Ottawa Redblacks’ RB Brendan Gillanders retires following eight-year CFL career

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Canadian running back Brendan Gillanders has announced his retirement after eight seasons in the CFL.

“When I started playing football here in Ottawa at the age of 10, I never dreamt I would one day play in two Grey Cups, and help bring one home to family, friends and our amazing fanbase. My family and I are sincerely thankful to the Redblacks organization, and all of the wonderful people working at OSEG, and the OSEG Foundation,” said Gillanders in a statement.

“As hard as it is to walk away from playing professional football, it is much harder to leave the amazing people in our locker room and facility. Finally, as the newest member of RNation, I could not be any more excited to watch Coach Dyce lead the Redblacks into the 2023 season, as they work towards another Grey Cup.”

The 32-year-old went unselected in the 2013 CFL Draft out of the University of Ottawa. He signed with the Toronto Argonauts ahead of the 2014 season and spent two years with the team, making 20 special teams tackles, one carry for 11 yards, and seven receptions for 104 yards.

The native of Orleans, Ont. signed with the Redblacks as a free agent in February 2016 and won a Grey Cup later that same year. Over six years in Ottawa, he recorded 43 special teams tackles, one forced fumble, 65 carries for 291 yards, and 37 receptions for 240 yards.

“I honestly believe if something had ever happened to me, Brendan Gillanders could have played and coached our special teams unit at the same time,” said head coach Bob Dyce, who served as Gillanders’ special teams coordinator throughout his tenure in Ottawa.

“I’m not sure I’ve had a player prepare with the professionalism and detail that Brendan did in my seven years in Ottawa. Gilly set the standard high for himself and his teammates and we will miss him immensely. We wish him and his family all the best as they embark on this next step.”

Gillanders has finished his career with 63 special teams tackles, one forced fumble, 66 carries for 302 yards, and 39 receptions for 344 yards over 114 regular season games.

The five-foot-eleven, 211-pounder was also a mainstay in the Ottawa community, regularly volunteering his time in and around the city. He was the team’s nominee for the Jake Gaudaur Veteran’s Award in 2022, which is presented annually to the Canadian player who embodies the attributes of Canada’s veterans.