Realty One



Thursday, February 4, 2016


Shea Emry's body feels as good now as it did eight years ago when he was rookie with the Montreal Alouettes. It's his mind he worries about.

The 29-year-old veteran linebacker (pictured, #11) is so concerned about the toll "upwards of 10 concussions'' have taken that he has decided to retire in the prime of his career.

The Richmond, B.C., native announced his decision Wednesday after he missed most of last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders due to a head injury. With his second child due in May, Emry isn't taking any more chances.

"That (concussion concerns) is a big reason why I am stepping away,'' Emry told The Canadian Press. "My body feels like I'm a 20-year-old newly drafted Montreal Alouette.

"I don't feel like the football world took a toll on my skeletal body but on my mental state, for sure, and that's what I was most concerned about. Having a young family and really wanting to be able to be around and cognizant and engaged for the length of their lives, I made a decision for myself but mostly for my family.''

Emry is the latest player to leave football amid health concerns. Earlier this month Western Mustangs quarterback Will Finch retired after missing time in 2014 and '15 with head injuries.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired prior to the 2015 campaign after one NFL season because of concerns about repetitive head trauma.

The six-foot, 228-pound Emry was Montreal's first-round pick in the 2008 CFL draft and quickly became its starting middle linebacker. He spent six seasons with the Als - winning two Grey Cups and collecting 261 tackles, 13 sacks and four interceptions - before signing as a free agent with the Toronto Argonauts in 2014.

Emry played in all 18 regular-season games with Toronto, registering 72 tackles before being dealt to Saskatchewan for defensive end Ricky Foley. But he suffered his season-ending concussion in the Riders' season opener.

"For me to continue going out there and putting myself through that, I just didn't think was a good idea,'' Emry said.

Emry achieved football success despite a long, secret battle with depression. In a 2014 interview with The Canadian Press, Emry admitted he had contemplated suicide.

After enjoying Grey Cup success with Montreal in 2009 and '10, Emry missed half of the next season with a concussion and again struggled with depression.

"In 2011 ... I didn't think I was going to be able to go back and play football,'' he said. "That was a very scary time for me and I knew I had to dive into some personal development and figure out who I was and I realized I was a little bit lost and needed to do some work.''

In 2012, Emry began sharing his story publicly to emphasize the importance of men talking about depression. He also launched the Wellmen Project, a program aimed at empowering males to take initiative in their own mental wellness.

He's also served as a spokseman for Movember Canada's Men's Mental Health campaign, Bell's Let's Talk Day, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Men's Health Foundation. Emry sits on the advisory board for the Watson Centre for Brain Health - a new facility at the University of British Columbia.

In retirement, Emry will continue public speaking as well as working with the Wellmen Project.

"Right now (with Wellmen) we're focusing on Canada but I would love to have international operations within five years,'' he said. "There's no reason why it can't take place.

"It was paramount for me having something to step into off the football field but being more explicit, providing me with a separate identity from the one I cultivated on the football field.''

Emry can't wait to become a father for the second time after he and partner Devon Brooks delivered their son, Rozen Oak Emry, 16 months ago.

"The thing that matters to me is what's going to impact my son's and daughter's world and what kind of man can I be and what kind of men can I bring along with me,'' he said.

He says he will stay involved in football as a coach.

"Football has given me so much and I've learned so much about it that for me not to engage with the sport would be a missed opportunity for me personally because I feel like I can provide value,'' he said. "I want to give back to the game.''

(Canadian Press)


Anonymous said...

What a waste of a trade for Foley, we should technically get Foley back for damaged goods.

Anonymous said...

best of luck shea....jus sucks we end up getting nuttin for foley!...gave him away!!

Randolph said...

Good luck in your future endeavors, Shea. I had hoped that you could play longer for the Riders, but your health and life after the game comes first.

Anonymous said...

2 things you don’t screw with; the brain and cervical spine.

Be well Mr. Emery. Hopefully the effects of these injuries are behind you.

T. Brown

Anonymous said...

Great Canadian MLB in his day. Had to be dirty now and then.
However Corey and Brendan screwed the Riders trading away Foley for Emery. I sure hope the Riders get something in return. As the player they recieved turned out to be a dud!

Anonymous said...

After all is said and done Toronto ended up with Foley and the Riders with nothing. Can't blame him for retiring considering.

Anonymous said...

Hindsight is always 20/20. Was a great trade for both teams at the time. Unfortunately it didn't really ideally work out for either team. You win some you lose some.

All the best Shea!

Anonymous said...

Who cares about Foley.

I once dumped a girlfriend and a couple years later she lost 40 pounds and got hot.

Turn the page.

Anonymous said...

Good idea to retire, can't take your health for granted. Can't blame him one bit, a great player in his day. We never should have traded for him though. His health problems were well documented and we gave up one of our to defenders to inherit that risk. Yet another example of the amateur hour that Hopson and Taman ran over there. The stories just keep getting better.

Gundersons Yorkton

Anonymous said...

yep, the one time Barker knew what he was doing and it is us he screws!!!

Anonymous said...

Right. the Riders learned from their mistakes. Ryan Smith had a concussion last year so they aren't offering him a contract to be sure. In fact, i heard they aren't signing any player that has ever had an injury of any kind. Ever!

Anonymous said...

Rider Nation loves Ricky Foley. Not because of his average abilities but because he is a good sound bite.

"We demand winning, but only do it with the guys we like"

Anonymous said...

PS/ On the bright side it does free up cap space... Just saying.

T. Brown

Anonymous said...

Thanks Hopson/Taman/Chamblin.

Anonymous said...

Yet another one of Taman's bone head acquisitions has failed us!!! What can you say now,old boys club???!!!

Anonymous said...

Typical Rider fans .... still living in the past.

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show how much about building a football team is about luck - good and bad. Had Emry not been hurt and had Durant not had a freak Achilles injury, the script as it subsequently unfolded would have been much different. Mike Reilly's recovery from his injury resulted in a Grey Cup for the EE.

Anonymous said...

Hopson/Taman/Chamblin brought us the greatest game in Rider history. You guys need to relax a little. Your hatred is ruining your life.

Anonymous said...

That "greatest game in Rider history" is really tainted and it was at the time too, unless you're gullible.

Give me '66. '89 or '07 any time.

Anonymous said...

Stop living in the past your NDP'ers ... Let's NEVER go back Saskatchewan.

Anonymous said...

Ya he won a Grey Cup in 2012 and won another in 2013...what a loser!!

Anonymous said...

January 4, 2016.
Caucus fraud scandel cica 1982-91, not again.

Anonymous said...

Put Foley in the Plaza of Honor already!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Give me '66. '89 or '07 any time."

You do realize "13" was won at home right?

Anonymous said...

So that's justification for everything Hopson/Taman/Chamblin did. Typical old boys club logic. Same logic they used when we sucked throughout the 90's: hey, we're the 89 Cup champs.

Anonymous said...

How did any competent Doctor give Emry the OK to play after 10 concussions? How did Taman have no knowledge of these concussions before he donated Ricky Foley to Toronto for him? Wow!

Chris said...

"Put Foley in the Plaza of Honor already!!!!"

He deserves it and will get in...but this might be the easiest honor to achieve in pro sports. I think if you have had one or two average to above average years playing with the Riders you are automatically a candidate. Embracing mediocrity...'tis the Rider way.