TORONTO – Earlier this summer, Ken-Yon Rambo’s football future didn’t look good.
He was unemployed after being released by the Calgary Stampeders and there were questions about whether he’d be able to overcome Achilles tendinitis and resume his career. Not exactly ideal circum-stances for a receiver also on the wrong side of 30.
Three months later, however, the 33-year-old former Ohio State Buckeye is back playing football as a starter with the Toronto Argonauts.
“I’m feeling real good,” Rambo said. “This is a journey … it’s all about how you deal with it mentally, how strong you are mentally.
“I know what I’m capable of and what my body can do. You just have to stick with it and stay positive.”
After seven productive seasons in Calgary, Rambo’s positive approach was put to the test when he was re-leased in June. Rambo helped the Stampeders win the 2008 Grey Cup and was eighth on the club’s all-time list for receptions (406) and receiving yards (5,995) and 10th in TD catches (39).
He was a CFL all-star in 2008 when he led the league in receiving with 100 catches for 1,473 yards and eight TDs. A knee injury limited Rambo to just three games in 2009 but he returned strong in 2010 with 72 catches for 1,172 yards and eight TDs.
He had 51 receptions for 695 yards and five TDs in 12 games last year while battling the Achilles ailment. It flared up again this summer during training camp, ultimately resulting in his release.
But the 6-foot-1, 207-pounder never considered retirement, remaining steadfast in his belief he could still play. Trouble was, he needed to convince another team to give him a chance.
Rambo arrived in Toronto shortly after leaving Calgary but spent more than two months watching practice while receiving treatment without pay. He eventually began practising with his new team and made his Argos de-but as a backup, registering two catches for 16 yards in a 33-30 Labour Day win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Rambo made his first start with Toronto Saturday, contributing three receptions for 66 yards in the 45-31 rematch victory over Hamilton at Rogers Centre.
Rambo boldly predicted before that game he’d combine with Argos starter Ricky Ray on a long completion. He proved prophetic, registering a 49-yard catch before being caught at the Hamilton one-yard line to set up Jarious Jackson’s short TD run.
“I was trying to get into the end zone as fast as possible,” Rambo said. “I had to drag two guys but we got in there.
“But I will get in there soon. This ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been in the end zone before. I love it and will get there soon.”
Head coach Scott Milanovich said Rambo brings important intangibles to Toronto’s offensive attack.
“He’s a gamer,” Milanovich said. “He’s got a little bit of moxie to him that brings something to our offence.
“He’s won Grey Cups, he’s been an all-star. It has been good to have him out there.”