John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE
Yesterday up in Toronto, Ricky Ray quarterbacked a third team to a Grey Cup Canadian Football League Championship. He completed just a shade under 69% of his passes this year.
You might remember Ray's brief stint with the Jets in 2004. He came down from Canada hoping to follow in the footsteps of Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, and Jeff Garcia as CFL quarterbacks who found success in the NFL. He never really got a chance. Worried about their inexperience behind Chad Pennington, the Jets signed Quincy Carter as a backup. When Pennington hurt his rotator cuff during the season, it was Carter who got playing time.
I watched Ray throw for 399 yards in person last weekend at the East Division Final in Montreal while I was vacationing there. It took me back to that 2004 season and wonder what might have been.
Canadian football is a different game. The field is much bigger. Ray did not seem to have a huge arm from what I saw. Because the field is bigger in Canada, you can get away with a weaker arm. You don't have to zip as many balls into heavy traffic. I wasn't convinced that Ray would have been a success in America because of that. At the same time, when I watched him handle the pass rush, read defenses, and put throws on target, I wasn't convinced he wouldn't have been a success.
We will never know what might have been. The Jets might have had good reason to never give him a chance. He might have flopped. I can't help, though, but think of this team's never-ending search for a quarterback since that year. Could he have provided stability?
I can't help but wish we had seen more.