Veteran lineman Lazeo announces retirement


CALGARY -- The Calgary Stampeders offence has lost a second player to retirement in as many weeks.

Offensive lineman Rob Lazeo followed receiver Ryan Thelwell in announcing that the 2010 CFL season was his last.

The 37-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., played 14 seasons in the league, finally winning a Grey Cup in 2008 with the Stampeders. Lazeo was also named a West Division all-star that season.

"I feel like I could probably play another year, but who doesn't?" Lazeo said Wednesday. "You're heart tells you one thing, but your body tells you another."

Lazeo will remain in Calgary with his wife and two children and is joining former Stampeders offensive linemen Jamie Crysdale and Jeff Pilon in the company Gridiron Drilling and Blasting.

Lazeo was part of a Stampeders offensive line that helped Joffrey Reynolds win consecutive league rushing titles in 2008 and 2009.

"There was a while there where people didn't like playing our O-line. I don't know if it's still like that, but I hope it is," Lazeo said. "I'll miss going out on game-day and competing. There's no feeling like running out of the tunnel and smacking somebody in the mouth.

"To any young guys coming into the league, never give up on your dreams and go to the whistle."

The Stampeders acquired Lazeo from Saskatchewan in 2007 in a trade for running back Wes Cates. He played his college ball for Western Illinois and was drafted by the Roughriders 12th overall in 1995.

Lazeo played a combined seven seasons for Saskatchewan, broken up by a two-year stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 2000 to 2002.

"One of the worst things I thought that happened in my life was when I was traded from Saskatchewan. I'd spent eight years there," Lazeo said. "It's funny what you think is the worst time in your life. It turns out to be the best.

"My four years here in Calgary have been the best of my football career and definitely the most memorable. It was 12 years before I won a championship."

His parting gift from Calgary was this year's Presidents' Ring, given by the players to the teammate who combines excellence on the field with leadership, inspiration and motivational skills.

"Tenacious," quarterback Henry Burris said of Lazeo. "The guy, every snap, every play whether it's practice or working out in the gym, he goes in with that type of attitude that he's really going to get it done. 'To the whistle', that's so much Laz."

Even though Lazeo played several seasons with Saskatchewan, he thanked Stampeders fans "for not wearing watermelons on their heads. You guys are definitely the class of the league. You don't get too crazy, but you're crazy enough when we need you."

Burris, 35, was feeling wistful watching both Thelwell and Lazeo swap their football gear for business suits.

"Any time you're one of those guys in the 35-plus club, you kind of share stories that other guys on the team can't understand," he said. "It definitely hits a spot because those are two of my buddies. I was hoping we could have got these guys another Grey Cup before they shut it down." of those unsung gifted players that could seemingly play through anything...the stamps O-line will miss his presence, as will their locker room.....

It's tough one, but I think we all suspected he might be at the end of his playing days. Loved his play, and the way he interated with fans. As usual the stamps are luzing Canadians. But it doesn't seem like as many retirements as last year so far. The year is young though.