Angus Reid is at peace with the most difficult football decision he’s ever had to make.
The B.C. Lions veteran centre announced his retirement Friday, ending a 13-year CFL career.
“As an athlete you know this day will always come but you never want to think about it and never want to know it’s real so you’re forced with facing that reality,” Reid said. “But I’m good with it because it was my decision and most athletes don’t get that opportunity, their careers end because of various factors out of their control.
“Sure, in the youthful part of my mind I’d love to play football forever but I know I can’t give the game what I’d want to give it in terms of what I have left physically and I wouldn’t be happy with that. I have nothing but happy memories and there’s nothing more I could’ve achieved. I think I over-achieved and I’m proud of what I was able to get done in this sport.”
The six-foot-one, 305-pound Reid appeared in over 200 regular-season games, 11 playoff contests and three Grey Cups with the Lions (winning two). Heady stuff indeed, considering the inauspicious start to his pro career.
The 37-year-old native of Richmond, B.C., was selected fourth overall in the ‘01 CFL draft by the Toronto Argonauts. However, the former Simon Fraser star was released during training camp and spent time on the Montreal Alouettes’ practice roster before being dealt to B.C. later that year.
“I vividly remember that first year after getting home to the Lions saying, ‘Wow, I guess this is probably it. I’m a journeyman after one season. This is not what I planned,“’ Reid said. “But true to my character and who I am I just sort of kept focusing on what I could do, kept working and didn’t let what was happening dictate what I was going to do.
“I think I’m a pretty good example that continuous hard work does pay off. Life is going to be up and down and it’s going to be a bumpy road but you just have to stay on that roller-coaster longer because most of us want to get off when it gets rough. I just stayed on and it worked out well.”
Reid was a West Division all-star on three occasions and he earned league honours in 2011. He was also actively involved in community events.
“Few players have made the kind of impression both on and off the field as a member of the B.C. Lions that Angus has during his career,” Lions general manager Wally Buono said in a statement. “He was an incredibly durable player, a tremendous leader in our dressing room and he will be missed by everyone in our organization.”
Former CFL players Doug Brown and Bryan Chiu took to Twitter to offer their congratulations to Reid.
“Throughout college & the pros, there aren’t many I’ve lined up against that I respected more,” tweeted Brown, a native of New Westminster, B.C., who was a standout defensive tackle with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. “Congrats on ur retirement.”
Added Chiu, a Vancouver native who played centre for the Montreal Alouettes: “Congrats on a great career. Proud of you bro. Who would’ve thought we would both be centers in the CFL back at (at)vcrfootball.”
But Reid definitely saw the signs it was time to retire, most notably missing last season after undergoing major back surgery.
“That was a wakeup call to me saying I’m 37 now, not 27,” Reid said. “There’s going to be life after football whether you like it or not and you want to be as healthy as you can so you can do other things in life and still have a lot of enjoyment and fun.
“I have a wife and we’re trying to start a family and you have to look forward to more things.”
And then there was the realization that many of Reid’s former Lions’ teammates had long since moved on.
“Half the guys I played with are my coaches now and you look around and say, ‘Did I not get the memo,“’ Reid said with a chuckle. “The good thing is I have no regrets looking back.
“I’m not leaving anything on the table. In that regard I don’t want to say it was an easier decision but it gives me comfort that I can leave looking back with really proud, happy memories of my time in this sport.”
Especially with the majority of those memories having come at home.
“There was some luck involved, obviously, that I got to play my career in B.C.,” he said. “I grew up going to Lions games, my brother, Mark, was a long-snapper with the Lions in 1990 so I looked at it as a kid thinking, ‘This would be amazing to do.’
“Well, I actually got to do it in the stadium I grew up going to watch games in. You really couldn’t write a better career in terms of happiness, to be able to do it with your parents and family being able to come to almost every single game. You dream of a career like that and no matter how good it is it often doesn’t come as close to what you would envision as a youth but mine really did and I’m thankful and proud of that.”
As for what lies ahead, all Reid knows for sure is he won’t be suiting up for the Lions in 2014.
“That’s a good question, that’s what I’m trying to figure out right now,” he said. “I did a pretty good job during my career of building bridges and good networks of people and so I do have a lot of opportunities.
“However, I’m trying to be careful to not to rush into the first opportunity, I’m trying to look at them all.”
Reid has thought about a few different options when it comes to his future.
“I’d love to stay involved in the sport in some way but the probability of being a coach is slim right now,” he said. “I think I’d like to stay involved maybe in the sports media, be it TV, radio, newspapers.
“But I have a feeling I’ll also be doing other things in the business community. I’m a Vancouver guy, this is where I’ll be. I’ll be busy, probably busier than I was when I played and went to work every day, put on sweats and ran around for a few hours. Now I’ll probably be all over the place.”