There is no bigger story at the 109th Grey Cup week in Regina than the miraculous recovery of Toronto Argonaut Andrew Harris.
The 35-year-old running back has already defied the odds by simply outlasting just about any other athlete who’s played the position, but what he’s done this year has shocked the world more than ever before.
Harris suffered what appeared to be a season-ending injury during a Week 10 loss to Hamilton in mid-August when he tore a pectoral muscle that required surgery. His expected recovery time was six months and Harris himself admitted his career might be over.
It was two weeks after that surgery that Harris had a visit with Winnipeg doctor Pete Donald, who treated the injured area with what is called a PRP shot — short for Platelet Rich Plasma. The procedure involves taking platelet-rich plasma from someone’s blood and injecting it into the affected area.
Harris says that was the moment he started thinking maybe there would be a chance to rejoin the Argos again this season.
“He [Dr. Pete Donald] had told me that [former CFL linebacker] Barrin Simpson had recovered from the same injury in 12 weeks without the PRP shot”, Harris said.
“He was a linebacker. I figured if a guy that plays linebacker, that’s tackling, if he could do it, I could probably do it as well, too. That’s really what got me kick-started into thinking this was a possibility.”
After that, Harris credits his hard training regimen and healthy eating, as well as the culture around the Argonauts for his quick turnaround.
“When I got back to Toronto, it was just being there every day with my teammates and working and constantly pushing every day,” Harris said. “Trainer Josh constantly had to tell me to chill out because I would be constantly pushing more than I was supposed to be doing.”
It’s been an astonishing comeback for Harris that adds to a long list of accomplishments sprinkled throughout a storied 12-year professional career. He’s won a Grey Cup with the B.C. Lions, two more with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and just might add another on Sunday with the Argos.
It should be noted, however, that there have been some setbacks along the way, including a 2019 suspension for violating the CFL’s anti-doping policy after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.
The league appeared to forgive the sins of Harris only three months later when it gleefully awarded him both the Most Valuable Canadian and Most Valuable Player award in the 107th Grey Cup, a romp over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It was the win that kick-started Winnipeg’s dynastic run, which Harris hopes to derail on Sunday.
Nevertheless, that chapter in Harris’ story is still prompting questions about how a senior citizen in the world of running backs could bounce back from such a serious injury so quickly and so productively. Harris’ scored a touchdown in his return a week ago, contributing to an East Final win over Montreal with 42 yard on nine carries.
For his part, Harris doesn’t appear concerned about his past record or what comes next after the Grey Cup. He sounds more worried about his old non-football pals from Winnipeg bumping into him this week in Regina.
“I said, ‘If I see you wearing blue and gold, it’s friends off,” Harris joked.
No matter what happens on Sunday — good, bad or otherwise — it’s likely Andrew Harris will be a big part of the story from the end of this season and beyond.