CORY BOYD KNOWS about dealing with adversity. So the news that came on the Sunday morning of Aug. 12 hardly served as a devastating blow to his Canadian Football League career.
The former South Carolina running back awoke that morning as the CFL’s leading rusher, only to learn that he no longer was employed by the Toronto Argonauts. He was released from his contract at the blessing of Toronto coach Scott Milanovich.
“Coach (Milanovich) had a nice discussion with me, saying they were moving in a different direction,” Boyd said Thursday by telephone from Canada. “I don’t have any problem with the way they handled it. It’s a business. You’ve got to be open-minded about everything and pray that the next opportunity will become available.”
Boyd’s prayers were answered quickly. His next opportunity came along in less than 12 hours. He hooked on with the Edmonton Eskimos, where he believes his star will shine as bright as it did in Toronto over the past three seasons.
But the question still hangs over the CFL: How does the league’s leading rusher get released from his contract?
One blog out of Canada cited a tweet from another Toronto player, who wrote that Boyd was not a good teammate. Milanovich was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying his team needed a better blocker in the backfield.
“You can’t look at Cory’s yardage (exclusively),” Milanovich said in the Toronto Star. “(Pass blocking) was something we could get better at. It was a team move. We think we got better at tailback, there’s nothing more to it.”
Apparently there was more to it, at least according to Damien Cox, the Toronto Star columnist. Cox reported that Boyd’s release was one of economics. The Argonauts could no longer afford Boyd’s $115,000 contract while attempting to remain under the team’s league-mandated $4.35 million salary cap for a 46-man roster.
According to Cox, Toronto traded for 32-year-old quarterback Ricky Ray in the offseason and signed him to a contract that escalated with his passing yardage during the season. His final salary could reach $425,000, Cox wrote.
Boyd’s salary, while slight by NFL standards, was one of the heftier ones on the Toronto roster. So, it made sense for Toronto to drop Boyd. Edmonton, which had salary cap room, immediately jumped at the chance to sign Boyd.
“It would have been a lot harder for me if I didn’t have the status I have in the league,” Boyd said. “I’m just glad I got picked up as soon as I did, and I didn’t have to go through the strenuous process of finding another team I could fit into.”
Boyd remains one of two USC players — Stanley Pritchett from 1992 to 1995 was the other — to rack up more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a career. Boyd dealt with injuries and suspensions during his USC days from 2003 to 2007, but was remembered most for his hard-charging running style and effervescent personality.
He was drafted in the seventh round by Tampa Bay and eventually landed on the roster of the Denver Broncos, but never played in an NFL game. He found a roster spot in the CFL with Toronto for the 2010 season and earned all-star status as a rookie with 1,359 yards rushing, 363 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
“I’m pretty decent with the CFL,” Boyd said. “It’s a league that caters to the game I have. It fits me.”
That was apparent again in 2011 when Boyd accumulated 1,141 yards rushing, 118 receiving and scored six touchdowns. He appeared to be on his way to another sterling season in 2012 with 447 yards rushing and two touchdowns through Toronto’s opening six games of the 19-game regular season.
Then he was released. And signed.
Now he must adjust to a new offense, a new coaching staff and a new climate. Toronto, located just north of Buffalo, N.Y., played its home games in a domed stadium. Edmonton, a colder climate far north of Montana, plays its home games outdoors.
Boyd said Toronto is now his home and he will continue to live there in the offseason and be involved in community service. He also said he is particularly excited about Edmonton’s next game. The Eskimos play on Monday at Toronto.
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