Bryant still motivated to prove he’s the best
Bombers’ standout O-lineman wants to be remembered as dominant force
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
An argument could be made that Stanley Bryant is the greatest offensive lineman in CFL history.
Bryant is a four-time winner of the league’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award (he’s the only player with more than two), a seven-time CFL all-star, and a three-time Grey Cup champion.
Yet, with nothing left to prove, Bryant, who turns 37 in May, isn’t done yet. The North Carolina product re-signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday on a one-year contract extension.
Bryant, the league’s top O-lineman in four of the last five seasons, was set to become a free agent next month.
“I tell myself each and every year at this stage in my career — every year I think about retirement. But sitting back and just reflecting, talking with family and friends I knew that I wanted to continue to play,” Bryant told reporters Friday morning at IG Field.
“My body feels fine. I love playing football still. I love the camaraderie. I love the team. I love my teammates. I didn’t see no reason for me to retire as of yet. I love to play football. I don’t think there’s nothing else right now in my life that I’d rather be doing. I can’t see myself working… I love football.”
The 2023 campaign will mark Bryant’s 13th season in the CFL. An undrafted free agent out of East Carolina University, Bryant spent training camp with the Denver Broncos of the NFL in 2009 but failed to make the team. A few months later, his agent suggested the CFL.
Bryant had never heard of league at the time.
He spent four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders and won a championship in 2014. With no teams south of the border knocking on his door, Bryant brought his talents to Winnipeg in 2015 and he’s been one of the pillars of the franchise ever since.
“The CFL has done a lot for me. I always say there’s nothing wrong with being a big fish in a small pond. I’ve met great people, built great friendships, seen different parts of the world because of the CFL, and just meeting (new) people, too,” said Bryant.
“I mean, I love the CFL. I have no doubt that it’s one of the better leagues, and we just need more attention. I think that a lot of people see that as well.”
Even with all the accolades, a shocking loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the 2022 Grey Cup was a tough pill to swallow.
“It hurt because there were a lot of guys there for the first time. I love seeing young guys or guys who have been in the league get to the Grey Cup and also win it. I had a chance to win three and so that hurt the most, not being able embrace the win and see them enjoy themselves. I mean, it was heartbreaking,” said the 6-5 left tackle.
“I wish it would have been the other way around, but it wasn’t. So, we’ve just to come in next year and try to do the same thing and get there and change the result.”
Bryant believes he still has a few years left in him. And the fact the Bombers are obvious contenders made it easy for him to come back.
Although there’s nothing left for Bryant to prove, he’s found a source of motivation this off-season.
“I want to be remembered as a guy who came out and played and dominated each and every year and every possession. So, I think in the off-season I just pride myself on refocusing and telling myself I’m the best and going out there and trying to do that and continuing the legacy that I have.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...