughes’ teammate for six years between 2012 and 2017.

“He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks that came through Calgary and he’s proven himself to be an elite quarterback,” Hughes said.

“If stuff don’t work out there, I’m pretty sure he has a home somewhere.”

Hughes will likely also be looking for a home somewhere after this season. Whether there is one to be found for the soon-to-be 39-year-old is still to be determined.