In­juries force Rot­tier to re­tire

Eski­mos of­fen­sive line­man makes ‘tough de­ci­sion’ to hang up his cleats

Edmonton Journal - - SPORTS - DEREK VAN DIEST dvandi­est@post­media.com Twit­ter: @DerekVanDi­est

After a life­time in foot­ball pads, it was tough for Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos of­fen­sive line­man Simeon Rot­tier to walk away.

In­juries, how­ever, have forced the Uni­ver­sity of Alberta Gold Bears alum­nus to re­tire just days be­fore the start of Eski­mos train­ing camp.

“It was a re­ally tough de­ci­sion, es­pe­cially be­cause it’s that time of year. Foot­ball is start­ing in a week, so I was re­ally torn on that,” Rot­tier said.

“At the end of the day, I just wasn’t ready. But I’m hop­ing, I’ll keep train­ing and I’ll keep work­ing, so there might be still a chance later, but at this point this was the right de­ci­sion to make.”

A prod­uct of West­lock, Alta., Rot­tier, 34, played the past six sea­sons with the Eski­mos at guard and cen­tre. He was se­lected first over­all by the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats in the 2009 CFL Draft. Rot­tier was the first Golden Bear to be se­lected No .1 in the draft and went on to play 124 games in the CFL — 70 with the Eski­mos.

“I had a great time with the Eski­mos,” Rot­tier said. “There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but that’s just foot­ball. When I first came to Ed­mon­ton, I was re­ally ex­cited, but the first cou­ple of years weren’t how I wanted it to be. I had a sig­nif­i­cant in­jury in my first year and then the next year we won four games, so it was tough slug­ging at first.

“But I feel like those were the kind of things that build our char­ac­ter and got us to be the kind of team that I was a part of after that. I think ev­ery­one that kind of went through the tough years, it made win­ning the Grey Cup with the group that was there and the win­ning sea­sons that much more spe­cial be­cause you know what it can be like and how tough it can be.”

Rot­tier played three sea­sons with the Tiger-Cats be­fore sign­ing with the Eski­mos in 2012. In 2014, Rot­tier was named a West Divi­sion and CFL all-star. He was also named the Eski­mos’ most out­stand­ing of­fen­sive line­man that sea­son. In 2015, he won the Grey Cup with the Eski­mos.

“I’m re­ally thank­ful for the train­ing staff, the docs, the equip­ment staff and all my team­mates and coaches along the way,” Rot­tier said. “I can’t thank them enough. I had tons of sup­port of fam­ily and friends, too. And the fans, peo­ple have been reach­ing out and I guess I’m pretty thank­ful and feel pretty blessed.”

Rot­tier had signed a con­tract ex­ten­sion with the Eski­mos in March and was work­ing hard pre­par­ing for the up­com­ing sea­son. Yet his in­juries were not re­spond­ing to

I just wasn’t ready. But I’m hop­ing, I’ll keep train­ing and I’ll keep work­ing, so there might be still a chance later ...

re­hab as well as hoped.

“To be hon­est, I was pretty close, I just feel like the whole process was tak­ing longer than I was hop­ing,” Rot­tier said. “It was kind of a gru­elling off-sea­son in that sense. So by the time camp came around, I just needed a little bit more time. That was the de­ci­sion I made at this point keep­ing my long-term health in mind, too.

“I was re­hab­bing in­juries from last year. After nine years, they just kind of add up. There was at one point an op­tion to un­dergo surgery and I guess my thought process after talk­ing to doc­tors (was) that the best thing in the long run was to re­hab and try to not just do a quick fix, es­pe­cially if I was go­ing to keep play­ing, but to get it to a place where I could play with­out hav­ing to do surgery.”

Rot­tier is leav­ing the door open for a re­turn if the Eski­mos find them­selves in need of a Cana­dian of­fen­sive line­man down the road this sea­son.

“I need to find a way to make a little bit of money on the side, but my main fo­cus is re­ally still train­ing for the next six months and un­til this sea­son is done, I’m not go­ing to com­pletely rule it out,” he said. “It is kind of a weird thing where all of a sud­den all the op­por­tu­ni­ties after foot­ball are com­ing more to light. I’m faced with that and I just have to pump the brakes a little bit un­til I’m re­ally ready to com­mit to some­thing full time.”

Notes: The Eski­mos an­nounced Wed­nes­day they have signed their en­tire draft class from the 2018 CFL Draft, DB God­frey Onyeka, DB Jor­dan Beaulieu, RB Tan­ner Green, OL Cur­tis Krahn, RB Alex Tay­lor, WR Harry Mc­Mas­ter, DL Gabriel Bag­nell and RB Blair Zerr.

IAN KUCERAK/FILES

Of­fen­sive line­man Simeon Rot­tier, the first Alberta Golden Bears player to be se­lected No. 1 in a CFL draft, has re­tired from foot­ball days be­fore the start of Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos train­ing camp after in­juries from his 124-game ca­reer took their toll.

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