Even as he prepares to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup, Kenny Lawler regrets spending last year with the Edmonton Elks.
A hypothetical was posed to the Blue Bombers star receiver on Thursday, asking what advice he would give to a fellow CFL player who was considering testing free agency.
“Don’t go to Edmonton,” said Lawler.
The 29-year-old American started his CFL career with Winnipeg in 2018, playing three seasons with the team.
Lawler reportedly signed a $305,000 one-year deal with the Elks in 2022, making him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. He caught 58 passes for 894 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games with Edmonton before undergoing surgery to repair a broken collarbone.
He re-signed with Winnipeg in the off-season and has 50 catches for 901 yards and six touchdowns this year. He said he didn’t know how good he had it with the Blue Bombers when he jumped to the Elks for a season.
“I thought the grass could be greener on the other side,” said Lawler. “This right here, Winnipeg, is a great place to be.
“I kind of knew [Edmonton] might not be as good as that but maybe [if] I water where my feet is at the grass will be greener. I tried to water so much over there and it just didn’t pan out.”
The Elks tied the Ottawa Redblacks with a league-worst 4-14 record this season. Edmonton actually finished the season strong after snapping a 22-game home losing streak on Aug. 27, a record for futility in North American professional sports.
Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Browns, who lost 20 straight in 1953 before becoming the Baltimore Orioles the following season, previously held the record.
Edmonton’s 30-20 victory over Ottawa at the end of August not only ended a home losing skid dating back to Oct. 12, 2019, it also marked the franchise’s first win at Commonwealth Stadium since changing the team name to Elks.
“I’m fortunate to be here,” said Lawler after Blue Bombers practice at Tim Hortons Field, four days out from the Grey Cup. “Winnipeg wanted me back and for some people that doesn’t happen.
“I was just thankful, blessed to be in the situation where I could go back home. It was a no brainer. I’m not going anywhere else. I want to win and I want to play with guys that I love.”