Award-winning Canadian OL Chris Van Zeyl announces retirement from CFL

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Canadian offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl has announced his retirement from the Canadian Football League after 15 outstanding seasons.

The 40-year-old appeared in just six games last season due to injury, making no starts. He made the announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday morning.

“All great things come to an end. After 17 incredible years in the Canadian Football League, I have made the decision to close this chapter of my life. I am truly grateful for the unforgettable memories, the amazing teammates, and the unwavering support from my family, friends, and fans. To all those who were a part of my journey as a coach, GM, equipment or training staff member, I am deeply appreciative of the time and effort you dedicated to me on that field. Thank you to the CFL for providing me with the opportunity to live out my dream. Here’s to the next chapter!

The native of Fonthill, Ont. began his career as a defensive tackle at McMaster University, earning first-team All-Canadian honours in 2007. He was selected in the third round of the CFL Draft earlier that offseason by the Montreal Alouettes before returning to school. He was released by the team mid-way through the 2008 season, landing with the Toronto Argonauts.

Van Zeyl completed his conversion to the offensive line in Double Blue, establishing himself as a ratio-breaking starter at tackle. He helped Toronto to a pair of Grey Cup victories in 2012 and 2017, before being released ahead of training camp in 2019 and moving to the other side of the Battle of Ontario. It was with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats that the six-foot-six, 312-pound blocker enjoyed his finest seasons, winning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award in his first year.

Over the course of 15 seasons, Van Zeyl appeared in 192 regular season games, 12 playoff games, and four Grey Cup games. In addition to his 2019 award win, he was also named a CFL all-star three times and took home East Division all-star honours on seven occasions.

“Chris’s career in the CFL has been nothing short of extraordinary. He has achieved incredible feats, both on and off of the field, making him the epitome of professionalism,” Tiger-Cats’ president of football operations Orlondo Steinauer said in a statement.

“It was awesome to coach Chris over the years, but also rewarding to see him develop into an outstanding leader and person. In addition to expressing sincere appreciation to Chris for the contributions he has made to our organization and the city of Hamilton, we extend our best to him and his family in the future.”

Off the field, Van Zeyl was an active part of the Hamilton community and assisted in several programs meant to raise awareness regarding homelessness and bullying. In 2021, he took home the Jake Gaudaur Veteran’s Trophy, given to the player who best demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans.