Toronto Argonauts’ Andrew Harris contemplating ‘riding off into the sunset’ following Grey Cup

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Toronto Argonauts’ running back Andrew Harris is considering writing his final chapter on the game’s biggest stage.

The 35-year-old will face off against his hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday in the 109th Grey Cup, the very same team that let him walk in the offseason. A victory in the game would mark a fitting end to an illustrious career, a fact that Harris admitted he has considered.

“I’d be lying to you if I said I hadn’t been thinking about that,” Harris said when addressing the media Wednesday. “We’ll see how the game goes. I’m not going to be making any rash decisions after the game but going to reassess what’s next for me.”

Harris was the face of the Bombers’ franchise for five seasons from 2016 to 2021, helping power the team to their first championship in 29 years. Winnipeg followed it up with a second consecutive title in 2021 but the team decided to move on from their veteran ball carrier in the offseason, only making a last-minute contract offer he deemed “disrespectful.”

The Canadian star quickly signed in Toronto with the intention of proving his former team wrong, a mission he accomplished effectively with a 111-yard performance against the Bombers in Week 5. However, his twelfth CFL season was ultimately derailed by a torn pectoral muscle suffered in Week 10, an injury first believed to be season-ending.

“The injury was tough. It was devastating for me. I felt like I came into this season in good shape, good form and as a team, we were getting stronger every week and doing something and I wanted to be a part of that from a playing standpoint,” Harris said. “I took that opportunity to embed myself as kind of a player-coach and help out and go with the coaches and get a little bit of free work experience from the coaching side of things.”

The running back made an improbable return from injury just in time for the East Final, leading the team with nine carries for 42 yards and a touchdown while adding a 30-yard reception in a victory over the Montreal Alouettes. He now has a chance to finish the year on top, winning his third straight Grey Cup ring while denying his former franchise the same feat.

What comes after is far more uncertain and Harris didn’t shy away from addressing the realities of his situation after his first practice in Regina.

“It’s not getting any easier. I’ll be 36 years old next year,” he said. “There’s not really any 36-year-old running backs but I still feel like I can get myself ready to go through that process of training camp, the season and my body can handle that again.”

“I look at my last few injuries and they’ve kind of been pretty fluky, weird injuries. I look at getting 25 touches and how I feel, can I respond that way and I still can and I still enjoy playing the game. I still have something to offer in a different role. If there’s an opportunity to be somewhere that works then I might still consider that. But I’ve also done a lot and capping this off, there’s really not much more else I can do.”

That means that retirement could very much be on the table for the future Hall of Famer depending on the outcome of the game, though he’s not pinning himself to any timeline for a decision.

“There’s also a little bit of riding off into the sunset goes along with that too, quite possibly,” Harris said. “We’ll see how it goes, I’m not making any decisions and these are all just thoughts I’m kind of spitballing.”

In his first season with Toronto, Harris started eight games and recorded 114 carries for 490 yards along with 23 receptions for 180 yards. He was the CFL’s third-leading rusher at the time of his injury, though his 4.3-yard per carry average was the lowest of his career.

Despite the small sample size, Harris still managed to hit several career milestones in 2022. 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 also discovered a new passion while helping out his fellow running backs during his rehab and believes that he has made strides in his complete understanding of the game. Asked if a second career in coaching would be an option should his playing days come to a close, Harris was enthusiastic.

“Absolutely. I never would’ve thought it but I really enjoy the whole process, game planning and just working with men for a common goal,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always felt like a pretty solid leader in any sport I’ve been in, football especially. But yeah, I think that’s definitely been more at the back of my mind than ever.”

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.